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2 posts from April 1, 2014

April 01, 2014

Shelley Smith: Line has potential 'to be really good'

Shelley Smith will be asked to both pass protect and run-block on the Dolphins offensive line -- either at left or right guard, which has not be determined yet -- but make no mistake, Smith loves run blocking over pass blocking.

"For me, a big thing is I try to play hard for a whole sixty minutes," Smith said today. "I try to be consistent with what I do. I'm sure most offensive linemen you'd talk to would say they love run-blocking and I love run-blocking."

Smith is not a certain starter, at least coaches have given him no guarantees. He'll have to earn his spot in a competition. But he's got the added advantage of being a scheme fit, according to the Dolphins.

"We had some knowledge of Shelley through John Benton, our head offensive line coach, who worked with Shelley," said general manager Dennis Hickey. "He had nothing but good things to say about Shelley not only as a player but as a person, which is always important for us. And as we watched the film and say the fit for the scheme we'll be employing under [offensive coordinator] Bill Lazor, we just like the fit."

Hickey noted Smith's "athleticism, his ability to climb to the second level and do a lot of things we're going to ask him to do." Hickey called Smith "an ascending player."

Smith, who visited the Giants and Patriots, said he believed the Dolphins were the best fit for him.

"In the zone blocking scheme, particularly how it was in Houston, they kind of looked for offensive linemen that maybe were more athletic, that can move and open up the holes on the outside zone by stretching out wide," Smith said. "I could fit there a little bit."

The Dolphins have added two offensive lineman so far this offseason after giving up a franchise record and league-leading 58 sacks last year. So far, so good, Smith said.

"There's a lot of potential," he said, "for the line to be really good." 

 

 

 

Dolphins will still be searching for an RB in the draft

Dolphins running back coach Jeff Nixon, on the road meeting with and scouting running backs, conducted a private workout with Towson's Terrance West last Wednesday.

"The Dolphins running backs coach [Nixon] likes me a lot. He told me I was high on his board of college running backs," West wrote in his draft diary for the Baltimore Sun.

"We did board work and met and talked and went over some different plays. It was a good background meeting and we got to know each other.""

And that leads me to this:

Despite the fact the Dolphins just signed Knowshon Moreno, despite the fact they like Lamar Miller, I'm told the personnel department would still like to add one more running back -- likely somewhere between the fourth-fifth rounds -- to add juice and get more talent in the backfield.

That player, from what is considered a deep running back class in this draft, must have one of the following abilities:

He needs to make defenders miss.

Or he needs to be able to break tackles (run through tackles) when the running is hard -- such as in the fourth quarter protecting a lead.

The Dolphins want a clock killer. Sure, they'd take a dynamic, big-play runner. But just as valuable later in the draft is a back who can go in with the team up a field goal with four minutes to play and run the ball against a defense that knows the Dolphins are going to run the ball ... and still gain yardage.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, the Dolphins already have that guy. His name is Daniel Thomas. He's young, he's 235 pounds. He's relatively fast.)

Welcome back, gallery. No, the Dolphins don't already have that guy. Thomas has done little to prove he's that guy the last three seasons. He hasn't been a bull in short-yardage. He hasn't been a good pass protector. He hasn't been a break-away back on early downs.

Thomas has been Jeff Ireland's guy since the former GM traded up in the second round of the 2011 draft to pick him. Ireland is gone now. Thomas is going to have an interesting time making the team in training camp with his primary advocate gone.

Why?

Well, Thomas is a 3.6 yards per carry guy in his three seasons. And the Dolphins still have hopes for Lamar Miller. And they just added Knowshon Moreno. And if things go according to plan, they plan to select yet another back in the draft.

The numbers don't add up for Thomas.