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Dolphins studying draft-eligible receivers; plus Fins, Heat, Canes, Marlins tidbits

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

 

With Brandon Marshall gone, the Dolphins are carefully studying early and mid-round options at receiver. A quick primer:

### Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is considered the only top-10 caliber receiver, but most expect he will be selected before Miami’s pick at No. 8. Blackmon (fourth in Mel Kiper’s mock draft), Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd (13), Baylor’s Kendall Wright (26) and Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill (30) likely will be gone before Miami picks again at No. 41.

Which receivers would make sense at No. 41? Sporting News draft analyst and ex-Browns scout Russ Lande and Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline said LSU’s Rueben Randle (53 catches, 917 yards) and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery (49, 762). Many believe Randle will be gone before 41 – Pauline isn’t as convinced – but Pauline expects Jeffery, whose stock has slid, will be there.

“Last year, Jeffery was out of shape, but when the ball is in the air, he reminds me of Sidney Rice and Randy Moss, a guy who can make acrobatic catches with defenders on him,” Lande said. But he’s not a polished route runner.

“And he’s a risk,” Pauline said. “He’s not very quick or fast. He reminds me a lot of Mike Williams coming out of USC.” (Williams has been a disappointment, with 127 catches in five pro seasons.)

Wright, Hill and Randle could be in play if the Dolphins, through a trade, end up with a pick in the late 20s or early 30s.   

“Randle could be a steal,” Kiper said. “He could have been far more productive in a more dynamic passing offense. Randle is better suited to beating defenses over the top [than Jeffery]. He will be a lot quicker into and out of his breaks because he’s got a leaner frame.”

Who else is worthy of selecting at 41? Lande said Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu (115 catches, 1206 yards last season) and Arizona’s Juron Criner. “Sanu has great hands, runs great routes,” Lande said.

Pauline said of the receivers who could be there at 41, only Randle, Jeffery and Sanu are worth considering. He includes Sanu because he’s polished and has high productivity but his “lack of speed and quickness are a concern. If Ohio State [offensive tackle] Mike Adams is there, I would take him instead.”

Criner, 6-4, had 11 touchdowns each of the past two years but ran a 4.68 in the 40, which hurts.

### Which of the receivers projected for the third or fourth rounds would best fit Miami’s West Coast offense? Pauline mentions Wake Forest’s Chris Givens, North Carolina’s Dwight Jones, Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins and Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin.

Keep an eye on Givens, who’s on the rise after running a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash. The 6-0 Givens (86 catches, 1330 yards, nine touchdowns last season) has good hands and a lot of the qualities that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wants in a receiver, including yards-after-catch ability.

Jenkins (90, 1276) is quick, with good separation skills, but drops some catchable balls. Jones (85, 1196) was highly productive last year but needs to refine his route-running and is bigger (6-4) than the prototype receiver Philbin had in Green Bay. The 5-10 Martin (66, 777) has explosive speed with excellent short-area quickness.

“In that West Coast system, you need guys with timing, guys that can run good underneath routes, but also guys that can break it down field,” Pauline said. Philbin’s offense also places a premium on receivers who are sharp enough to make route adjustments based on what the defense shows, and the quarterback calls, at the line.

### Besides those players, Lande said realistic options for either of Miami’s two third-rounders include UM’s Tommy Streeter (“there’s a risk because he’s a guy that will struggle to get open consistently”); Iowa’s Marvin McNutt (gets good separation and Dolphins receivers coach Ken O’Keefe was his offensive coordinator); Arkansas’ Joe Adams and Jarius Wright (not big receivers, but good speed); Ohio State’s DeVier Posey (some have him lower) and Wisconsin’s Nick Toon (inconsistent effort and durability questions). McNutt, a former quarterback whose skills would fit well in the West Coast offense, is on Miami’s radar.

### The Dolphins also are intrigued by Streeter, who could go late in the second or somewhere in the third. He met with the Dolphins twice recently and will work out for them April 4.

### Others projected for the third-round range: California’s Marvin Jones (good run after catch ability); Appalachian State’s Brian Quick (“he’s a long ways away,” Lande said), Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles (last year’s torn ACL hurts his stock), Houston’s Patrick Edwards (1752 receiving yards last year but similar to Clyde Gates) and Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller (questionable hands).

UM’s Travis Benjamin and FYU’s T.Y. Hilton could go in the fifth-round range.

