9 p.m.: Fins lose out on WR; Dolphins draft buzz: Right tackles, upcoming visits and more; Heat, Marlins, UM chatter
9 p.m. Sunday note: Veteran receiver Nate Burleson has decided to sign with Cleveland instead of Miami. The Dolphins wanted to sign him, but he saw a better opportunity with the Browns because they have fewer veteran receivers.
The Dolphins are still in good shape at receiver with Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Armon Binns. Hartline, Gibson and Binns are coming off significant knee injuries, but the Dolphins have said they expect all three to be ready for the start of the season.
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Dolphins NFL draft chatter:
### The Dolphins, who will be aggressive in filling their right tackle need in the draft, continue to be heavily linked to Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin, and nobody will be surprised if he’s the pick at No. 19. But a team official says the Dolphins would be happy if they could somehow snag Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, who is projected by most analysts to be gone by their pick at No. 19. An associate of Lewan said he is aware of Miami’s interest.
And Lewan isn’t the only Michigan tackle on Miami’s radar. So is potential third-rounder Michael Schofield, who played both tackle and guard in college. The Dolphins have told people they like him.
The concern would be if Lewan and Martin are both gone by No. 19. The Dolphins could trade up or hope that one of the second-round tackles falls to their pick at No. 50, which would be risky.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper projects Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson to go in the late 20s, and Virginia’s Morgan Moses in the 40s. Stanford’s Cameron Fleming could be an option with Miami’s third-round pick at No. 81, and Miami has expressed interest. Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort might be, too.
And the Dolphins this week will audition and dine with UM’s Seantrel Henderson, a potential third-round right-tackle option who couldn’t finish UM’s Pro Day on Thursday because of dehydration.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has said he “thinks the world of Taylor Lewan,” and the high regard for Lewan inside the Dolphins apparently extends beyond Ross.
Mel Kiper projects Lewan ninth to Buffalo: “He has the prototypical length as a pass-blocker and really gets after it as a run-blocker.”
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Lewan are all top-10 talents. The only chance of Lewan falling rests on teams growing concerned about a couple of off-field issues.
Lewan's former teammate, kicker Brendan Gibbons, was expelled from Michigan in December for reportedly violating the school's student sexual misconduct policies in 2009, when he was accused of rape by another student. The alleged victim accused Lewan of threatening her, claiming he said he wanted to rape her if she pursued charges against Gibbons.
Speaking at the NFL Combine, Lewan insisted he made no such comment. "It's a situation between two people," Lewan said, alluding to Gibbons and the woman. "I've said a lot of dumb things, but those are not things I've said. I would never disrespect a woman like that. I consider myself a guy who holds doors, not threatens people."
Lewan also faces an April 18 arraignment in connection with an incident on Dec. 1, following Michigan's loss to Ohio State. Two Buckeyes fans claim they were assaulted by Lewan, who was charged with three misdemeanors.
“I wasn’t in any fight,” he said. “That’s not who I am off the field.”
Lewan added: "I definitely play through the whistle. I also think that's a weakness because everyone likes to comment on that. But I like to play through the whistle and put people in the dirt as much as possible."
As for Schofield, Kiper said he’s “underrated. I think maybe round three, round four. Michael Schofield can be a starting right tackle in this league."
### Kiper said Martin makes sense for Miami because of his “versatility, durability. He’s technically sound. Doesn’t have the arm length [but] worthy of being the 19th pick.”
But Kiper believes Martin might be snapped up by Pittsburgh at 15 or Baltimore at 17, and as a result, he advocates Miami taking Louisville safety Calvin Pryor at No. 19 in that scenario (which doesn’t make a lot of sense) and addressing offensive line with Nevada tackle/guard Joel Bitonio in the second round and Mewhort in the third.
### The Dolphins might draft two tackles --– one early and one later. They flew to Delaware to private audition potential late-round pick Erle Ladson and will bring in Purdue late-round tackle Kevin Pamphile for a workout this week.
### If the Dolphins go for a guard in the second or third rounds, possibilities include Stanford’s David Yankey, Clemson’s Brandon Thomas, Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson, UCLA’s Xavier Su’a Filo, Bitonio and LSU’s Trai Turner. And Dolphins offensive line coach John Benton flew to Gainesville to work out and meet with Gators guard Jon Halapio, a potential mid- to late-round pick.
### Among players auditioning for the Dolphins this coming week: Former FSU and Miami Central High running back Devonta Freeman, who ran for 1016 yards (5.9 per carry) and 14 touchdowns in 2013.
