Noon Fri. update; Reaction, analysis of Dolphins draft pick Ja'Wuan James; Sapp rips Pouncey; Dolphins, Heat, Marlins chatter
A quick Friday noon ratings update, since some of you have asked me about this:
In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, 16.7 percent of homes with TV sets were tuned to Game 2 of the Heat-Nets series on ESPN2 on Thursday, compared with 4.4 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale market homes watching the NFL Draft on ESPN. NFL Net says 1.9 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets watched the draft on their air.
So the final local count was a 16.7 rating for the Heat and a 6.3 for the NFL draft (combined ESPN, NFL Net ratings).
Nationally, the draft trounced the Heat game. Nationally, the draft had a 6.8 overnight rating on ESPN and a 1.9 on NFL Net, compared with a 2.6 for Heat-Nets. Overnight ratings represent the average of 56 major markets. ESPN's draft rating was its highest ever for a first-round, 48 percent over last year's.
FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The Dolphins had first-round grades on five offensive tackles, and Ja’Wuan James was the fifth. Glad we were the first to report of the Dolphins' interest in James, and his invitation to visit team headquarters, in this space a month ago.
Some feedback on the player and the pick:
### ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “They forced a need and took a guy who’s a good player. Started all 49 games of his college career at right tackle. I was impressed with the way he played all year. Consistency game to game was excellent. Plays stronger and tougher than his [poor] 22 reps in the bench press” suggest.
### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock rated him 60th on his Big Board but didn’t accuse the Dolphins of reaching: “The more tape I watch, the more I like him. He started off in a lot of peoples’ minds as a third- or fourth-round pick, became a solid second-round consideration. Right tackle, can play right guard [too]. Either way, day one, he will be a starter.”
### ESPN’s Todd McShay: Rated him only the 55th-best prospect in the draft, said he “needs some refining of his technique.”
### ESPN’s Jon Gruden: “This is a dire, desperate situation for Miami. I’m sure they would like to have had one of those frontline tackles. His size and experience will serve him well in Miami.”
### NFLDraftScout.com’s Frank Cooney: “James has the mentality and physicality to step in and perform immediately. He was impressive at the Senior Bowl before spraining his knee, but was fine at his April Pro Day.”
### Draftinsider.net’s Tony Pauline projected him as only a middle round pick because of “limited upside. Lacks fluid footwork in pass protection. Lumbers around the field and is ineffective blocking in motion. Lacks range and falls off blocks.”
### NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki: “Outstanding size. Can steer and control blockers. Matches up very well vs. size and power. Very smart, mature and highly respected.” The bad news? “Struggles to cut off and adjust to moving targets. Does not roll off the ball with power and generate strength or movement in the run game.”
### An unnamed NFL scout in the NFL Draft 2014 review: “I thought he was hands-down the best offensive linemen of any in the Southeast. The issue for me is the strength and power he can generate.”
MORE DOLPHINS CHATTER
### The Dolphins also ideally would like to add a starting-caliber guard and have either spent extra time with, or expressed interest, in Stanford’s David Yankey, LSU’s Trai Turner, UCLA’s Xavier Su’a Fila, Clemson’s Brandon Thomas (has a knee injury), USC's Marcus Martin, Nebraska’s Spencer Long, Georgia State’s Ulrick John and guard/tackles Joel Bitonio (Nevada), Billy Turner (North Dakota State) and Michael Schofield (Michigan) and UF’s Jon Halapio, among others.
Some chatter at some other positions:
### Cornerback: They also want to add one or two to challenge Will Davis (No. 4 on the depth chart) and to provide depth, with Rice’s Phillip Gaines, Liberty’s Walt Aikens, Middle Tennessee State’s Sammy Seamster and Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson among those summoned to Davie.
### Tight end: There are some doubts on the staff about Michael Egnew, and a tight end or two will be added during or after the draft. Dolphins officials have spent extra time with Washington’s Austin Seferian Jenkins, Bowling Green’s Alex Bayer, Cincinnati’s Blake Annen and Monmouth’s Michael McLafferty.