CHATTER

### How could the Dolphins, who initially expressed confidence about landing Peyton Manning, so miscalculated their chances? Here’s how: They overestimated the importance of location and the fact he has a condo here; believed he would be more enamored with the roster than he was; didn’t expect Denver and Tennessee to be as aggressive; and way underestimated the importance to Manning of having people around him that he knows and with whom he is comfortable.

Here’s the irony: Manning has a much stronger relationship with Bill Parcells, who’s a confidante of Manning’s, than anyone with the Dolphins. If Parcells were still with the Dolphins, they would have had a much better shot. The teams Miami always feared were the Texans and 49ers.

### The Dolphins, looking for another linebacker, have inquired about New England free agent Gary Guyton, a part-time starter. Former Steelers standout James Farrior (78 tackles, two sacks) would love to play here but he’s much older (37) than Miami wants.... For a position by position look at free agency, see our last post. For the story on Alex Smith's surprise visit to Fins camp Sunday, see the sports home page.

### With ticket sales badly lagging, the Dolphins likely will reduce stadium capacity next season by several thousand.

### Despite reports from Yahoo and Fox Sports Ohio that LeBron James will consider a return to Cleveland in summer 2014, the Heat believes those stories are inaccurate and aren’t concerned. Management is confident he’s happy here.

### Eddy Curry has dropped below 300 pounds for the first time in a while, and coaches rave about his work ethic. Udonis Haslem said his defense in practice has improved immensely. But the staff still isn’t convinced he can offer as much than Dexter Pittman (especially defensively) in limited minutes. And Spoelstra has barely used Pittman the past three games…. Center Ronnie Turiaf, who will be released by Denver, could emerge as an option for the Heat. Remember, players who have been in the league this season must be released or bought out by Friday to be playoff eligible. The Hornets said last week they are not inclined to buy out Chris Kaman.

### There’s concern inside UM that the Hurricanes might lose juniors Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji to the NBA draft, which would leave Miami without any high-quality big men. NBA draft analyst Chris Monter and an NBA scout said it’s hardly certain that either would be drafted. “They’re not as good as they think they are,” the scout said. “Reggie would have to be a center; he’s too slow to play power forward. Kadji shoots OK but doesn’t rebound enough. He’s soft.” Mediocre Julian Gamble, who has missed the season with an injury, would be UM's best big man if Johnson and Kadji bolt.

### We’re curious to see if Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes can replicate last year’s league-leading .337 average or revert more to his career mark (.292, never higher than .307 before 2011). “I changed a bit last year – it was the first time I hit a lot to the opposite field.”

Reyes, who missed 36, 29 and 126 games the past three years, said “my legs are strong,” but added he cannot improve his durability because “sometimes when you run, you pull a hamstring. That’s part of my game.” But Reyes (39 steals last year) said he won’t run less. Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio (40 steals) and Hanley Ramirez (20) hope to create base-path havoc.

### The Marlins’ lack of a stadium naming rights deal isn’t for lack of effort. At one point, they thought a deal would get done with Pepsi but it fell apart.

Comments

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sflafan

The way things are shaping up, it might be a good year to trade down, pick up an extra pick, and pick up a receiver like Floyd or Wright later in the first round.

cote sucks

Thank you Barry for the extra insight into how freaking delusional the Dolphins front office is. Man, they really do live in some kind of alternate reality. It just shows that they have no idea what they are doing.

Please Stephen Ross, sell the Dolphins. You ineptitude as an owner is on display for the entire world to see, and you will never be taken seriously in professional sports. Please go away and take your lover, Jeff Ireland, with you.

Mike

I'd rather have Ross than Bud Adams, Bill Bidwell, or Dan Snyder. These guys are nuts and the laughingstock of the NFL.

miramarcane

So Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji are not as good as they think they are. What does that say of the hoops team then?

George Siblesz

Why the hell would Johnson and Kadji even CONSIDER NBA draft at this point? IF they actually wanna go, they'd stick around for one more year, make it into the NCAA Tourney and try to really boost their stock there.

