Heat-Nets postscripts; Many Dolphins and UM player FA signings; Analysts assess Dolphins' third-day draft picks; Postdraft thoughts
Please scroll to the bottom for Heat-Nets postscripts and reaction from tonight:
10 p.m. update: The Dolphins didn't draft a running back but they added an interesting prospect at the position moments ago when they signed former Oklahoma tailback Damien Williams.
Williams ran for 946 yards (5.4 per carry) and 11 touchdowns as a junior, then ran for 553 (4.9 per carry) and seven TDs last season before being tossed from the Sooners team in late November because of multiple violations of team rules. He's fast and has good receiving skills.
Williams, 5-9, was pursued by seven teams after the draft. He will compete with Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gilislee for the third and fourth running back jobs behind Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller.
Here's a running list of other undrafted free agents that are signing with the Dolphins or are getting tryouts with the Dolphins at rookie minicamp:
(I've confirmed some; others have been reported by their schools, agents, etc.):
UM DE Shayon Green
Illinois WR Ryan Lankford
USC S Demetrius Wright Jr.
LSU DT Anthony Johnson (once considered a second- or third-round prospect but reportedly had a positive drug test at NFL Combine)
Arkansas OT David Hurd
New Mexico State G Davonte Wallace
North Dakota State QB Brock Jensen
Utah State C Tyler Larsen
Virginia Tech LB Tariq Edwards
USF DL Tevin Mims
Georgia WR Rantavious Wooten
Georgia DT Garrison Smith
Marshall TE/FB Gator Hoskins
Texas A&M TE Nehemiah Hicks (confirmed he has a minicamp invitation)
Arizona State All-Pac 12 OL Evan Finkenberg (can play guard and tackle)
Oklahoma RB Damien Williams
### Hurricanes signings, beyond Green: Asante Cleveland and AJ Highsmith with the 49ers; Stephen Morris and Allen Hurns with Jacksonville; Maurice Hagens with Atlanta; Jared Wheeler with Carolina; Kacy Rodgers with Kansas City; Justin Renfrow with Arizona; and Jimmy Gaines with Buffalo. Also, Curtis Porter will attend Oakland's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
The Canes who were drafted: Brandon Linder (Jacksonville), Pat O'Donnell (Chicago), Seantrel Henderson (Buffalo).
### UM basketball player Erik Swoope, who auditioned for the Dolphins, said he's joining the Indianapolis Colts, likely as a tight end or receiver.
Some notes and feedback from analysts on the Dolphins' third-day picks today:
### Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens: The first player taken in this draft who wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, Aikens will challenge Will Davis for the No. 4 cornerback job.... Has seven career picks in three seasons... Was tossed off the Illinois team, and served a 14-day jail sentence, for being found with a stolen computer. (Aikens explained today that he didn't know it was stolen property when he purchased it.)
ESPN's Todd McShay: “He was really impressive at the Senior Bowl. One of the more underrated cornerbacks in this draft. Doesn’t have exceptional speed but has good speed. Runs a 4.49 in the 40. Ball skills are average, not exceptional. I think he will pan out because he’s driven, intelligent and has good instincts.”…
ESPN's Mel Kiper: “Aikens really benefited from Senior Bowl. He didn’t look like a fish out of water.”…
Draft analyst Tony Pauline sees him as nothing more than an eighth defensive back/special teams player because he “lacks deep speed and struggles staying with receivers down the field.” But “he quickly locates the pass in the air and is a hard hitter.”
### Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch: Will challenge Michael Egnew for the No. 3 job (some Dolphins staffers aren’t high on Egnew) and could push backup Dion Sims. Caught 30 passes for 459 yards and five touchdowns last season.
“Should become a good blocker,” NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. “Short and intermediate catcher. Not a deep threat. Very solid player.”…. Stanford coach David Shaw, working for NFL Network this weekend, said of Lynch: “What he does is not exciting, but effective, to be an in-line blocker. This guy could be a force in the NFL.”…
Pauline said he “lacks the speed to be a true No. 1 tight end” but is a “strong run blocker” and should be a No. 2 tight end long-term….
But NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki said even though he’s “tough and durable, he “lacks special traits for the NFL game. Cannot separate. Too many drops. Not ready to match physically 1-on-1 with NFL defensive ends. Thinks he’s better than he is. Will have to dedicate himself as a blocker to have a chance to stick as a No. 3.”
### Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp: Can play inside or outside... Last season, had 100 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, two pass breakups, forced fumble, blocked kick and fumble recovery touchdown...
ESPN’s Bill Polian: “Outstanding player. Distinguished himself at Senior Bowl. He’s got toughness, acceleration, a nose for the football. Looks like Jordan Senn, who was outstanding special teams linebacker for us and the Colts.”… Jeremiah: “Fun to watch. He can really run sideline to sideline. Has some quickness to get upfield.”
Pauline said he “plays with a nasty attitude, effectively collapses to the outside defending the run, and is liked in the scouting community.” But... he “shows a lot of limitations, display average quickness and speed. Occasionally too aggressive and takes himself from the action. Marginal skill in coverage situations and struggles downfield with running backs.”
Nawrocki said he “diagnoses quickly. Outstanding motor, intensity, effort but plays a bit too out of control. A tough overachiever capable of earning a job as a backup linebacker and special teams performer.”
