3 p.m. Egnew news, reaction; Evaluators weigh in: Mixed reaction on Dolphins' veteran newcomers; UM, Heat, Marlins
3 p.m. update: So Michael Egnew is gone from the Dolphins, the latest third-round pick to flame out.
Here's what's odd about Egnew, who was released today to give him time to latch on with another team: Jeff Ireland drafted him believing he could run routes and catch passes downfield but not block especially well. He drafted him even though several Missouri tight ends since Kellen Winslow flopped in the NFL.
As it turned out, tight ends coach Dan Campbell said recently that Egnew's strength in the past year was blocking but that he needs to improve on running routes and helping in the passing game. So exactly the opposite of what Ireland thought he was drafting.
Here are the Dolphins' third round picks since the turn of the century:
2000: Ben Kelly
2001: Travis Minor and Morlon Greenwood
2002: Seth McKinney
2003: Wade Smith and Taylor Whitley
2005: Channing Crowder
2006: Derek Hagan
2007: Lorenzo Booker
2008: Kendall Langford
2009: Patrick Turner
2010: John Jerry
2012: Olivier Vernon (72nd) and Egnew (78th)
2013: Dallas Thomas and Will Davis
It's too soon to judge Thomas and Davis, but beyond them, there's not a single Pro Bowler in the group, though Vernon looks like he's going to be a very good player. Crowder was a solid linebacker before Ireland ditched him and Langford was an asset against the run before bolting to St. Louis, but none of the third-rounders (pre-Vernon) had LONG distinguished careers here. And so it goes...
Figure on the Dolphins looking closely for tight ends on the waiver wire. They need a third or fourth, depending on what role they give to rookie Arthur Lynch. Brett Brackett will get a long look. Charles Clay and Dion Sims are in line to be the No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends.
### The Dolphins also released cornerback Jalil Brown and defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds. Both were injured.
FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Dolphins fans get their most extensive look at Dennis Hickey’s free agent pickups on Saturday against Dallas, and there are still lots of unanswered questions about this group. Such as: Did Miami get productive starters in Shelley Smith or Daryn Colledge? Will Knowshon Moreno be more productive than Lamar Miller? Will Earl Mitchell be as disruptive as Paul Soliai?
ESPN pundit and former Colts GM Bill Polian, ESPN Scout Inc.’s Matt Williamson (a former Browns scout whose evaluations have been on-target over the years), NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and an NFC general manager who requested anonymity offered feedback on Hickey’s free agent moves, and we added our own early impressions:
### Moreno: The Dolphins clearly need someone who can push Lamar Miller, who averaged 4.0 yards last season but has just 14 yards on 7 carries in preseason. (The Dolphins want Miller to break more tackles.) But some evaluators aren’t convinced Moreno --- who’s back from June knee surgery --- is the answer.
“Solid contributor, but not a No. 1 back,” Polian said of Moreno. “Most of his success from 2013 was a function of [Denver’s] system. His acceleration to the hole is [not very good]. The rest of his game is good, he just doesn't hit the big plays you need from a No. 1 running back.” …
Williamson: “I’m less than impressed. He entered the league with a lot of fanfare and didn’t live up to that. He’s trying to transform himself into a hard charging tough guy who needs a lot of touches to succeed. But he benefited from a lot of light fronts with Denver.
"If they had six in the box, Peyton Manning would switch to a run and Moreno would run against that. He never had to run against stacked fronts. He’s a get- what’s-blocked type of back. I don’t think he’s the answer. I see a short-term fix. But he’s a big upgrade in pass protection and he’s better than Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, especially Thomas.”
### Smith: Was a disappointment early in camp and now has a chance to redeem himself if he can win the right guard job, where he’s still competing with Dallas Thomas.
Williamson: “I was very impressed what I saw in St. Louis. A better run blocker than in pass protection. Moves really well. Light on his feet. Starter caliber.”… The GM: “He could be your best run blocker. Over-aggressive at times in pass protection but not horrible in pass protection, either.”
### Colledge: His pass blocking has been very good but his run blocking has been subpar in preseason so far. Joe Philbin, who knows him well from Green Bay, declined to give him an endorsement this week, asserting the left guard job is still open even though Colledge continues to take the first-team snaps.
Williamson likes him: “Great fit in this up-tempo offense that stresses movement over power and size from offensive linemen. Upgrade for sure.”
### Cornerback Cortland Finnegan: Has had a strong camp, fully meeting Miami’s expectations so far. The GM: “He brings a physical element to your team. He’s tough and gives you position versatility because he can play the slot and outside. Not everyone can do that. We were looking at him in free agency. As long as he’s not a knucklehead, he’s a good value contract.”…
Polian: “He loves to mix things up as an edge-setter and gets under the skin of opposing wide receivers, but his style of play lends itself to poor technique. He struggled against double-moves during the 2013 season.”...
