Notes on a late Wednesday night:
### The latest free agent to visit Dolphins headquarters Wednesday: veteran fullback Ahmard Hall, who was ranked 26th of 29 players at his position by Pro Football Focus last season. Hall, 32, has 40 starts in six seasons, all with Tennessee, including seven starts last season.
During his career, he has 80 yards rushing on 24 carries (3.3 average) and 561 yards on 73 receptions. Undrafted out of Texas, Hall spent four years in the Marines. The Dolphins are looking for a fullback to compete with CFL import Jerome Messam. Lex Hilliard, the Dolphins’ primary fullback last season, signed with Minnesota.
### The players most often mentioned in connection with the Dolphins’ first-round pick at No. 8 are Ryan Tannehill, Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, Michael Floyd, Riley Reiff and – if either surprisingly drops – Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne.
But if CBS and NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly put together the Dolphins’ draft board, Tannehill, Coples, Ingram, Floyd and Reiff are not the players he would rate No. 7 to 10.
Casserly said there are six clear cut top players in the draft: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Blackmon and Claiborne.
After that, he rates Alabama safety Mark Barron at No. 7 (“he’s a Pro Bowl type prospect); Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 8 (“smart, instinctive and can run; he’s better than Jonathan Vilma”); Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe at No. 9 and Stanford guard David DeCastro at No. 10. He has Notre Dame receiver Floyd 11th and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox 12th.
Barron or Poe would be surprising picks for Miami and DeCastro would be unspeakably shocking. But Kuechly cannot be ruled out. Though he projects as an inside linebacker, Casserly said there’s no reason he cannot play outside linebacker. He led the nation with 191 tackles last season, to go with three interceptions. But Kuechly, 6-3 and 242 pounds, was used more in coverage than as a pass rusher and had just 2.5 sacks in three years.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock rates Kuechly the sixth-best player in the draft but expects him to go between picks 12 and 20.
### Matt Moore told WQAM’s Joe Rose on Wednesday: “I was fully expecting a quarterback competition. I still am. You just want a fair shot to show your talent and prove to coaches you can win. That’s all I was hoping for and I think that’s the situation we have here.”
### TNT's Charles Barkley told a Chicago radio station on Wednesday: "I think the Bulls have a really good chance against the Heat [in the playoffs]. I think the Bulls are better. I think LeBron James has to play at a Michael Jordan-type level every night because that team has so many holes on it. James is the best player in the NBA. if he doesn't play at a crazy level and make those guys better - Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem - if he doesn't get those guys off, they can't win. Chris Bosh hasn't had a double double in like two months. They're clearly not a good rebounding team. Their bench isn't very good.""
### The impression Erik Spoelstra has left a few times in recent games is he will give Norris Cole a brief first-half stint (just three minutes against Boston), but go back to him in the second half only if he plays well. (Cole went 0-for-1 and wasn’t used after halftime.)
Spoelstra declined to discuss his approach with Cole, but if James Jones continues to play well, Spoelstra may instead opt to continue using him with Shane Battier and Mike Miller off the bench, with Dwyane Wade or LeBron James handling point guard duties when Mario Chalmers is out. That’s a smart approach, considering how ineffective Cole has been since the All-Star break.
For a look at the state of the Heat heading into Thursday’s Bulls game, see our previous post.
### Josh Johnson’s first two starts have been disconcerting, though he insisted he wasn’t discouraged by Wednesday’s outing against the Phillies. He allowed 10 hits in the opener (equaling a career high), then 11 hits (and six runs) in 3 2/3 innings vs. Philadelphia Wednesday. “He missed almost a whole year last year,” interim manager Joey Cora said. “It’s going to take time to be the J.J. we know. He’s a whole lot better than that.”
### Friday’s Marlins-Astros game – was which supposed to be one of only five non-televised Marlins games this season – has been picked up by MLB Network and will be aired in South Florida, opposite Heat-Charlotte and Game 1 of Panthers-Devils.
### Jeff Dinetz, station manager for 790 The Ticket, said as he searches for a successor for morning host Jorge Sedano (who quit this week to concentrate on TV opportunities), he doesn’t want someone who will talk only about sports.
“Everything will come back to sports, but I want to talk about what’s happening on Dancing With The Stars and pop culture and other things,” he said. “It can’t just be about X’s and O’s."
The station has made clear that it was Sedano's decision to leave and he could have stayed if he wanted. He offered to work through mid-May, but the station declined because of contractual reasons (according to program director Tod Cassleberry). Sedano pointed out he had the highest morning sports ratings in the station's history. The Sedano/Joe Rose battle was very competitive, with Sedano winning several books in recent months.
But Dinetz said overall as a station, "We were 18th, 19th in men 25 to 54 last month. We haven't been in the top 15 and that’s unacceptable.”