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Dolphins win coin toss, plus 10 other NFL Combine tidbits

Friday morning update: The Dolphins have won the coin toss with Carolina early this morning and will pick eighth in the first round of the April 26 draft. Carolina will pick ninth.

Among the players the Dolphins could be choosing from: North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram and Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, among others. By being eighth instead of ninth, there's also a better chance - albeit not a great one - that two of the draft's best players at this position - Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne - could slip to that spot. 

The Dolphins - who finished tied with Carolina and Buffalo at 6-10 - will pick ninth in the second round, eighth in the third, ninth in the fourth, and so forth.


For a long, complete version of what Jeff Ireland and Joe Phibin had to say here in Indianapolis Thursday, see our last post. Beyond what Ireland and Philbin had to say, here are 10 other tidbits of local interest from Thursday’s session with some of the draft prospects and some team coaches and executives:

### Jets coach Rex Ryan had a lot to say, as usual. He began his news conference, unprompted, by saying “obviously it was a huge mistake” to guarantee last February that the Jets would win the Super Bowl. He said he believes the guarantee had something to do with the team’s disappointing 8-8 season.

“I thought it would motivate our team,” he said. “In hindsight, it brought undue pressure on our team. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a great deal. We had a terrible season and I take full responsibility for that. We have a team with potential to do great things.”

### Ryan, on his new offensive coordinator and ex-Dolphins coach Tony Sparano: “I’ve always admired him. I never liked him. I couldn’t put my finger on why.” Ryan finally figured out why: “That guy thinks he’s as tough as I am. He might be tougher.” Ryan said he spends an hour a day with Sparano.

### Neither Ryan nor Arizona Cardinals officials ruled out a run at Peyton Manning. Ryan was asked a couple times why he wouldn’t rule out the Jets pursuing Manning, considering that Ryan said recently that he’s firmly behind Mark Sanchez. But Ryan sees no reason to do that: “We will look at everybody,” he said. “There are 10 free agent quarterbacks I’ve looked at.” A Kansas City radio station said Tom Condon (Manning's agent) has spoken to the Chiefs about Manning, though that would be tampering if true (a big if).

### Denver coach John Fox said “we’re very comfortable with Tim Tebow” but they’re looking “to improve every position.” Tebow will enter camp as the starter, but the Broncos are expected to bring in quarterbacks to challenge him. "Tebow is going to be a great quarterback in this league," Fox said. "How long it takes? I can't tell you." Dolphins free agent Chad Henne, who will be moving on from Miami, is a possibility.

### We asked Fox's Brian Billick who he would take if the Dolphins hired him - Matt Flynn or Manning. Billick didn't have a strong conviction. "If it's Stephen Ross deciding, it will be Manning," he said. "He better be prepared to pay him $28 million, $30 million." Billick likes Flynn but "the league is replete with guys with short-term success and they go someplace else for an entire year and struggle."

### The Dolphins crave pass rushers, and Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril ranks among the best potential free agents. But coach Jim Schwartz made clear the Lions want to keep him. And Arizona GM Rod Graves said he expects to re-sign potential free agent Calais Campbell, the ex-UM standout.

### UM’s Jacory Harris was invited to the Combine not only to audition for himself but also to be a “throwing quarterback” – in other words, the guy who throws to receivers during their auditions. Harris said he doesn’t mind doing that because it gives him extra exposure. T.J. Yates filled that role last year, then ended up starting in Houston this season after injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart.

Harris said he expects to be drafted – Mel Kiper is among those who disagrees – and that he has been working with former Canes tight end Greg Olsen and former Lions quarterback Drew Stanton.

### The Cowboys are still deciding whether to place the franchise tag on linebacker Anthony Spencer, who would be a potential Dolphins target if he hits the market. “Spencer’s been a very good player,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’re not ready to make that decision.”

### Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers coach and ex-UM defensive coordinator under Butch Davis, said he feels very good having Davis on his staff as a special advisor. Davis has been given a meaningful role. “Butch is someone I really trust,” he said. “It’s been a huge advantage.” Schiano hired Bryan Cox - who wasn't retained on the Dolphins staff - as his "front seven" coach (as in, defensive linemen and linebackers).

### Iowa left tackle Riley Reiff, projected to go to Miami in some mock drafts, said he has played only one game at right tackle (in his redshirt freshman year) but envisions no problems switching to that side if he’s picked by a team that’s set at left tackle, such as the Dolphins. "I'd be happy to move over,'' he said. Reiff was very complimentary of Ken O'Keefe, Iowa's longtime offensive coordinator who was recently hired by Philbin as receivers coach.