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Early look at possibilities in Dolphins' draft range; Fins, Heat, Canes, Marlins chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The Dolphins’ draft plans won’t begin to take shape until a new general manager is hired. But the players who could be available with Miami’s 19th overall pick are beginning to come into focus.

First, here’s who presumably won’t be there at 19: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and offensive tackles Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Greg Robinson (Auburn). All are top-six caliber picks, per ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Fast-rising Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack (100 tackles, 11 sacks last season) projects in that range, too.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater presumably will be gone before Miami’s pick, and unless the new GM wants to move on from Ryan Tannehill (which would be very surprising), you can discount Miami drafting the other first-round quarterbacks: UCF’s Blake Bortles and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, who could be gone by 19 anyway.

It’s also difficult to envision the Dolphins using a first-round pick at receiver, their deepest position. Projected first-rounders there include Clemson’s Sammy Watkins (rated sixth by Kiper), Southern California’s Marqise Lee (14th) and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans (15th). McShay has FSU’s Kelvin Benjamin 29th.

Several defensive ends could be in Miami’s range, but that’s already a position of strength, with Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, who could play outside linebacker but is viewed as more of an end by this staff. Defensive ends projected for Miami’s draft range include Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt (“combination of elite quickness and great size,” Kiper said) and Missouri’s Kony Ealy (eight sacks).

So who could make sense at No. 19? Among the possibilities:

### Defensive tackles: Kiper projects FSU’s Timmy Jernigan as the 10th-best prospect (McShay has him seventh), so he could be gone. “I love his great sense of how to disrupt the run game,” Kiper said on ESPN.com….

Notre Dame’s 6-3, 326-pound Louis Nix III, rated 24th by Kiper and 17th by McShay, could be there. Nix missed the final three games after knee surgery “and didn’t perform particularly well when he was on the field,” McShay said. “His stock could drop after scouts watch the tape of his play against Michigan State. But it’s hard to see him falling out of the first round, given his physical abilities and the way he played in 2012.”

Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman could move into Miami’s range. McShay said he is an “outstanding athlete for his position and is effective as a bull rusher and against the run.”

### Running back: Though teams can find productive backs later in the draft, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde (rated 18th by Kiper) could be tempting. He ran for 1521 yards and 15 touchdowns and averaged 7.3 per carry this past season. “Punishing runner who can run through and bounce off contact,” said Kiper, who ranks him 18th overall.

### Tight end: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron (62 receptions, 973 yards, three touchdowns) also would be tempting, but he’s projected to go higher than Miami’s pick. Kiper has him seventh and McShay 14th. Kiper said he has the “size to overwhelm cornerbacks and most safeties.”

### Linebacker: Keep in mind two prospects: Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier (142 tackles, six sacks; rated 21st by Kiper) and Clemson’s Vic Beasley (12 sacks/rated 22nd by Kiper).

Kiper calls Beasley “an exciting prospect because the ceiling could be very high.” All of the draft prospects mentioned in this column are either seniors or underclassmen who have declared for the draft --- except Beasley, who's a junior and still undecided. Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney told reporters Saturday night that Beasley is still weighing his options.  

Former general manager Jeff Ireland typically would have shied away from a linebacker as small as Shazier, who is 6-2 and 225 pounds, but a new GM might think differently. Kiper calls Shazier “versatile, quick, instinctive, a strong tackler” who has the “burst and agility” to stay with running backs and tight ends in coverage….

Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley --– who has great cover skills and is rated eighth by McShay and 13th by Kiper -- could be gone by No. 19, unless teams grow concerned about his history of medical issues (shoulder, elbow, hip).

### Offensive tackle: Many expect Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan (rated 10th by McShay, 11th by Kiper) to be gone by 19. Two tackles who could be there: Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Virginia’s Morgan Moses. But Kouandjio “has been dogged by inconsistency and in particular has been beaten by speed too often,” said Kiper, who rates him 23rd.

McShay ranks Moses 23rd and said he “has the potential to be one of the surprises of this year’s draft, given his physical tools.” McShay said he needs to be more efficient in run-blocking but has improved some.

### Cornerback: Not a need unless the new GM parts ways with free agent Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson ($4.5 million cap savings if he’s cut) or if he doesn’t think as much of Jamar Taylor and Will Davis as Ireland did.

Options here would include Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard (both McShay and Kiper have him as the draft’s 19th-best prospect) and Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert (rated 16th by Kiper). Dennard, according to McShay, is “a playmaker with good instincts and route-recognition skills who is at his best in press coverage.” Kiper calls him "the most versatile defensive back in the draft."

