Dolphins make receiver a priority, bring in draft prospects; Heat nuggets: Dragic, Wade, Whiteside; Marlins disaster
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The question isn’t whether the Dolphins will acquire a receiver during the draft, but how soon. There’s no bigger priority, with only three established receivers on the roster and very little left in free agency beyond Greg Jennings (who has visited the Dolphins, Carolina, Jacksonville and New Orleans) and Wes Welker.
The Dolphins are considering at least two receivers with their first-round pick: Louisville’s DeVante Parker (who many believe will be gone by No. 14) and Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman.
Another, Southern California’s Nelson Agholor, would be a wise use of the 14th pick, ESPN’s Mel Kiper insists, even though many project him going lower. And the Dolphins have brought in three receivers potentially in play with the 47th pick, should they use the 14th pick on another position. Exploring the possibilities:
### First-round options: Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White are projected by many to be gone before Miami’s first pick, but the Dolphins summoned Parker and Perriman for visits. Kiper has all four coming off the board before Miami selects 14th, with Perriman 10th and Parker 12th.
Parker, who averaged 19.9 yards per catch last season, “has as high a ceiling as you can find in this class and it wouldn't surprise me if someday we're talking about him as the best of the top three guys in this class; I have them closely grouped,” Kiper said on espn.com.
“Parker will beat defenders to the ball on high-point catches with his size, leaping ability and catch radius, and he's underrated as a threat to add yards after the catch on short throws. I can see Miami going a few different ways [at 14], but Parker makes sense because the Dolphins need to keep options available for Ryan Tannehill. He could go anywhere from 10 to 15.”
ESPN's Mark Dominik, the former Tampa Bay GM, is among those who believe Parker will remain available into the teens.
Meanwhile, Perriman (50 catches, 1044 yards, 9 TDs last season) has risen after running a 4.25 in the 40-yard dash at UCF’s pro day.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Dolphins drafting Perriman because they “could use him to replace Mike Wallace as its deep threat opposite Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron.”
Though he has had some drops, his athletic traits have been compared to Dez Bryant’s, and “his ball skills, which were something of a concern on his early-season tape, appeared to get better as the year wore on,” McShay said. “His performance in UCF's bowl game against N.C.State was the best we've seen from him in terms of catching the ball.”
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Perriman or Parker would make a lot of sense for Miami at 14, if either is there.
What about White? Probably out of reach for Miami. Kiper has him going seventh –-- three spots after Cooper --- and “the fact that he only had one really good season at West Virginia will concern some,” Kiper said. “But he's a big-play threat with his size and speed.”
Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong is considered a mid- to late first-rounder and could be an option if Miami trades down in the first round. NFL.com says Strong needs wrist surgery, which he denies, and that could hurt his stock.
Meanwhile, Agholor (104 receptions, 1313 yards, 12 touchdowns last season) has become a real wild card, his stock having risen considerably. He could go anywhere between the mid-teens and Miami’s pick at 47.
He’s “a very good route runner, has good hands, and is quietly an explosive athlete who can set up defenders and create space underneath or beat defenses over the top,” Kiper said.
Some view Michigan tight end/receiver Devin Funchess as a late-first round possibility, too.
### Second round (Miami selects 47th): Kiper says Auburn’s Sammy Coates, Ohio State’s Devin Smith and UM’s Phillip Dorsett are all worthy of being drafted in the second round. The Dolphins have brought all three in for visits.
With Coates, “the drops are a concern,” Kiper said. “If the concentration level improves, he's got the frame, the physical qualifications to be a first-round pick. I think he'll go second or third round. Somebody will roll the dice that he will be consistent enough.
“He's a threat down the field. In this pass-happy league, when you are as talented and big as he is he is, 6-1, 215 pounds, runs 4.4, vertical 41, that's enough to make you second- or third-round pick guaranteed.”
Kiper calls Dorsett one of the safest picks in the draft who “has speed to simply blow away cornerbacks who don't have plus-plus recovery speed. He also has the quickness to win in the slot and do major damage against zone coverages.
“He lacks size but does a decent job on contested throws and has gotten a lot more consistent with his hands. I think he's safe because he's so much more than a sprinter, and he'll be a handful to cover wherever he is lined up.”
Dorsett said: “If I’m there [at 47], I hope [the Dolphins] take me because they’re not going to at 14. I was a Dolphins fan growing up. Playing for the Dolphins would be a dream come true.”
As for the 6-0 Smith, Kiper said he has “a good size/speed combination and one of the better deep threats in college football, a guy fully capable of making contested catches down the field.”