George S

This draft seems very deep with talent this year so if I'm the Phins, I strongly consider trading that pick down for a later 1st round pick and a later pick. If there is anything Ireland has proven, is that he has an easier time finding later talent gems (Bess, Hartline, Langford, Gates, Clay, Jimmy Wilson, Carpenter, etc.) than making the obvious first round selection (Don't get me wrong, Odrick and Pouncey are fantastic players. But our second round picks last couple years havent' been all that great.. Misi is OK... Thomas looks average at best... John Jerry in the 3rd round was taken two spots ahead of Jimmy Graham, etc.)

jb iv

dolphins mess started with wayne who hired a parade of inept coaches/gms.

ross cannot be blamed. he is a victim. like obama, he inherited this mess

rboud

Johnson and Kadji are dreaming if they think they are ready for the NBA. Johnson still needs to lose many pounds, something he's shown an inability to do, if he has any chance of being a pro. Kadji needs a lot of improvement in all areas. It must be in the water at UM. Bad decisions by underclassmen coming out is an epidemic.

keyrat69

Agree with you rboud. Neither UM player is NBA material at this point. Johnson is still a "toad" who has shown no consistency. Kadji simply disappears...I have to look to see if he's on the court or on the bench. I know he doesn't have an extensive basketball background...even more the reason he needs all the "schooling" the ACC can provide him next year. If Reggie doesn't come in at around 250 lbs next year, you'll know then that he's not a hard worker.

C Alvarez

Hey Barry...tell us the reason why the stadium deal with Pepsi and samson fell apart? Did Pepsi relize what a dirtbag samson is and wont do business with them? Did Pepsi relize their image and brand are to clean to be associated with a pack of thieves that will be facing trouble down the road? Or did Samson think he was dealing with Miami politicans??? Pepsi wouldnt fall for Samsons BS ??? Guess samson thinks Pepsi'stupid too? What's the real deal Barry?

Derek

Why can't we trade up for Blackmon? I mean, we now have two extra 3d round selections, and a pretty good slot at No. 8. Why are we not examining a draft swap with Minnesota? I do not necessarily believe that Minnesota would grab on such a deal; however, even if they lose Kahlil, they can pick up Reiff at No. 8, and still have an additional two draft choices. In the meantime, Blackmon would allow for some redemption in the Dolphins giving away Marshall to the Bears.

George S

@ rboud

Johnson has lost considerable weight sinceh is freshmen season. I remember watching him play in his first season wtih the U and he looked lik Dexter Pittman did when he was with Tex. Kid has worked hard, so don't knock him for that.

But yes, he needs to stay in school and Kadji as well. If they are both healthy next year and are committed to becoming pros, they should really step up their games next year togetehr and help miami make a run in the NCAA tourney.

IBGO

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trade for anyone with the Pats. You'll wind up losing something or somone you will regret losing later. Usually a future first round pick(they stockpile them. I think they are fat for like the next 5 years in extra first round picks) or a player like Welker that will go All-Pro with them.

SDOT

6 Trent Richardson RB 5'11" 224 Alabama Top 10 96
7 Riley Reiff OT 6'6" 300 Iowa Top 10 95
8 Jonathan Martin OT 6'6" 304 Stanford Top 10 95
9 Dre Kirkpatrick CB 6'2" 190 Alabama Top 10 95
10 Quinton Coples DE 6'6" 272 North Carolina Top 10 95
11 Andre Branch DE 6'4" 260 Clemson 1st Rd 94

Draft spot # 8, which of these players would bring the most value for the Dohphins?


SDOT

SDOT

Quarterback Position: Did Matt Moore perform well enough to pass up on the top available quarterbacks? I don’t have the answer But if he did! Why not just draft the best player in round one?


SDOT!

SDOT

Our Dolphins recruiter appears a sleep or just looking more towards the Draft. The Bills released (Wisconsin Paul Hubbard Wide Receiver who possess good height and speed Miami needs him a different maker He did play on the same high school team as Vince Jackson.

SDOT!

d

Matt Moore, Cameron Wake, Reggie Bush and this year's #8 pick for Tebow! Do it now, Ireland! Tebow!

d

TEBOW!!!

GOD NO

If the Dolphins even consider trading for Tim Tebow I'm canceling my season tickets.

OC Panther

Barry,
What are your thoughts on how much longer Isiah gets at FIU?

Love the insight into the the Phins mishandling of the QB hunt.

This is a sports blog.

FIU?

File that one under who gives a f*ck.

pantherfan

Dolphins should draft T.Y. hilton.

Larry


Can't believe they still are blaming Bush for the mess that we are in after 3 years+ with Obama.(see jb iv) That's OK it lets me know how long we can blame O.after my guy gets elected in Nov.

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