Gilbert had seven picks last season and "is squarely back in the mid-first round mix," Kiper said. "He put together a great season after a subpar 2012."

UF cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (27th by McShay) could rise because of his elite athleticism. So could his teammate, UF cornerback Marcus Roberson, who is rated 26th by McShay but played in just seven games in 2013 because of injury and suspensions. Neither player had a great season.

### Safety: The one very likely first-rounder, at this point, is Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton Dix, rated 16th by McShay and 25th by Kiper, who said Dix “reads the quarterback well and can turn quickly to make plays in any direction.”

Of course, the stock of a lot of players will rise or fall over the next four months. By the way, the draft has been moved a couple of weeks later than past years --- to May 8-10.

CHATTER

### A few people who were in contact with Ireland this past season spoke last week about how frustrated he was with decisions made by his coaching staff about playing time. One agent said Ireland would tell him something about his client and the coaching staff would then tell the player the opposite.

Still, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross does not want to give a general manager authority to fire the head coach, and that’s not unusual, former GM Charley Casserly said.

“Sometimes in general manager contracts, it says the owner must consult with the GM on that,” Casserly said. “But if the owner says, ‘I’m firing the coach,’ that qualifies as consulting.”

### Though two-time NFL Executive of the Year Scott Pioli is available, it’s unlikely Carl Peterson (who is helping and advising Ross on the search) would recommend him to Ross not only because Pioli replaced Peterson in Kansas City, but also because of some of the negative feedback Chiefs people gave Peterson about Pioli before Pioli’s firing. Peterson's opinion carries weight with Ross; Peterson strongly advocated hiring Joe Philbin....

Though Ross likes and has consulted with 49ers offensive consultant and former NFL coach Eric Mangini in the past, he hadn't asked Mangini to interview for the GM job as of Friday, though Mangini would love to run a team. 

### As many of you know, four people already have interviewed for the Dolphins GM job --- the Dolphins' Brian Gaine, Pittsburgh's Omar Kahn, Arizona's Jason Licht and Cleveland's Ray Farmer --- with at least four more expected: Tennessee's Lake Dawson, Philadelphia's Tom Gamble, Atlanta's Lionel Vital and the Giants' Marc Ross.

### One complaint that UM players have raised about defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio is the players don’t feel they can give him suggestions about what they can do differently on defense. “He doesn’t want feedback,” one parent said. Conversely, offensive coordinator James Coley asks players for suggestions, a player said. In fact, Coley is open to feedback during games.

### Four-star receiver/power forward Derrick Griffin, who failed to qualify academically in time for this past football season, tweeted again this week that he will be "down in Miami" later this month. But UM has not received any indication that he has qualified and isn't sure if he will. Both the football and basketball staffs would love to have him.

### There is nothing Erik Spoelstra has praised more passionately this season that Chris Bosh’s defense –-- “Chris is an elite defender and is proving it every single night” --– and consider this: No starting center in the league allows fewer points per possession against the player he’s guarding (factoring in shots and turnovers) than Bosh. Opponents are shooting 37.7 percent against Bosh, lower than against Dwight Howard (38.3) and Joakim Noah (39.9), according to synergysports.com.

Spoelstra even had Bosh as the primary defender on Nets guard Joe Johnson late in Friday's game. "He's our all-team defense guy," Spoelstra said. "He's defended every single position."...

By the way, point guard Norris Cole has allowed the lowest shooting percentage by players he's guarding (34.1) among Heat players. And Cole's improvement offensively was evident when he started in place of the injured Mario Chalmers against the Knicks and Nets.

### Random Heat stuff: Miami's combined six points in its double-overtime loss at Brooklyn on Friday were the fewest scored by a team in a multi-overtime game in the shot clock era, which began in 1954-55.... The Heat already has lost eight games against teams below .500 --- twice as many as it lost all of last season.

### The Marlins are confident Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna (who played well in winter ball) will capably handle starting spots alongside Giancarlo Stanton, but they are exploring adding another outfielder for depth and other reasons and are looking at several options, including Delmon Young, 28, who hit .260 with 11 homers and 38 RBI for Philadelphia and Tampa Bay last season. Young has a home here and would have interest, but the question is whether he would get enough playing time.

