4 p.m. update: Fins bring in more players; Examining Dolphins' options at No. 19 in draft; Heat playoff chatter, Marlins
A quick 4 p.m. update:
### North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner, an under-the-radar offensive lineman who really intrigues the Dolphins, has been summoned to team headquarters today, and part of Thursday, to meet with Dolphins coaches and front office officials, according to a source.
Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens also has been called to Dolphins offices.
They are the 17th and 18th players we've confirmed have been invited to visit the Dolphins; teams are allowed to bring in no more than 30 non-local players, plus an unlimited number of players who went to college or high school locally.
Turner "has a chance to be a nice fourth-round pick," Mel Kiper said today.
Said NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki: "Big-framed, raw, aggressive FCS standout who flashes a nice combination of foot quickness, punch strength and nastiness," Nawrocki said. "Smart, hard working, dependable."
It would not be surprising if the Dolphins draft two tackles.
As for Aikens, he wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, but has visits with 10 teams. CBS' Rob Rang said he "has the aggression and athleticism are there to project him as a legitimate rotational player early in his career with the possibility of developing into a starter as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL."
### Erik Spoelstra said Mario Chalmers (bruised shin) is a game-time decision tonight.
### Charlotte center Al Jefferson was still in a walking boot this morning with a plantar fascia strain but said he will play. "I can't say there won't be any kind of pain, but I feel like every hour it's getting better and better."
Said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford: "If he can be effective, we'll play him. If not, we'll get him out."
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
An offensive tackle naturally would make sense for the Dolphins with the 19th pick in the May 8-10 NFL Draft. But what should Miami do if Notre Dame’s Zack Martin is off the board at that point (ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him going a bit earlier), and if none of the top three tackles (including Michigan’s Taylor Lewan) surprisingly falls to 19?
Barring a trade, using the pick on another position is a decent possibility considering Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey insists he likes to select the best player available. Predecessor Jeff Ireland preferred to factor in need in his evaluation.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said teams can procure quality tackles in the second or third rounds in this draft, with Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James a potentially solid option for Miami at No. 50.
The Dolphins have told people they like Martin. Whether another tackle beyond the draft’s top four (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Lewan and Martin) is worthy of the 19th pick is highly questionable.
McShay advocates Miami picking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses at 19, noting “he possesses excellent size and length and played his best against his best individual competition.”
Mayock projects him as a possible late first-rounder and said: "The more tape I watched, the more he grew on me. His Clemson tape, he had two or three plays where he literally locked on a linebacker or a defensive end and drove him over the sideline and into the bench. He looked like Michel Oher in that movie (The Blind Side) when he almost took him across the gate. He’s got some toughness. His feet were better than I thought they were going to be. I think he’s a starting right tackle in the NFL.”
But Kiper doesn’t envision him going as high as Miami’s pick and slots him 28th in his mock draft.
Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, originally forecast for Miami’s range, is slotted 34th by McShay and 55th by Kiper in their respective mocks. Kiper says “health questions and consistency issues during his junior season caused his stock to take a hit.”
So what if an offensive tackle isn’t the pick at No. 19? Other possibilities:
###Linebacker: Alabama inside linebacker CJ Mosley (106 tackles last season) would be appealing. Draft analyst Tony Pauline said Mosley won’t be available at 19, but Kiper believes otherwise (at the moment) and predicts Miami will take him in his newest mock draft.
“Brings great instincts and effectiveness against the run,” Kiper said. “He is the best coverage linebacker in the draft. If he stays healthy, Mosley is a special player. The guy doesn’t need to come off the field [on third down]. A gifted player in coverage.”
McShay said Mosley’s past shoulder, hip and elbow injuries raise durability concerns but still has him going 13th.
Two other options: Ohio State inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (Kiper slots him 21st and cites his “great instincts and range”) and UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr (10 sacks in 2013). “At one time, I thought he would be a top 10 pick, but if Barr is more consistent and improves on his awareness, he could be a steal,” said Kiper, who slots him 25th.
