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4 posts from May 9, 2014

May 09, 2014

Dolphins select LSU's Landry, ND State's Turner

For a while there, it seemed the Dolphins didn't want to pick in the second round.

They traded not once but twice, picking up an extra fourth and extra fifth round pick in trading with San Francisco and San Diego.

And when it came to the No. 63 overall selection, the Dolphins selected Louisiana State's Jarvis Landry. The wide receiver had 77 catches for 1,193 and 10 TDs last season.

He's not the biggest at 5-11 and 205 pounds. He's not the fastest, running a 4.77 in the 40-yard dash at the Indianaplis Combine. He improved that to 4.61 at his Pro Day. He is known for using his body and route-running for getting open.

He makes plays and he is going to make it very difficult for Rishard Matthews to keep his spot on the Dolphins game-day roster in 2014.

In the third round, the Dolphins realized the Oakland Raiders was the only California team they had not traded with so they did exactly that, moving up 14 spots in the third round to No. 67 overall.

And with No. 67 overall the Dolphins picked offensive lineman Billy Turner.

Bitonio goes to the Browns (sorry)

The Dolphins targetted Joel Bitonio as a guard prospect for the second round with their No. 50 overall selection.

Nope. Sorry.

The Cleveland Browns selected Bitonio with the No. 35 overall pick. Good player. Good pick.

Look for Dolphins to think Marcus Martin or a wide receiver now.

A couple of other players -- WR Marqise Lee and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- also were selected in the second round.

Seferian-Jenkins went to Tampa Bay and that was followed by Lee going to the Jaguars. So the Dolphins, interested in both player to some degree, see the players stay in the state. 

Dolphins thinking going into Night Two of NFL draft

Spoke to a source familiar with the Dolphins thinking and this is what I'm hearing as the NFL draft continues into the second and third rounds tonight:

Tonight, think more offensive line and wide receiver as the priority needs.

The Dolphins realize they are not done on the offensive line because they definitely could use a guard and the idea that center Mike Pouncey will be available for all 16 games in 2014 is a bit of stretch considering he missed time last year and there is still a harassment scandal sanction possible.

So the team is eyeing Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio and USC center-guard Marcus Martin, among others.

Bitonio is a no-brainer. He's big (6-4 1/4 and 302 pounds), he's nasty, he finishes, durable, and he has excellent personal and character qualities. Yes, he played mostly out of a two-point stance at tackle at Nevada and will have to acclimate to left guard (for the Dolphins) with his hand on the ground. But if he is there at No. 50 in the second round, the Dolphins will run to the podium with his name.

It's more likely Bitonio will not be there. And that's why Martin is a possibility.

He played mostly center at USC. That's where he might be able to serve as a backup to Pouncey.

But the Dolphins also like him at left guard, where he started for the Trojans as a freshman in 2011 and throughout 2012. (He moved to center as a junior and started all 13 games there).

At 6-3 3/8 and 320 pounds, this kid looks the part. Indeed, he has something of a Richie Incognito-type body minus some of the strength. That's his knock. He's not very strong right now for an NFL lineman. He bench pressed 225 pounds a modest 23 times at the Combine.

Martin is said to be a little short on the nastiness and grit factor, as well. But he is very talented in his ability to get on defenders and stay on them. He is a good system fit for the zone-blocking scheme.

The Dolphins are also going to be eyeing the WR position today.

No, they're not replacing Mike Wallace (they're stuck with him is the way it was portrayed to me), Brian Hartline or Brandon Gibson. But Miami would like to upgrade from Rishard Matthews as the No. 4 WR or at least would like to create so much competition for the youngster that he gets things right more often.

It seems Matthews is being held back because he sometimes "loses focus" and is more challenging to teach than others. So he's got to improve that to thus improve his play to thus stay on the roster.

So who might the Dolphins get?

Marqise Lee is available and the Dolphins think highly of him but it is hard to fathom he'll be available at No. 50 (the 18th pick of the second round). The Dolphins have viable wide receiver targets on their radar that should definitely be available at No. 50 and probably later into the third round.

Mississippi's Donte Moncrief, Clemson's Martavis Bryant are two likely targets.

Moncrief is a whopping 6-2 and 221 pounds and he has "stretch the field ability," according to one scout I texted with this morning.

"He's a top 50 pick," the scout added.