Williamson: “He played poorly for the Rams. But I looked at it like the Saints signing Champ Bailey. He might be a leader in the cornerback meeting room, a good influence behind the scenes and a stopgap player. Maybe he goes back to where he was a couple years ago. He plays with an edge but gets beat too often. Feisty. Better in the slot.”…
Collinsworth: “He didn't have a good year last year but I will tell you what he is: He's tough and physical. At practice, he is a borderline jerk. But he brings an intensity.
“And he hits his own guys. You can't be lackadaisical when he's on the field. Those are the guys you used to hate to practice against, but you were glad they were with you on Sunday.
“If I had to say of all the guys in the league of what I'm trying to describe - and it's a compliment – he would be one of those guys that you want on your team to stir the pot every day. Richard Sherman and Brandon Spikes stir the pot every day. Those guys are hard to find and you want them on your team.”
### Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell: Early signs are encouraging; teammates praise his motor, and he will play a lot in a three-tackle rotation.
Polian loves him: “Mitchell has become a real inside force and one of the most productive penetrators in the NFL at generating consistent inside pressure. He is a much better athlete than most guys who play his position, and his effort is outstanding. Good quickness and really works to finish the play. He is young and will only get better.”…
Williamson: “He and Soliai [now with Atlanta] are very different players. Soliai is a big run stuffer who demands a double team. Mitchell is much more of a penetrator. Mitchell is the better player, more upside.”…
### Safety Louis Delmas: Has looked decent so far but missed a tackle in Saturday night’s game at Tampa. An upgrade over Chris Clemons as a play-maker but also vulnerable to being burned occasionally. Most importantly, his knees have held up.
Williamson: “Delmas makes a lot of big plays. He will show up on SportsCenter a heck of a lot more than Clemons but is a little more inconsistent. Injuries are the big issue. He’s reckless with his body in some ways.”… Polian: “Really good player who has been hampered greatly by injury."
### Left tackle Branden Albert: Been solid so far but the run-blocking needs to improve.
“Below elite but one of the top 10 tackles in the league and worth the money at very much a need position,” Williamson said… The GM: “He thinks he’s elite, but he’s not. But a good player. Pass blocking is his strength, and he has good feet. Durability is a question.”…
Polian: “He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Has an elite skill set, but he doesn't always seem to play up to those skills.”… Collinsworth: “Brandon is getting paid to be Anthony Munoz. He's very good. Is he Anthony Munoz? No, but I don't think anybody is. He gives them that guy where maybe we don't have to be great at guard.”
### As far as veteran free agent pickups trying to make the team: Not much support for Brady Quinn, who appears unlikely to make it. As Williamson says: “Certainly a step down from Matt Moore.”… Former Titans receiver Damian Williams: “If you’re the fifth receiver on game day, you better be a solid special teams contributor and I don’t think he is,” Williamson said. He has had a good camp but has done nothing to win the punt return job and it's difficult to see him sticking barring an injury or trade in the next two weeks.
Jason Fox: “LaAdrian Waddle, an undrafted free agent, went right past him in Detroit,” Williamson said. “He’s not the pass protector you want on the left side, not the mauler you want on the right side. Not terrible in any area, but not a standout in any. I thought he would be better coming out of college.” The belief here is that the last offensive line job could come down to Fox or Sam Brenner.
### Please check the last post, from Thursday evening, for more Dolphins tidbits, including two of Jeff Ireland's picks trying to stick around.
### There will be subtle changes in UM’s offense: Expect a more controlled passing game (bubble screens, short and intermediate routes) with fewer deep balls. UM will still try to go deep selectively but likely not as much as Stephen Morris did.
### UM loves what freshman running back Joe Yearby is going to add, and coordinator James Coley said there’s a package with both Yearby and Duke Johnson playing together (with one lining up at receiver).
### Freshman quarterback Malik Rosier, who played in the shotgun in high school and has mishandled some snaps under center during practice, hopes UM creates a special package for him, but Coley said that’s undecided.
“I really believe he’s more than a Wildcat quarterback,” Coley said. Rosier plans to play baseball at UM, too.
### Rashard Lewis, whose Dallas contract was voided because of knee surgery, conveyed to the Heat that he would love to return here, but Miami already signed Shawne Williams for that role (backup stretch power forward). Williams essentially has had only one good season (2010-11 with the Knicks) but performed well in offseason workouts.
### Scouts are raving about Christian Yelich, who is hitting .323 since the All-Star break and ranks fourth among all qualifying MLB left fielders in average (.288). He has become so popular among Marlins
fans that not only is he getting dozens of letters a week, but a couple people drew and sent him portraits of himself.
Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Please see the last post for a few UM and broadcast items.