### Coastal Carolina receiver Matt Hazel: Will be competing with Rishard Matthews, Armon Binns and Damian Williams for the fifth receiver job. Could end up on the practice squad.... Had 70 catches for 990 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Kiper: “Love the way he tracks the ball. Made some tough catches. Good hands. Decent speed, not a burner. He will make Miami’s team. When I brought up to teams non 1-A players that have a chance, he was one of the ones immediately mentioned.”
Pauline said he “has the skills necessary to line up as a fifth receiver in a West Coast or timing offense. Quick, fluid receiver with reliable hands.” But “displays marginal speed. Lacks great size, not a field stretcher.”…
### Marist defensive end Terrence Fede: Three-year starter who was All-American (at his level) last season. Had 59 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 13 sacks as a senior.... "He's got some power," McShay said.
Pauline said he's a "well sized defensive end who flashed dominance on the small school level. Consistently behind the line of scrimmage disrupting the action. Plays with a vicious attitude."
Negatives? "Plays tall with limited leverage and makes himself an easy target for blockers." Pauline's bottom line: "A small school prospect with terrific size/speed numbers, Fede comes with a good degree of upside and is worth consideration on a practice squad this fall."
### I still have concerns at cornerback (everyone outside Brent Grimes is either coming off an injury or a down year or unproven) but to me, this is what the Dolphins might most regret: Not doing anything to seriously upgrade at linebacker, beyond being outbid for veteran D’Qwell Jackson in February.
Among 132 qualifying linebackers evaluated by Pro Football Focus last season, Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe –-- both due big guaranteed money in 2014 --– ranked in the bottom five against the run.
“You’re stuck with Wheeler, and you worry about that group against the run,” ESPN.com Scouts Inc. analyst and former Browns scout Matt Williamson said. “Moving Koa Misi to the middle reeks of desperation. He was drafted to be an outside rusher.”
### Turns out, it was telling when Joe Philbin said in late March that "there's room to develop more consistency and detail out of" Matthews, who's now very much at risk. FYI: He has a $583,403 cap hit if he's on the team, $26,806 if he's cut.
It's worth noting that Matthews caught 66.1 percent of the passes thrown to him last season, better than Brian Hartline (59.8) and Mike Wallace (53.3). Of course, the number of errant deep balls thrown to Wallace dragged down that number.
### Charles Clay remains the Dolphins' only established, legit stretch-the-field tight end. (Egnew was supposed to be that, out of Missouri, but hasn't been used that way.) A second one would be helpful.
### When I wrote in this space in recent weeks about the Dolphins' interest in Billy Turner, Aikens, Tripp and Fede and about Hickey's interest in small-school players, I never would have expected them to select more small school players (five) than big ones (three).
The last time Miami drafted that many small-school prospects? 1982, when Miami plucked Mark Duper and four others few remember: Rich Diana, Thomas Tutson, Larry Cowan and Mack Boatner.
A few items from tonight's 104-90 Nets win that left the Heat ahead, 2-1, in this Eastern Conference semifinal series:
### The Nets shot 52.8 percent overall and finished an absurd 15 for 25 on three-pointers, with Mirza Teletovic (18 points) shooting 4 for 7 from beyond the arc, Joe Johnson (19 points) hitting 5 of 7 treys, and Paul Pierce (14 points) shooting 2 for 2 on threes.
Was it merely a case of the Nets getting hot or the Heat playing leaky defense? Spoelstra attributed it to both. (LeBron James indicated Miami's defensive scheme led to some of the Nets' threes.)
According to ESPN, the Nets had 10 uncontested jump shots and made eight of them.
"They got virtually everything [they wanted]," Spoelstra said. "They got into a great rhythm. Even their inside-the-three shots were open. Teams can be dangerous when you give them a lot of rhythm. To sum it up, they outplayed us the whole second half. We have to learn from this and approach Game 4 differently."
### The Heat's perimeter defense wasn't Miami's only deficiency. The Heat was crushed on the boards, 43-27. Miami shot 45.6 percent --- nearly five percentage points below its season average --- and had 13 assists compared with 10 turnovers. "Thirteen assists will not get it done," Spoelstra said. Miami shot 8 for 24 on threes.
### The Heat had no answer for Andray Blatche, who produced 15 points and 10 boards in 20 minutes. Kevin Garnett delivered his best game of the series (10 points, seven boards). The Heat offered little in the interior, with just 26 paint points and deliquent work on the boards.
### LeBron James scored 16 of the Heat's 30 first-quarter points, but just 12 the rest of the way to close with 28. Seven of his 15 attempts were three-point attempts, and that's too many.
Chris Bosh scored 8 in the first quarter but just four the rest of the game, missing six of his last seven shots. Dwyane Wade had 20.
### Reaction from the Big Three: James: "Third quarter was the deciding factor [Miami was outscored 26-14 in the third]. We allowed them to get whatever they wanted.... I don't think there was enough sense of urgency defensively."
Wade: "The third quarter was an awful quarter for us. We've got to play better."...
Bosh: "Tonight we didn't have that desperation. It's tough to make up. But a loss will do that."
### James Jones, inserted in garbage time, made a strong case to be reinserted in the rotation, shooting 3 for 3 on threes. Jones has had an exceptional plus/minus since Erik Spoelstra started using him more over the past month, but he's out of the rotation in this series, largely for defensive reasons. Perhaps Spoelstra should rethink that.
### The NBA said Game 5 in Miami next Wednesday will be 8 p.m. if the Spurs sweep the Blazers, 7 p.m. otherwise.