### Receiver: The fact the Dolphins have used at least four of their visits on first- and second-round receivers suggests they’re at least considering this.
LSU’s Odell Beckham and USC’s Marqise Lee, who both visited team headquarters, are possibilities at 19; Kiper has Beckham 15th and Lee 23rd.
So are Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (“no player was a tougher cover in college football last year,” said Kiper, who has him going 18th) and FSU’s 6-5 Kelvin Benjamin (22nd). The Dolphins also brought in potential second-rounders Donte Moncrief (Mississippi) and Martavis Bryant (Clemson).
### Defensive tackle: Don’t rule out Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, whom Kiper slots 14th and calls “the most disruptive defensive player in the nation last year.” He had 11 sacks and 28 tackles for loss in 2013.
At one point, FSU’s Tim Jernigan and Notre Dame’s Louis Nix were universally thought to be in Miami’s range. Kiper has neither rated as a first-rounder, but McShay has Jernigan 16th and Nix 29th.
Jernigan “is not a blow-by rusher but has the strength and quick feet to eat up a running play before it goes anywhere,” Kiper said, adding he would be a natural fit in a 4-3 defense like Miami’s.
### Defensive back: Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Michigan State cornerback Darqueeze Dennard are expected to go higher than 19th and Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller a bit lower, though both are options at 19.
Kiper slots Roby 24th and said he “can be a special player with elite speed and change of direction quickness.” He has Fuller 26th.
Louisville safety Calvin Pryor is slotted 17th in Kiper’s mock, but safety isn’t a big Dolphins need. “A player who can cover and deliver hits with authority,” Kiper said of Pryor, who is projected to be the second safety drafted after Alabama’s Ha-Ha Clinton Dix.
### Tight end: It’s difficult to envision North Carolina’s Eric Ebron falling to 19th. Kiper has him going 12th. “Ebron is the kind of new-breed tight end who can be split out, line up in the slot [and] becomes a constant matchup threat,” Kiper said. Sporting News analyst Russ Lande said Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is worth considering at 19, but Kiper has him going 53rd.
No guard or running back is projected in the range of 19th overall, though some give a first-round grade to UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo.
### Add San Diego State safety Eric Pinkins and Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the list of players invited to visit Dolphins headquarters. (Please see the last post for a complete list of confirmed visits, plus other Dolphins and NFL notes)... Also, add North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen to the list of quarterbacks who have been called multiple times by Miami. Jensen, likely to go undrafted, was 47-5 as a starter and led North Dakota State to a third consecutive national championship.
### Not only has James Jones shot an absurd 19 for 37 on three-pointers since Erik Spoelstra took him out of mothballs on March 28 (his first appearance since mid-January), but consider this: Miami has outscored teams by 84 points (22.4 per 48 minutes) during the 180 minutes he has logged since then.
Miami was plus-18 in his 14 minutes in Game 1 against Charlotte.
How does Jones stay ready? Lifting weights, doing sprint work and making at least 100 three-pointers on practice days and 70 threes during shooting sessions on game-days. He made 36 threes in a row during one practice this season.
### Shane Battier, on falling out of the rotation for now: “In the twilight of my career, it’s a new experience I didn’t think I’d have at this point. I would be extremely selfish to cry, ‘It’s not fair!’”
Battier said he has expressed his desire to play in conversations with Spoelstra when he has fallen out of the rotation in the past, but not this time, and “I don’t know how effective that is.”
Speaking in general, Spoelstra indicated Tuesday that he hears often from Heat players who want to play more.
He said he would understand if some of his players not getting a lot of minutes “see me in a dark alley and want to do bodily harm to me. You want guys seething. I have no problem with the emotion that comes with it.”
### Jacob Turner better pitch well when he returns to the Marlins rotation sometime in May, because prized prospect Andrew Heaney continues to pitch brilliantly at Double A (one run allowed, 22 strikeouts, over his past three starts).
### With Jose Fernandez shutting down Atlanta tonight, the Marlins and Braves combined for 28 strikeouts and no walks. According to Elias, that's the most Ks without a walk in a game since 1900.