The Marlins have a left-handed hitting backup outfielder in veteran Brian Bogusevic, acquired from the Cubs for Justin Ruggiano. Young, a right-handed hitter, hypothetically could fill in at first base and the outfield, playing some against lefties --- a weakness of new starting first baseman Garrett Jones.

The Marlins also might add one or two more veteran relievers to minor-league contracts, with invitations to spring training.

Comments

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Mike B.

One complaint that UM players have raised about defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio is the players don’t feel they can give him suggestions about what they can do differently on defense. “He doesn’t want feedback,” one parent said.


That right there is a recruiting killer. D’Onofrio's and Goldens's lack of imagination is trumped by his stubbornness to identify problems then fix them. "We're going to stick with what we've been doing."

Juan

Worried about UM losing kids in the last week. They've lost out on Lane, Cook, Dixon, a lot of top kids here. Next year will be a disaster.

Mark

Would love Ebron if he's there. Team him with Clay.

Sebastian is sad

This UM coaching staff should be canned right now! They are a disaster and it's only going to get worse' Dream. Shall a has more than enough reasons to boot Golden and his sidekick to the curb after the hi jinks of the past week. She shouldn't have to pay these clowns one more cent after this mess!

Sebastian is sad

Should read: Dr Shalala has more than enough reasons to boot Golden..
Never try to type on an iPad!

joe r

The need an o-lineman in first round, get a good running back in free agency and then go defense in the next rounds of draft and all will be fine in 2 years...no shortcuts folks, sorry..then next year if you see little to no improvement from qb you have to go get a qb and keep drafting qb's until you hit, if you dont have a really good qb you arent going anywhere, look at the qbs in the playoffs..next year is going to be tough again for this team

joe r

also, all this talk about how much hartline and tannehill worked together, thats great but you know who needs to work together more..tannehill and wallace until they get this deep ball thing down otherwise the team wasted big bucks on wallace...and if tennehill and wallace cant get it right then one of them needs to go sooner(like before start of next season) rather than later, probably tannehill..wallace has alot of trade value and he takes up alot of cap space, if you dont have a qb to get him the rock then trade him now before his value drops after next year

octavio de armas

Just look at the PATRIOTS and see why the DOLPHINS are a zillion years away from being like them. They got an ALL-PRO TE arrested for murder. Injuries galore and yet they find themselves one game away from playing in the SB again. We are like always talking about next season and the draft in January. Enough said !!!

Jakester

Coaching, coaching, coaching. Outstanding owner. Look at our owner-that's where the problems begin.

ManFin

You hit it right on the head dude .Coaching . Look no farther than first Paties game . Up 17 at half & get blown out in 2nd . That's the difference my finfans ! We suffered enough! Hope new GM throws this bums out ! Maybe Shula can give Joedawn some cue cards on how to coach next season !

Kevin

Hey Barry, why arent the Dolphins going to talk with Bill Polian? I know he is 71 but he is still sharp and was running the Colts well at 70. He said on radio the other day he would love the opportunity to interview. Having said that I think Gamble would be a great fit.He had a hand in building the 49ers into the powerhouse and did great job with eagles.What do you think his chances are? Thanks for always a great column!

Barry Jackson

Kevin: Thanks. I agree on Gamble, and Ross likes him. But not everyone is convinced he would leave Philadelphia (for family and other reasons). There's nobody they are interviewing with a better resume.

jmike

Sebastian is sad, she doesn't you idiot, he won 9 hames last year and has a top 15 recruiting class. Please Please tell me how that translates to more than enough reason to can the entire coaching staff. You're a very unsophisticated Miami fan, Bernie Kosar and Warren Sapp are walking through that door anytime soon.

jmike

Kevin, because Polian wants to be President of the team and would bring in his son as GM. His son was terrible as Colts GM when Polian Sr kicked himself upstairs. That's why he doesn't have a job now. Additionally, his last drafts were terrible not one draft choice of the 2010 Colt is still on the team. He's just a name, way past his prime. Don't you think if he was any good some of the other teams that have GM openings would be interviewing him. Not s sniff from any other team.

AnonymousCane

For all supposed Hurricane fans unhappy with Golden et al may I suggest the suicide hotline or just go ahead and shoot yourself so we can avoid all your negativity.

jmike

AnonymousCane, absolutely, the problem with them is are not very knowledgeable fans.

AnonymousCane

I will have to admit that I have heard negatives about coach D from some local coaches, that some of his comments border on arrogance, if not out right!

