When one NFL source floated Dennis Hickey's name to me as a Dolphins general manager candidate Thursday, I dismissed it.
Hickey doesn't seem like a hot commodity. He's something of a career Tampa Bay Buccaneers worker drone. And, after all, his own organization that is conducting a general manager search as are the Dolphins have not interviewed their own guy.
Then on Friday Hickey's name came up again and it turns out not only is he a candidate but a very, very serious candidate, another source familiar with the process said Friday.
I'm told the Hickey interview was among the longest the Dolphins have conducted during the search that has already included interviews for seven candidates. Brian Xanders had a two-day, 11-hour interview earlier this week and Hickey was not far behind him. And I'm told Hickey "hit one out of the park," with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
I'm told by league sources that even if Hickey isn't hired in Miami, he is actually so well regarded by the Bucs that he may be asked to remain under the new general manager once that candidate is chosen.
As you know, I've previously reported that Ray Farmer, Lake Dawson and Xanders opened eyes for the Dolphins owner. I would now add Hickey among that company of top tier candidates.
The Dolphins have yet to interview Marc Ross of the Giants or Lionel Vital of the Falcons. But there is now some sentiment among those conducting the Dolphins search that the strength of candidates is already beyond initial expectations. So this search is nearing its end.
The Dolphins will soon whittle the field to perhaps two candidates and then pick their man.
So, yes, the Dolphins are so far very pleased with their search. Yes, they believe they have identified nearly a handful of potential hires.
And, yes, Dennis Hickey is improbably among the top of the group.