A six pack of notes on a Wednesday night:
### Here's what Mel Kiper had to say when asked on a conference call today about the talent level at UM: “It’s not where it needs to be but it’s getting closer and closer. Depth wise is where they have to build that up. [Brad] Kaaya at quarterback, build around him.”…
Among UM's top draft prospects, Kiper said Ereck Flowers “has versatility [to play] left tackle or right tackle. I have him going in the first round. Maybe 19 to Cleveland… Duke Johnson is a heck of a player. He’s a second round talent who you may be able to get in the fourth round.”…. Kiper said Denzel Perryman is a second-round pick and Phillip Dorsett a second or third-rounder….
Kiper said he ranks Clive Walford "as the fourth tight end. Can stretch the middle of the field. Will play faster than he tests. Early to mid day three [pick]. He’ll make someone look good. He’ll make your team, be a No. 2 tight end, will contribute"…. He said Shane McDermott and Jon Feliciano will be late-rounders or priority free agents.
### For the third time in two weeks, the Dolphins declined to say if they want Mike Wallace back, and this marriage seems headed to divorce unless someone can knock some sense into Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey and convince them that subtracting one of their top players isn't going to help.
The Dolphins are closely studying receivers at the Senior Bowl this week; they met with UM’s Dorsett, among others.
There are three receivers projected to go in the 7 to 17 range. The one who will be most often linked to Miami as a possibility at No. 14 is West Virginia’s 6-3 Kevin White.
“He’s got the size,” Kiper said. “He’s going to high point the ball and go get it. He had a few drops. He had a great year. A little more consistency is needed. He’s the third best receiver in this draft, behind Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Louisville’s Devante Parker. I have him going 15th to San Francisco. Receiver is a very strong, very deep position.”
Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong could be the fourth-best receiver in this draft “depending on how he runs,” Kiper said. But No. 14 might be too high for him.
Among receivers in the next two tiers: Auburn’s Sammy Coates, Oklahoma’s Dorial Green-Beckham and Dorsett, among others.
### It wouldn’t have been possible for Hickey to be any more evasive when asked about Wallace today. Here were the four questions asked about Wallace and his answers. It’s almost painful to read Hickey’s non-answers and we apologize in advance because you will never get back the next 40 seconds of your life:
Dennis, were you disappointed with the Wallace situation? “I think we’re all frustrated with the way the season went. I think to a man, every person in the organization, whether it be from Mr. Ross to Coach Philbin to myself to the individual players, and the goal is to use that as motivation as we approach the offseason and to work together. All right, this is where we were, this is where we were 8-8. That’s the reality. Confronting the reality of where we were, OK, what do we have to do to get better and to take that next step as a team?”
Dennis, will what happened with Wallace at the end of the season play a factor in whether he returns? “We’re looking at all things with our players and evaluating, that’s part of our process. I always talk about the process and we try to look at it as systematic approach with different sections of the season and just taking and looking and that’s what we’re doing now. I know the coaches have gone back and looked through cutups and different analysis, whether it be in the passing game, the running game, individual players, groups of players, you know all those things and that’s what we’re looking at and that will guide the decisions upcoming.”
Does Wallace fit the team’s culture? “We look at all those things with our players and again it was a disappointing finish. There’s no sugar coating that, but you have to look at the season in totality, players in totality. We see, we evaluate players on a daily basis, every practice, every meeting, all those things. We are constantly looking at players and that’s what goes into looking at players in totality as we make decisions.”
When will there be a resolution with Wallace? “With all players that we’re working through, whether it be upcoming free agents, guys on the roster, those are the decisions that we’re making as we go through the process right now, both as a coaching staff and it’s something we do collaboratively. Personnel staff, we’ve been looking at it. Coaching staff’s been looking at it. We’re going together and that will guide our decisions upcoming.”
Yikes! Like banging your head against the wall trying to get answers.
Bottom line: Philbin likes conformists and has never shown any inclination to keep players he doesn’t know how to handle or control.
Does Wallace deserve blame for his behavior? Absolutely. But throwing him overboard, and creating yet another need on a team with at least a half-dozen of them, solves nothing. It means the Dolphins will again need to address receiver this offseason when they need to be concentrating on defensive tackle, cornerback, guard, linebacker and safety.
### We mentioned in this space on Sunday that the Dolphins conveyed to Billy Turner that they see him as a 2015 starter if he can seize the job. Today, Turner was one of a couple young players that Hickey brought up without prompting.
“We feel like Billy Turner really made a lot of strides at the end of the year,” Hickey said. “He had a setback with an injury late in training camp, late in preseason, that kind of set him back. But all of the things we liked about him, he’s definitely shown and you really saw a progression every day in practice. Just bringing a physical mentality, a toughness, punch, athleticism and we’re excited about what he’s going to bring to the table in 2015. We’re really pleased with his development and what it’s going to bring to the table.”
### Hickey on Damien Williams: “We liked what Damien brought to the table and the ability to play on all three downs and also contribute on special teams. Again, that’s a big part for young players, earning their playing time by contributing on teams.”
Hickey on Lamar Miller: “We’re really happy with Lamar’s season and how he progressed and how he grew and the production that he had. We definitely were pleased with the season that he had.”
### Hickey, asked if he can understand how some people may perceive Mike Tannenbaum’s hiring as a demotion for Hickey: “My role hasn’t changed. I’m still evaluating, I’m still putting together a 53-man roster and I am just excited about adding Mike to our team and working together with him because there is so much that he brings to the table. This is what I like to do. This is what I have grown up doing, the evaluating aspect and putting together a draft board and working on the problem solving of roster building and all those things. Mike brings a lot of experience with that, but he also brings a lot of experience to a lot of different aspects in an organization.”
### Therrell Gosier, a three-star receiver from Pompano Beach Blanche Ely, de-commited from UM, leaving the Hurricanes with two receivers orally committed: four-star Towson, Md.- based prospect Lawrence Cager and three-star Baton Rouge-based Terrell Chatman.
UM is also in the mix for Booker T. Washington’s four-star Antonio Callaway (see Manny Navarro’s blog for details on that.)
Gosier isn’t a big loss; he was considered a project.