8 p.m. update:
UM, trying to find an experienced transfer with size, hosted 6-8 power forward TaShawn Thomas on Wednesday, as ESPN first reported. Thomas would be a huge get if he picks UM.
He averaged 15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks last season and shot 59 percent from the field but just 59.5 percent from the line. Houston granted his release after a coaching change. He has one season of eligibility left.
He also plans to visit Oregon and Alabama.
UM is talented and deep at the wing positions but wants to add another big body, preferably one with college experience.
### UM will host Illinois on Dec. 2 in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. UM beat Illinois in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Snippets from NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock’s conference call today:
### On the Dolphins' first-round pick, he said there’s “no way in the world” Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin “gets close to 19.”
Mayock said “the last first-round tackle I’ve got is Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio. I’ve got him later in my board. He’s the guy they probably have to take at 19. They’ve got to make over that offensive line, and he would be the highest guy left.”
And if not, what else would Mayock consider at 19? “I think a receiver would pique my interest there. At that point, an Odell Beckham [LSU] or Brandin Cooks [Oregon State] you would have to look at those two players and say, 'Is he significantly more highly-rated than Kouandjio is?' And if so, you pull the trigger on a wideout.”
Two problems with Kouandjio: He reportedly has had issues with an arthritic knee condition. (He had a torn ACL and MCL in 2011.) And his play was uneven last season, including a poor performance in the Sugar Bowl.
NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki sums him up this way: “Inconsistent, overhyped left tackle whose sheer dimensions, raw tools and high ceiling are far more appealing than his snap-to-snap performance at this stage of his development.”
### Mayock said of the tackle class: "It's not as deep a tackle run as some people might have you believe. I have four guys in the [second/third round] and then there's a big drop: Joel Bitonio of Nevada, Morgan Moses of Virginia, Jack Mewhort from Ohio State and Ju'Wuan James from Tennessee, who I think is a starting right tackle. Those are the second day guys and then I think there's a significant dropoff."
The Dolphins have spent a lot of time with James and also like Bitonio.
"At first I didn’t like [Virginia’s] Morgan Moses because he’s got average feet," Mayock said. "But sometimes those long right tackles with average feet end up being pretty good players. He’s long, difficult to get around.
“I love Bitonio. Most teams assume he’s a guard. I watched him handle Anthony Barr of UCLA. I watched him against Florida State. I think he can start Day 1 at right tackle.”
Miami’s second round pick is 50th.
### Mayock said not only is Martin his No. 4 offensive tackle, but “he would be my No. 1 center or No. 1 guard. He will be the fourth offensive lineman off the board, somewhere between 9 and 13. He’s too good, too safe, and there are too many teams with offensive line needs. About as safe a player as there is in this draft.”
### On receivers: “Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are my first two. Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks the next two; they’ll be gone plus or minus 20. And Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee come into play after that.”
### He said Clemson receiver Martavis Bryant’s “physical skill set is so awe-inspiring he’s probably going to go in round two. He has some maturity issues that have to be addressed.” The Dolphins brought in Bryant for a visit.
“Paul Richardson from Colorado; he flies. [LSU’s] Jarvis Landry is one of my favorite players in the draft; not [very] fast but one of toughest players in this draft, a value in the third round.”
Mississippi's Donte Moncrief, who visited the Dolphins, "drops the ball too much" but "teams that focus on West Coast offenses make the most sense for him." (The Dolphins will have some West Coast elements.) Mayock calls Moncrief a third- or fourth-rounder.
### Forget getting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron at 19. Mayock expects him to be drafted between seventh and 13th.
### On Louisville and former Miami Northwestern star Teddy Bridgewater: “I’m struggling myself internally with Teddy Bridgewater, because I liked him on tape. Then I saw him throw live and I didn’t like it at all. I’ve talked to teams who are unnerved by that.
“Then I watched three or four more games, and it’s through a different prism of: I am questioning arm strength and accuracy. I saw him take three sacks consecutive against South Florida. He took three sacks I couldn’t stand. He’s a narrow-framed guy, didn’t think he was athletic. I don’t see an ‘it’ factor. I don’t know that he’s ready to be the guy. I’d be surprised if he goes in the first round.”
### Mayock has first-round grades on five cornerbacks: Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, Michigan State’s Marqueeze Denard, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and TCU’s Jason Verrett. “Verrett is special; the only knock is he’s 5-9.
### He has 10 quarterbacks with first, second and third-round grades --- his most ever. He has three first-rounders: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, UCF’s Blake Bortles and Fresno State’s Derek Carr.
### Please see Susan Miller Degnan's UM blog for Mayock's comments on several UM players, including Seantrel Henderson (whom he considers a fourth rounder).
### The Dolphins are spending the final week before the draft getting a final look at a few prospects that intrigue them.
According to a source, the Dolphins dispatched linebackers coach Mark Duffner to Louisville on Wednesday for a private workout with Preston Brown, a middle linebacker that has piqued their interest.
Brown was the Cardinals’ leading tackler for the second straight season, with 98 tackles (including 12 for loss), with a pass breakup, three forced fumbles and a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki (author of NFL Draft: 2014 Preview) calls him a third- or fourth-round pick and said he has “outstanding size, physical tackler, good instincts, delivers some pop on contact and strikes with force. Good football intelligence – makes the calls and lines up a defense. Average coverage instincts. Struggles to match up with athletic tight ends in man coverage…. Aggressive, high-collision ‘Mike’ linebacker best paired with a demanding position coach who will extract the most from him.”
UM REJECTS SHOWTIME
UM has declined an offer from Showtime to appear on a reality show modeled after HBO’s Hard Knocks, a UM official told me earlier today.
As TheBigLead.com reported Wednesday, Showtime was prepared to air about 13 episodes, chronicling the UM football program, every step of the way, from August through the end of the season.
“We talked to the production company off and on for the last two years,” a UM official said. “It was not the right time for us.”
UM rejected the offer earlier in April.
The school said The Big Lead inaccurately reported that UM has issues with the project’s production crew. UM said that was not the case.
This was simply a case of UM not being comfortable, at least for this season, with granting Showtime incredible access to detail whatever it wished about the Hurricanes football program.
As The Big Lead accurately reported, Ray Lewis would have been a producer on the project. His son plays on the team.
### With Houston staving off elimination against Portland tonight, nothing has changed regarding the Heat playoff schedule scenarios we reported Wednesday evening. Please see the last post for details.
### About 15 Heat employees, including Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra and Bob McAdoo, are expected to travel to Naples on Thursday morning to attend Jack Ramsay’s funeral.
Former coaches already in Naples for the funeral include Matt Guokas and Jim Lynam. (So is Jim O’Brien, Ramsay’s son-in-law.) Update: Others in attendance included Billy Cunningham, Hubie Brown and ESPN's Mike Breen.