SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
What the evaluators are saying about the Dolphins’ Friday and Saturday draft picks:
### ESPN’s Mel Kiper rated Jamar Taylor fourth among all cornerbacks and said “he went from a fifth-round to a second-round pick on his performance this season. One of the stronger cornerbacks you’ll find. Plays the ball well. Good instincts.”… CBS’ Rob Rang: “Every bit as impressive in zone, press and off-man coverage as well as run support.”…
ESPN’s Todd McShay: “Will be a really good player.”… NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: “Consistent on every tape I studied. Rock solid.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Short arms” but “desirable speed, cover skills. Can play outside or inside” and will “become a solid No. 2 corner.”.. Had four picks, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012.
### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had only a fifth-round grade on third-round cornerback Will Davis. “I kept getting mixed messages,” NFL Network’s Charles Davis said. “One guy liked him a lot. Next guy, not so much.”… Rang compared him to Dolphins cornerback Richard Marshall, in that both have good coverage skills “and may only need greater physicality to emerge as a starter.”….
Pro Football Weekly: “Finesse corner. Needs to get stronger to jam stronger receivers and shed blocks. Average timed speed. [But] should contribute immediately in sub-packages before developing into a No. 2.”… Five picks, 17 pass breakups last year.
### Mayock and Davis agreed Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas is better at guard than tackle. If Dolphins coaches agree, he could replace Richie Incognito in a year…. Mayock: “If they think he’s the answer at tackle, I would disagree.”… As an example, Davis said Thomas “played appreciably better” at guard than tackle against Florida….
The good news: Thomas did not allow a sack either at left tackle in 2011 or at left guard in 2012. But Rang said he is “vulnerable to outside speed rushers” at tackle…. More Rang: “Explosive punch, which he often uses, to knock defenders back in run game.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Clear starter potential” but “looked more comfortable at guard” than tackle. He graded out at 98 percent at left guard in 2012.
### Kiper said Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins is “a good cover guy, can run. Durability concerns. He could have been a first- or second-rounder if he returned to Florida. You added Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker, and you have Koa Misi. Incredibly strong in the upper body.”…
Mayock: “Jenkins is going to make a living on special teams.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Agile, smart and good closing speed. Can run with backs/TEs” but “lacks ideal height [6-0], length and bulk. Poor body fat (18 percent) raises questions about conditioning. Can be overpowered facing inside runs.”
(Jeff Ireland, by the way, said tonight Jenkins "has a chance to be a starter" in the future.)
### Kiper said tight end Dion Sims “can stretch the deep middle, which is rare for a kid this size. Ryan Tannehill will like his big frame and soft hands and ability he brings in the pass offense.”… Twenty nine of his 36 catches in 2012 went for first downs or touchdowns.
But evaluators disagree about his blocking skills. McShay said “he’s going to have to improve as a blocker” and Kiper said “I’d like to see him dominate more as a blocker.” But Mayock said: “He and [Cincinnati’s Travis Kelcie] are the two best in-line blocking tight ends in this draft.”… Pro Football Weekly also said he needs to improve his blocking technique but he's "a load to bring down after the catch. Three-down potential, given size and athleticism.” But he has “concentration drops” and “immaturity could be limiting.”
### Mayock calls Mike Gillislee “an underlooked, bigger back that does everything well without one spectacular trait. Will pass protect. Catches the ball well.” … Davis: “You know what I love most about him? His odometer is low. One year as a featured runner.”… Has a sterling 5.3 career yards-per-carry average, with four fumbles in 421 touches…
McShay: “Some guys have a nose for the end zone. He does [11 touchdowns last season].” Perfect change of pace back."... Kiper notes he has some kickoff return experience, with modest results…. Pro Football Weekly: “Lacks ‘wow’ factor and top end finishing speed. [But] good instincts, vision… Very consistent across the board in every area and has tools to become a very dependable backup. Could prove to be a better pro than college player.”