Well, the Dolphins have the No. 50 pick so ...

Bryant is 6-3 and 211 pounds.

Are you seeing a trend here with the length of these guys?

The Dolphins on Thursday made Ryan Tannehill's life easier by promising to protect him better. If they add a wide receiver with a big wingspan today they'll make his life easier by helping him complete passes that may not be perfectly placed or accurate.

Bryant is definitely not a second round pick. He's more a third-round possibility in a draft that is deep on receivers. His most troubling aspect is that he has undependable hands (troubling for a receiver). But he has good linear speed and has return ability, which is important to the Dolphins because if he can serve two purposes that makes him more valuable on the game-day 46-man roster.

Reaction to Dolphins picking Ja'Wuan James

The Dolphins filled their greatest need and although I understand the criticism of picking Ja'Wuan James without trading down and getting an extra pick for him, I cannot bring myself to hate the pick (particularly since I called it quite a while back).

So that's my reaction to the Dolphins' work in the 2014 NFL Draft's first round.

Here's some more reaction:

General Manager Dennis Hickey admitted he had the opportunity to trade down if he had wanted to.

“With any pick, we are always entertaining (offers), and sometimes you are on the clock and you get a lot of calls, sometimes you get a few," he said. "We had a couple calls, but we were just excited about picking Ja’Wuan James and adding him to our roster. He’s a guy that definitely fits in from a talent aspect as well as the person and brings what the Dolphins are all about."

Hickey weighed the idea of trading down versus the possibility he might lose James and decided not to risk it.

"As always, when calls are made you kind of go through and we kind of had a predisposed plan there to what we value," he said. "Our excitement that Ja’Wuan (James) was there, he was a targeted player that we really feel like was going to help us. He fit all of the criteria, so we were excited to take him. Obviously throughout the draft you are always taking into account all kinds of different scenarios and just weighing them according to how you feel about the player and how you feel about trading back. Obviously we felt good about the player. We are excited to add him to the team."

Hickey doesn't think James at No. 19 is a reach at all.

“We were always targeting Ja’Wuan at our pick," he said. "Again, we are excited and I know he was very excited as we talked to him through our visit here. A couple of times he grabbed me and said, ‘What do we have to do to get me here? I want to be here.’ So I said, ‘We kind of have to go through the process here, Ja’Wuan.’ He’s pumped to be a Miami Dolphin, and we are really excited to have him as part of our organization."

James is Miami's new starting right tackle. Or at least he better be.

And while the orthodox thinking among some fans is that the right tackle has to be a grinder and run-blocker and his pass-blocking can be sub-par because he's not protecting the quarterback's blind side, it is often the RT that has to be a better pass blocker.

Remember, in today's NFL, many teams put their best pass rushers over the right tackle. The Dolphins, for example, do this with Cameron Wake. The Bills often do it with Mario Williams. The Pats do it with Chandler Jones.

Well, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin believes James is good in pass pro.

"I think the one thing we all felt after watching the tape -- and I think that it is the No. 1 job that an offensive tackle in the National Football League has to get done on a consistent basis -- is we felt like he has the ability to pass block one-on-one against defensive ends," Philbin said. "That’s probably the first thing that really stuck out to us. We felt that he was a good scheme fit in the offensive, but I would say that was the number one thing that jumped out."

James joins former University of Tennessee teammate Dallas Thomas, a 2013 draft pick, on the Miami offensive line. Thomas, it must be said, is something of a nomad right now. Philbin said the team has not settled on whether he'll working primarily at guard or tackle initially in 2014.

That decision will be made soon after the draft.

This is what Philbin did not say: The reason the decision will come after the draft is because the Dolphins still want to add a guard in this draft. If they can do that today in rounds 2 or 3, the chances are good Thomas will be slotted in at tackle as a swing guy possibility -- left or right.

If, however, the Dolphins fail in their search for a guard today, Thomas will likely settle in at guard and compete for a starting job there.

The Dolphins absolutely love, love, love Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio, a source familiar with Miami's thinking tells me. The team loves Bitonio as a guard and likely as a left guard.

So if the Dolphins can land him in the second round today ... well, that would be very good. And that would likely make Dallas Thomas a tackle.

Blog note: I will post an update about what the Dolphins are thinking for today's two rounds sometime before noon. Make sure you are here for that and follow me on twitter.