### Quarterback: The Dolphins will look at adding one during or after the draft to challenge Pat Devlin. They’ve spent extra time with UM’s Stephen Morris, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray and reached out to lesser prospects: Wake Forest’s Tanner Price, Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay, North Colorado’s Seth Lobata and North Dakota State’s Brock Jensen…. Worth noting: Bears general manager Phil Emery recently questioned the theory of developing late-round picks at the position, noting there isn’t a single long-term starting quarterback drafted after the third round since 2006 (though Tom Brady was a sixth-rounder in 1999).
### Defensive end: Though it’s a position of strength, they’re eyeing under-the-radar prospects. Among them: Marist’s Terence Fede, Hawaii’s Tavita Woodard and Concordia-St. Paul’s Zach Moore.
### Receiver: The Dolphins are looking for someone who can compete with Armon Binns and Damian Williams for the fifth spot initially. They’ve spent extra time with Wyoming’s Robert Herron, Clemson’s Martavis Bryant, Rutgers’ Quron Pratt, LSU's Jarvis Landry, Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief and Virginia Tech’s DJ Coles, among others.
### Linebacker: They spent a lot of extra time with Louisville’s Preston Brown and Arizona State’s Marquis Flowers and called about Montana’s Jordan Tripp.
### Safety: They’re looking for depth and a special teams demon who can challenge Don Jones and Jordan Kovacs for a roster spot. The Dolphins privately gave good feedback after workouts to three
potential undrafted free agent safeties who grew up here: Booker T. Washington’s David Van Dyke (Tennessee State), Doral Academy’s George Callender (New Mexico State) and Gulliver Prep’s Frank Crawford (UNLV)…. They also spent extra time with California (Penn.) safety Dewey McDonald, Rutgers’ Jeremy Deering and San Diego State’s Eric Pinkins.
### Despite the fact there was criticism of Dolphins veterans for forcing rookies to pay for a meal for them last season, Mike Pouncey tweeted tonight after the James selection: "Great pick! I can't wait for our gifts he's getting us. LOL."
Warren Sapp responded to Pouncey's tweet: "Some folks been dumb a long time."
### The buzz around teammates is that Mario Chalmers will be coveting a big pay day this summer (with a raise from $4 million annually), and Game 2 can go on the resume: two clutch threes in the fourth, a game-best plus-17 plus/minus and stout defense on Deron Williams, who had his first career scoreless playoff game. What's more, the Nets were outscored by a team-worst 18 points with Williams on the court.
### Nets swingman Joe Johnson amused me Wednesday with this: “Outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, we’re more talented than them.” (And outside of the beach and culture, there’s more to do in Scranton than Miami.)
### Wade said Wednesday he’s in a “good situation” to be able to opt-in for $41 million over the next two seasons or opt out for a longer contract (assuredly at less money). He said he’s not leaning either way and won’t decide until after the season.
### Ray Allen is now 11 for 18 in this series after shooting 6 for 28 against the Nets during the regular season. What's more, he had eight rebounds tonight --- one off a season high…. Teams up 2-0 in a best-of-seven have won 94 percent of those series. LeBron James is 12-0 in such situations in his career.
### Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said he’s seeing more hittable pitches, and Mets starter Dillon Gee noted: “It’s more difficult to pitch around Stanton now. When you have a guy swing as hot as Casey McGehee is behind him, you have to go after everyone now. They get clutch hits. And Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a huge pickup. You can see his leadership.”…
FYI: Stanton's two-run homer in the 11th inning (his 11th of the year) gave the Marlins a 3-1 win in San Diego at 1:30 a.m. tonight --- Miami's ninth win in its last 10 games. The Marlins won despite striking out 17 times.
### You wouldn’t believe some of the questions that teams ask draft prospects. “One team asked me my favorite super hero,” UM receiver Allen Hurns said. “That shocked me. It was funny as hell.”