### Pro Football Weekly on kicker Caleb Sturgis: “Excelled from distance. Experienced, dependable kicker whose strong leg and consistent accuracy give him the look of a longtime pro.” Missed only four of 28 field goals in 2012, but three were blocked…. Was 17 for 22 on field goals of 40 or more last two years. Ireland said it will be a competition between Sturgis and Dan Carpenter.
###### Kiper called Arkansas State safety Don Jones "underrated." (In fact, he was the first under-the-radar prospect I mentioned the FIns were looking hard at more than a month ago.) He has 4.4 speed in the 40 and an impressive 42-inch vertical jump, and the Dolphins will use him at corner, likely in the slot. NFL.com's Gil Brandt said he projects as a fifth or sixth corner. It won't be surprising if he makes the team as a seventh rounder, like Jimmy Wilson did.
### As of last week, Miami hadn’t offered Eric Winston anything more than a one-year deal at very low money, but Winston remains an option unless Miami and the Chiefs revive talks on Branden Albert. The Dolphins and Chiefs discussed the 54th pick, but Miami ultimately decided not to offer it, though they did reach a financial understanding with Albert had a trade gone down.
Jon Gruden said Winston’s play was a “disaster” last year, but keep in mind Pro Football Focus ranked him a solid 26th of 80 tackles (allowed three sacks, 25 quarterback hurries). By comparison, Albert was 25th (1 sack, 12 hurries). Miami hadn't called Bryant McKinnie as of last week and also hasn’t called former Falcons starter Tyson Clabo, among the best free agent tackles left.
### The Fins are giving a tryout next week to Duquesne DB Zach Richert, who is Dan Marino's nephew... The Fins added several undrafted receivers: Arkansas State's Taylor Stockemer, Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis, Northern Iowa's Terrell Sinkfield and Mount Union's Jasper Collins.... Arkansas OLB Alonzo Highsmith, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, also signed with Miami after the draft. He's the son of the former UM great, now a Packers executive.
### Though he was a good team guy, a Dolphins player said Davone Bess grew frustrated at times the past two years after some games when he wasn’t involved as much in the offense as he would like. Bottom line: If he hadn’t been traded, being a fourth receiver likely wouldn’t have sat well with him.
Ireland said tonight he's comfortable with what Miami has at the position. The Dolphins see upside in Rishard Matthews and Armon Binns, who will compete with the undrafted rookies and former practice squad members Jeff Fuller and Brian Tyms for the No. 4 and No. 5 receiver jobs. With Miami using a lot of two tight-end sets, the fourth receiver could end up playing less than last year (16.6 percent of offensive snaps last season for the No. 4 receiver).
### A friend of LeBron James said Cleveland’s re-hiring of coach Mike Brown doesn’t hurt the Cavaliers’ chances of luring James back in 2014 but doesn’t tilt the odds toward Cleveland, either. “He left Cleveland with good feelings for Mike and speaks highly of him [privately],” the friend said.
James’ friend makes the Heat the front-runner to keep him when he can become a free agent in 2014, but also said Cleveland cannot be ruled out because of “his love for Akron – how special it is to him. I’d be very surprised if he considers anywhere but Miami and Cleveland.”
### James, by the way, surprised teammates by giving each of them a new pair of snazzy headsets before the playoffs. Rashard Lewis said that’s the sixth gift he has given teammates this season.
### Remarkable: Chris Andersen has 31 points and 19 rebounds in 42 playoff minutes, and the Heat has outscored the Bucks by 37 points during those minutes. That means he’s averaging a ridiculous 38 points and 22 rebounds per 48 minutes. For perspective, Joel Anthony averaged 8.0 and 7.9 per 48 minutes in a similar role last postseason.
### UM declined overtures to open the 2014 season against LSU at Houston’s Reliant Stadium – smart, considering it will be the first game for Stephen Morris’ successor at quarterback. UM doesn’t need him opening against a usually-stout LSU defense.
### Though Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco said previously he expects to be traded at some point, no team had inquired as of late this week and the Marlins expect talks won’t heat up until the summer, when a contender needs a starter. The Marlins, on a historically anemic pace offensively, hadn't actively looked to trade for a hitter as of Friday.
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