But that being said, look at 2011 defensive rankings compared to 12 and 13. It was during the 2011 year that he held GT to 212 yards and 7 points when they came into the game averaging 517 yards per game and over 40 points per game as well. They (GT) were also ranked at the time.

That being said count me among those who want him to change it up or go!

jmike

Yeah, but in 2011 Coach D was the DC. What changed was the players.

frostdog0819

@AnonymousCane...The point you made is the Problem.All those underclassmen on defense bailed and left in OH NO!!'s defense. Miami defense was better the previous 3 years.Miami went from 101 in total defense in 2012 and 89th in 2013(101 the last 6 weeks of the season INSANE!!). You can't defend statistics like that at any college in the nation,let alone at Miami.If Golden doesn't produce this year(7-5 or 8-4),he might get canned.Coley will produce on the Offense side of the ball.OH NO!!'s defense is another story.I hope 2014 the defense improves a lot, but we are all hoping.If 2014 doesn't go as planned(IMO 2014 schedule is harder than 2013),and Golden gets fired.The blame should go right to the administration for not doing their job and hiring the right guy for the job.When Golden was selected there was quite a pecking order of 1st time head coaches to get.Pagano,Trestman,Chud,Mark Stoops,even Al stoops(at Arizona) was in play because he wanted to get back to the south.This team is stacked and this class is stacked.The offense will be outstanding, but the D?

Neil's ghost

Eric Kumerow II. injured long snapper from Upper Central Lower Western North Daokta Tech.

Kevin

To jmike,
Polian had one bad draft in a 25 year career. I felt he would be a good person to run the football side. He has built multiple SB winners and would be a better advisor than Carl Peterson. On ESPN radio Polian said that Tom Gamble would be great fit here. So I won't discount one draft. He has spoken with Bucs and the Browns.
I just want someone with a good track record and will turn this team around. It's been too long. I hope it's Gamble that finally gets the job. The 49ers team is all his. That is what we need here.

noreastdolfan

We have got to go after the best left tackle avalable. Also need at least one of the top 5 guards avalable. Definitly need a power running back. Corner Back if Patterson is cut which I think he will be considering his injury's and Grimes leaves for greener pastures. Linebacker to replace Wheeler. He can not be relied upon next season. And, we need a QB option just in case T-Hill can not develope and learn how to throw the deep pass accurately. Free Agents are going to be hudge. Right Tackle & another guard. We need depth on the OL!!!!! A new head coach would be nice to. One who know's how to out coach the opposition on gameday.

long time cane

frostdog0819: I agree with your points and the /your stats show that Miami s defense is not even average no matter what conference they played in.Though I liked Jedd as Miami s OC before Coley came along....Coley has done a good job considering Duke missed the last 5 games and that was crucial for any Offense.Miami s DC has shown the same boring,unimaginative failure/failings in finding anything workable.No stop-gap defensive schemes or players even remotely looking like they are even capable of playing as a Unit.The Cane s DC is clueless and thinks precisely as Golden as they both believe in contibuity...no matter how incompetent it "continues" to remain,year after year.Annonymous Cane is hardly a sports genius and I laugh at him disparaging other Cane fans with opinions just as free to express as his.Too funny.

Frustrated

Play calling on both sides for the Canes is lackluster. Louisville dropped their safety almost every play, yet very few slants and screens were thrown. Coley should have been utilized more, his run after catch skills are insane.

As far as the Dolphins goes: we should be playing for the SB. We beat The Chargers, Colts, and Patriots, then fall apart to the Bills and Jets. Coaching let us down. We lost to the Bills and their 3rd string QB twice. Wallace is a solid WR with elite YAC skills,Tannehill has to be held accountable. Most of Hartline receptions occur because Hartline has to give up on YAC just to catch the ball. Tannehill just leaves so much to be desired. Not worth the No 8 pick, but he's better than Ginn.

IMAWriter

AnonymousCane, absolutely, the problem with them is are not very knowledgeable fans.

Posted by: jmike | 01/12/2014 at 10:53 AM
----
Well, is it 'is" or is it "are" not very knowledgeable?
Moving on, I agree with Mark (@1:10AM) that Ebron would be the guy. He was one of the best 4 offensive players I saw all year. In 3 games I watched, it was a man against boys. NO ONE wanted a piece of him. He is the the TE version of Clowney.
Guaranteed 10 TD's, and not just from the red zone. The guy can motor and is mean.
He and Clay would be our version of Gronk and Hernandez, except without (hopefully) the angst.

Barry, your thoughts?

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