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1 posts from January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

Examining T.B.'s draft record with new Dolphins GM Hickey; UM recruiting news

None of the candidates who interviewed for the Dolphins general manager position has more experience scouting college players than Dennis Hickey, who took the job after two others turned it down and at least four others declined interviews.

Though he never made the final call on draft day, Hickey was very much involved in the Buccaneers’ draft decisions, particularly over the past nine of his 18 years with the team --- six as director of college scouting (2005-2010), the past three as director of player personnel.

How much say did Hickey have in the final decision?

“Fairly significant,” said Mark Dominik, who was Tampa Bay’s general manager from 2009 until his firing at the end of this season. “Dennis got me educated on players.”

Dominik on Monday praised Hickey’s ability as a talent evaluator, and the Buccaneers had some hits during the nine seasons when Hickey had a key position in the front office.

But like all teams, they also had some key misses, including four second-rounders that didn’t meet expectations.

"The record isn't what we wanted [28-52 in Dominik's five years as GM], but we were doing something right in the players we drafted and signed," Dominik said.

A look at those nine drafts that Hickey was intimately involved with, but again, did not make the final decision on: (Note: Bruce Allen, now with Washington, was Tampa Bay's GM during the first four years of these drafts.)

### 2005: Running back Carnell Williams, picked fifth, was a disappointment (3.8 average in seven seasons), with Pacman Jones, Antrel Rolle and DeMarcus Ware among those chosen shortly after. But linebacker Barrett Rudd, selected 36th, became a quality starter.

### 2006: Davin Joseph (23) and Jeremy Trueblood (59) became solid pieces on the offensive line. Third-round receiver Maurice Stovall had just 52 career catches.

### 2007: Defensive end Gaines Adams, taken fourth overall, didn’t quite fulfill expectations, was traded to Chicago for a second-rounder before dying in 2010 from a heart condition. Tampa also took guard Arron Sears (35), who was very good for two years before developing a neurological condition that ended his career; selected a four-year starting safety in Tanard Jackson (106); and over-drafted journeyman safety Sabby Piscitelli at 64.

### 2008: Talented Aqib Talib (picked 20th) had 17 picks in his first four seasons before being traded to New England. Receiver Dexter Jackson (58th) was out of the league within two years, but Jeremy Zuttah (83rd) has been a decent starter.

### 2009: Quarterback Josh Freeman, picked 17th, made the Pro Bowl in his second season before a sharp decline in performance led to his eventual release this past October. Defensive tackle Roy Miller, picked 83rd, started in Jacksonville this season. Only one of the Buccaneers’ other four picks (EJ Biggers) is still in the league.

### 2010: Gerald McCoy (picked third) has become a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, but the 35th pick (UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price) --- chosen one spot before Chiefs running back/Pro Bowl punt returner Dexter McCluster – is out of the league. Receiver Arrelious Benn, picked 39th (three spots before Rob Gronkowski), disappointed and was traded to Philadelphia last year. But receivers Mike Williams (101) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (217) were good value picks.

### 2011: Tampa made prudent selections at No. 20 with Adrian Clayborn (13 sacks in 35 games) and at 84 with linebacker Mason Foster (92 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions this season). But Da’Quan Bowers, picked 51st, has faded (one sack this season) after showing flashes early on.

### 2012: Dominik gives Hickey some of the credit for a draft that yielded three players that made the All-rookie team: safety Mark Barron (No. 7), running back Doug Martin (No. 31) and linebacker Lavonte David, the 58th pick, who has blossomed into a standout (144 tackles, six sacks, five interceptions this season). Safety Keith Tandy (three picks in 2013) was good value at 174.

### 2013: Tampa Bay didn’t have a first-round pick, and cornerback Johnthan Banks (chosen 43rd) has three interceptions in a backup role.

Dominik said Hickey supported the selection of quarterback Mike Glennon at No. 73, and he was the best of the rookie quarterbacks. Hickey also liked the sixth-round selection of UM’s Mike James, who averaged 4.9 yards on 60 carries before fracturing his ankle.

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Patriots personnel director Nick Caserio on Monday declined to comment about the Dolphins’ assertion that he wanted the job but did not take it because the Dolphins would not allow him to “clean house” and immediately fire coach Joe Philbin.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that Caserio likes Philbin and planned to keep him, but the Dolphins dispute that. Comcast Sports New England reported that Caserio did not demand that Philbin be fired but wanted to have a role in determining whether he would be retained after this season.

### The Dolphins also have said that Tennessee Titans player personnel director LakeDawson was willing to retain Philbin but insisted on having the ability to dismiss him after the season. ESPN reported that Dawson did not ask for that authority, and Dawson was in meetings Monday and not immediately available to discuss it.

UM RECRUITING

We’ll have a lot more on UM recruiting in the next few days, but this much is clear: This will be a stressful week for the Hurricanes with regard to three elite local defensive prospects: Chad Thomas, Travonte Valentine and Demetrius Jackson.

Thomas, the five-star Booker T. Washington defensive end, said he remains solidly committed to UM but enjoyed his visit to FSU and hasn’t ruled out the Seminoles in interviews with several recruiting web sites.

Valentine, the four-star Hialeah Champagnat defensive tackle, previously identified LSU as his favorite and told SFHSSports.com that his LSU visit this past weekend was “amazing.” He will visit UM this weekend; the Canes are his only other finalist.

Jackson, the four-star defensive end from Booker T. Washington, told Canesport.com a couple weeks ago that he would cancel his remaining visits and fully intends to honor his UM commitment. But he visited Arkansas over the weekend and hasn’t addressed his future.