### The Dolphins, deep at receiver, invited Clemson’s Martavis Bryant, a potential second-rounder, to visit team headquarters. He has good speed (fifth-fastest time at the Combine among receivers), good size (6-4) and caught 42 passes for 828 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Teams can bring as many as 30 non-local players to team headquarters, but Miami to this point has not asked many of the prominent offensive linemen to visit South Florida, having spent time with all of them at the NFL Combine. Miami is using some of its visits for players not invited to the Combine, including two Arizona Wildcats: cornerback Shaquille Richardson and outside linebacker Marquis Flowers.
### With Ryan Williams going down with a torn ACL in UM's scrimmage on Friday night, one encouraging development is that Kevin Olsen has played well in the past two scrimmages. He threw an exceptional pinpoint pass to Stacy Coley for a touchdown Friday, even though the play was well defended by Jamal Carter. Olsen's only mistake was an interception by Tracy Howard on a throw late in the scrimmage. UM people say Olsen has clearly improved.
Also encouraging: Receiver Malcolm Lewis, who wasn't himself last year after the horrific 2012 ankle injury, looked very good Friday, with a touchdown reception and another long catch-and-run down the sideline.
### During a playful “true and false” segment with ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard recently, Chris Bosh answered “true” when asked if he and LeBron James will be with the Heat this season.
Asked off the air about that, Bosh said he wasn’t being whimsical despite the light-hearted forum.
“That’s how I feel,” he said. “We have a good thing going and you want to continue to keep it going. We have the ability to win, a great locker-room, great city, great weather. It’s an easy decision.”
And LeBron agrees? “We’re different people, but I would think he thinks that way,” Bosh said.
### The Heat pays attention to plus/minus numbers (though in larger samples sizes than these), and consider that in the five games since James Jones joined the rotation, Miami has outscored opponents by 56 points in 112 minutes with Jones on the court.
Since Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem started getting significant minutes, Miami is plus 21 with Lewis on the floor and plus 49 with Haslem. The play of all three leaves Erik Spoelstra with interesting decisions.
“It’s a unique skill set to not play and be productive,” Jones said. “It takes a special person to be able to deal with this.”
### After Friday's double-overtime loss to Minnesota, the Heat has now lost eight games this season after it held double-digit leads, its most since losing 13 such games in 2007-08, when Miami went 15-67. Last season's Heat team lost only two such games.
"We have a long, long, long, long, long way to go," Bosh said late Friday night. "We have a lot of improving to do."
Where? He pointed to "consistency on defense" for starters. Bosh said "the schedule has been brutal; I've never been part of anything like this."
### Howard Schnellenberger and Jim Kelly were two of the most significant figures in the UM football program’s rise to prominence more than 30 years ago, and Schnellenberger has been offering support to Kelly during his battle with cancer, initially by phone and now through texts. (Dan Marino visited Kelly in the hospital Thursday.)
“What a great leader,” Schnellenberger said. “He took his offensive line out for dinner every Thursday. He’s everybody’s friend, an ordinary guy that does extraordinary things.”
Surgery isn’t a current option for Kelly, who this week will begin six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation to treat a recurrence of cancer that has spread throughout his mouth.
Kelly attended Friday's Knicks game as a surprise gift for his daughter and told MSG Network: "Right now, we're praying for a miracle. Just keep praying for me. We need them." But he added: "I am getting better." A doctor at his hospital said "Kelly's condition remains very treatable and potentially curable."
### By the way, Schnellenberger, now an ambassador-at-large for FAU, said he doesn’t buy the notion that parity makes it unrealistic for UM to return to past greatness: “They have the same pool to recruit from. They have three times the facilities we had. They should be able to recruit better than we did. I’ve been disappointed [in the results]. But the NCAA thing was a real albatross. They have the right coach. [But] he has a real need to win.”
Schnellenberger said FIU firing Mario Cristobal last year --– which was followed by a 1-11 season under Ron Turner --– “was the poorest decision ever made. That will be a stain on their program for 20 years.”
### After winning tonight, Jose Fernandez is now 11-0 in 17 career starts at Marlins Park. Only two other pitchers since 1910 have not lost a game in their first 17 starts at their home ballpark: William VanLandingham (18, 1994-95) and David Palmer (21,1979-84).
### A prediction from Marlins vice president/player development Marty Scott: Outfielder Alfredo Silverio, who was a very good prospect for the Dodgers before a 2012 car accident that sidelined him two seasons, “will be the surprise of our organization. He made a play in the outfield that looked like Roberto Clemente. He will be something special.”
Silverio, 26, who’s playing for Double A Jacksonville, hit .306 with 42 doubles, 16 homers, 85 RBI and a remarkable 18 triples in Double A for the Dodgers in 2011.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz