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Draft prospects for Dolfans to watch; Zambrano interests Marlins



So what happens if the Dolphins aren’t bad enough (or lucky enough) to get Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the consensus No. 1 pick next April and widely considered the draft’s best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning? Then what?

Here’s a look at the other top prospects Dolphins fans should be eyeing, if Miami doesn’t “Luck” out:

### Among others quarterbacks, Mel Kiper rates Oklahoma junior Landry Jones No. 4 among all prospects and Southern California junior Matt Barkley 10th.

    Kiper, on ESPN.com, compares Jones with fellow ex-Sooner Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams: “He’s an elite quarterback talent. In any other year, he would have a good shot to be the top quarterback off the board. Pinpoint accuracy, consistently puts the ball in the right place. Has size [6-4], sees the field well.”

    Kiper said Barkley “has shown a great growth curve in three years and throws a nice ball, particularly on the move. Like his accuracy. A high IQ player, a leader and a guy out of a pro style system.” His arm strength “is good, not great. He’s still having those mistake-prone days, like we saw at Arizona State.”

Sporting News analyst Russ Lande is less than effusive, saying Barkley reminds him of Carolina Panthers backup and former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

If the Dolphins don’t get the No. 1 pick but want Jones, they must hope teams picking ahead of them already have their anointed quarterbacks (St. Louis, Jacksonville). Incidentally, Kiper said Luck is so good, that he would be “celebrating losses as a victory” if he were a Dolphins fan.

Luck has one season of eligibility remaining but it is widely assumed he will turn pro after he passed up on being the No. 1 pick this past April.

### Miami’s other likely top 10 options would include North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples (rated second overall by Kiper); junior offensive tackles Matt Kalil of USC (third), Jonathan Martin of Stanford (sixth) and Riley Reiff of Iowa (seventh); and receivers Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State (fifth) and Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina (ninth).

Most evaluators have Alabama running back Trent Richardson as a top 10 pick; Kiper has him eighth: “He can be absolute star” if he becomes more consistent. But running back won’t be a need if Daniel Thomas continues to impress.

As for Coples, Kiper said he’s “your prototypical, elite pass-rushing defensive end. Quickness, incredibly long arms, and regularly schools offensive tackles on the way to the quarterback.”

### What about the Top 10-caliber receivers? Blackmon, 6-4, is “a better version of Dez Bryant and the best practice player any of the Oklahoma State coaches can remember,” Kiper said. “Has elite physical size and strength, runs great routes, breaks tackles.” Jeffery, 6-4, “will draw Calvin Johnson comparisons,” Kiper said. “Phenomenal hands. A perpetual matchup nightmare.”

### Players considered borderline top-10 picks include inside linebackers Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State (“great instincts and will draw Ray Lewis comparisons,” Kiper said), Luke Keuchly of Boston College (“dependable tackling machine”) and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame; defensive tackles Alameda Ta’amu of Washington and Brandon Thompson of Clemson, and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.

### FYI: Baylor junior quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) in his first three games this season, has great arm strength and deep-ball accuracy and could rise into the first round if he turns pro, Lande said Friday. But Lande said he doesn’t expect him to become a top-10 pick.

Kiper said Griffin’s performance against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas later this season “will go a long way in him deciding whether he goes into the NFL or needs an extra season” at Baylor. Kiper believes Griffin is an “equally good athlete and more polished passer than Terrell Pryor.” Oakland picked Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft.

Potential second-round quarterbacks include Arizona’s Nick Foles and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill.



### The Marlins have interest in acquiring pitcher Carlos Zambrano – whom the Cubs want to trade – if Chicago picks up a large chunk of his $18 million salary for 2012 and doesn’t expect a lot in return. Zambrano’s numbers were down last year (9-7, 4.82 ERA), but he didn’t pitch the final 6 1/2 weeks, including four when the Cubs placed him on the disqualified list after he cleaned out his locker and told clubhouse staffers that he planned to retire (he quickly changed his mind) following a bad start and ejection against Atlanta.

But he’s only 30 and is 43-26, with a 3.96 ERA, over the past four years. Zambrano told a Spanish newspaper that he and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen speak almost every day.

### The Marlins also are intrigued by impending Texas free agent lefty C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94), but some Marlins officials don’t see wisdom in paying close to $20 million a year for a pitcher. Somewhat less expensive would be White Sox free agent lefty Mark Buehrle (13-9, 3.59 ERA). He has a good relationship with Guillen and said it would be “an interesting challenge” to switch leagues.

The Marlins publicly have ruled out a $100 million payroll. The team’s front office has been expecting a payroll around $80 million, but Jeffrey Loria appears willing to consider exceeding that somewhat if he can get high-impact players.

The Marlins would be at about $66 million if you count six players signed, 10 under team control and arbitration-eligible Anibal Sanchez, Emilio Bonifacio, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop and possibly Chris Volstad.

So if they could get Zambrano for say, $6 million, and Buehrle for $14 million (his 2011 salary), the Marlins would have one of the league’s best rotations, on paper. But in this scenario, Loria would need to spend a few million more (about $90 million in total payroll) to add an inexpensive veteran who could start in center or at third base if neither Chris Coghlan nor Matt Dominguez wins the one open starting position player job.

### Another option that hasn’t been ruled out would be trading disappointing Ricky Nolasco ($9 million) for cheaper, big-league-ready talent. And the Marlins also will consider adding both Zambrano and a free-agent pitcher who’s cheaper than Buehrle (such as Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon or lefties Paul Maholm or Chris Capuano).

For the first time, Marlins scouts were asked to evaluate and prepare reports on every available pitcher, even the most expensive.

### The Marlins will discuss the merits of making a run at free agents Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder; it’s not out of the question, but two team officials expressed considerable skepticism about landing either. If the Marlins somehow could, it would leave little or no money to upgrade the rotation, which the team’s baseball people consider its biggest need. But it’s Loria’s decision on the big-ticket free agents.   

### The bankruptcy trustee in the Nevin Shapiro case said it’s trying to work with UM and the NCAA to recoup money from former players and coaches before it takes matters into its own hands and considers issuing subpoenas to make the allegedly involved players testify under oath.

### The Heat wants to keep Mario Chalmers and can match any offer, but worries about another team driving up his price with an inflated bid. The Heat isn’t enamored with free agents T.J. Ford, Delonte West or incumbent Mike Bibby; all would be among options only if the Heat can find nothing better. They hope to find a better complement to Chalmers if there’s an amnesty clause in the new labor deal, which could free up Baron Davis (who has a good relationship with LeBron James), among others.


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Please have Shapiro subpoena the 72 players, as long as Shapiro is on the stand too. Let's see what the real truth is about the situation. Yahoo has changed the story several times since it's release. They have already retracted the abortion story.


No one can tell the future especially since there will be a new coach, at a minimum, in 2012. But no matter who is in charge, if they have the chance and pass on Luck, I will pass on this team forever.


Dolphin fan for 36 yrs and im hoping we have the #1 pick so we can get Luck. Didnt realize he could stay in school if he doesnt want to play for the fins. He has to know that if Miami ends up with the worst record wich they may but since Sage is back we may win a few games and not get the number 1 pick. I think Dan Marino should call Andrew Luck and convince him Miami would be a great spot for him to be a hero. Its no secret Miami is a train wreck franchise that took 12 yrs to realize no QB = no success !!! I wish i could pick the players for this team.. Why ? Because i care alot more than some of these bums that have been making the player choices for the last 12 yrs. We should be loaded with good players after all these horrible seasons.. Right now we are the dumbest team in football... By far..


Hey Wanstache, I agree if this team has the chance to draft Luck and passes im 100 PERCENT DONE !! Its crazy that we would even think they could pass on him and sign an o-lineman or whatever ?? But, this franchise is so lost when it comes to understanding the QB is the most important position on a nfl football team. After seeing the success Marino created for this franchise for yrs. without a running game and an average defense for most of the time he was here.. It blows my mind.. Look at the Colts. Without Peyton they are a last place team. With him they are the top team in the afc south !! Take Henne or any Miami QB since Marino and put him as the QB on any superbowl winner in the past 12 yrs and none of those teams even make the SuperBowl !! Not even the 2001 Ravens !!! Any Buisness that has the decesion makers making horrible choices goes out of buisness !! This once proud franchise is the laughing stock of football now.. Why ? No QB. Look at the improvment in Carolina and with the Bengals due to the rookie Qbs play. A really good team with Below average QB play wont win the big one. A good team with a great QB has a great shot at winning the big one.. Its hard to evaluate a team when you have bad QB play.. Thats the problem with Miami.. Thats it !!


Early October and already talking draft...how low we've fallen...Let's just hope there's overall better talent evaluation this time, not only at QB. Case in point, Erik Walden, starting linebacker for the GB Packers. Can it be that the NFL champs can't do better than start a guy Miami CUT not too long ago?? Really?? This has become a pattern over the last decade, getting rid of players that go on to be productive on other teams (e.g Welker, Izzo, Evans). What do top teams' FOs see that we don't?? Telling...


Sorry but they will pick another lineman. Passed on Matt Ryan and Dez Bryant. The Phins do not deserve any good old boys from Oklahoma. Landry and Blackman will look good in a Cowboy uniform. Who's yo Mama sleeping with?

JS in LA

Not even worth discussing about #1 prospects. QB#1, QB#2, or QB#3 (4, 5, 6 whatever) as our first pick. PERIOD.


The Dolphins Organization will blow this draft as they have the previous other drafts. This is the poorest run organization in the NFL.

Ross has no clue what he is doing and listens to morons.

Red headed step child needs to go back to the orphanage.

Parcells took his money and ran like a coward.

And all the while... Joe Robbie is rolling over in his grave.


I'm with PMEADOWS - If they blow this draft, I'm done. I'm sorry go ahead and call me a ship jumper if you like. I'm been hanging on to the railing of this ship for almost half of my life. Sorry I see no reason for supporting a team that I wouldn't even buy a ticket to go and see. NO QB, 1 hurricane player, NO DIK (sorry meant defense), trade everyone that was good ie: welker etc...

I've had it. Thank you Ross for absolutely nothing!

Don Shula and Dan Marino are ashamed of you.

Go back to real estate and leave football business to football people.


Before selecting a QB they need to clean house.
Allow the new coach (Bill Cowher) to be settled and analyze the talent or lack that we have so he can make the proper decisions. QB though is the only proper choice they have heading into the future.


We need a complete re-evaluation and clean-up house on the players and start from scratch. Including the coaches, GM and Anthony(stop the bleeding)Sparano. He truly has not shown us anything even in his Offensive Line structuring and coaching, they truly suck is a disgrace. Dan Marino don't feel bad about the club sucking for Luck, they have brought this on themselves.


Former Dolphin players are all turning their backs in shame as their once proud team and organization sinks more and more out of sight and towards the bottom of the abyss.

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