He averaged a ridiculous 28.2 yards per catch last season (33 for 931).
Two other potential second-rounders: Dorial Green-Beckham (dismissed from Missouri after two drug arrests and a domestic violence allegation) and FSU’s Reshad Greene.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Miller reported Miami “has fallen in love” with Green-Beckham and believes it can make him a reclamation project. But his history raises serious red flags.
Green-Beckham was dismissed from the Missouri team last June after a woman accused him of forcing open her apartment door at 2:30 a.m. and pushing her down four flights of stairs. No charges were filed because a reluctant witness feared retaliation.
He transferred to Oklahoma but never played there, declaring for the draft instead.
Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has taken chances with players thrown off college teams (fourth-rounder Walt Aikens, undrafted draft free agents Chris McCain and Damien Williams), but that’s a lot different than using a high pick on one.
Green-Beckham in the fifth round is one thing; the first or second round seems too risky (my opinion), though some analysts have him going that high and most agree he definitely has first-round talent.
### Mid-round options: Among those they’ve shown particular interest in: Maryland’s Stefon Diggs (who visited Davie), Houston's Deonte Greenberry and Central Michigan's Titus Davis.
Among the others: Georgia’s Chris Conley, Baylor’s Antwan Goodley, Central Arkansas’ Dezmin Lewis, William and Mary’s Tre McBride, UNLV’s DeVante Davis, Duke’s Jamison Crowder, Washington State’s Vince Mayle, Stanford’s Ty Montgomery, Georgia Tech’s DeAndre Smelter, East Carolina’s Justin Hardy and West Virginia’s Mario Alford.
Kiper expects 40 receivers will be drafted.
The Dolphins have privately worked out at least three late-round or free agent receivers: Zach D’Orazio (Akron) and New Hampshire teammates RJ Harris and Harold Spears.
HEAT, MARLINS CHATTER
### Goran Dragic assuredly will be pleased to hear Erik Spoelstra’s comments Friday that he wants to quicken the pace next season.
“I want to be happy, to play the style of basketball I want to play,” Dragic said. “That’s the main thing, not the money. I like this organization, this basketball style. Of course, I want to play a little bit faster than we did but you need to practice like that from the beginning of the season. You can’t start playing overnight like that.”
The Heat has a long way to go with pace. Miami finished ahead of only Utah in pace, according to an ESPN formula. And the Heat was 29th in possessions per game (94.3). Conversely, Golden State averaged a league-high 101.7 possessions.
"You look at teams like Golden State, best team in the NBA, they played fast, but they’re also one of the best defensive teams in the league,” Dwyane Wade said. “You have to get stops to play fast. This season, we weren’t a good defensive team. It’s hard to play fast [when] you’re taking the ball out of the net too often. I welcome [a faster pace]. As long as we get stops, let’s go.”
### Dragic said the fact the Heat can give him a fifth year in a new contract, whereas other teams can give him only four, “is pretty big. For the next three, four, five years, I want to spend it in this kind of team that is the Miami Heat because they have great players, great coaching staff.”
But he also said he and his agent would “go through” every offer. The Lakers are expected to bid.
### Though Dragic was unhappy about playing “off the ball… 35 minutes a game” in Phoenix, he made clear: “I don’t have a problem playing two guard, too, and I play that a little here. I don’t have a problem with that as long as I get touches that I need.”
### Though Dragic and Wade finished as the NBA’s best-shooting backcourt percentage-wise and “developed a great chemistry,” according to Dragic, the Heat was outscored by 28 when they were on the court together. (Having Chris Bosh with them assuredly will boost that plus/minus.)
It was also curious that Miami was outscored by 79 with Dragic and Hassan Whiteside on the court together. Conversely, Dragic was plus 58 with Chris Andersen and plus 28 with James Ennis.
Don’t read too much into that, but the need for better three-point shooting off the bench is exemplified by the fact that Miami shot only 28.7 percent on threes when four starters (Dragic, Whiteside, Wade and Luol Deng) played together with anybody else.
### It was good to hear players openly challenge Whiteside to improve. Wade said young players like Whiteside need to “lock yourself in a gym… and come back a totally different player. Players that want to be great, that’s what they do…
“We know he’s going to put up the numbers. But it’s more than the numbers you put it. It’s how you dominate the game; it’s how you can make the game so much easier not only for himself but for his team. Everyone around here is excited to see what’s next for him.”
Whiteside has one more prove-it year (at $981,000) before a big contract awaits.
### Make it 3-9 now for the Marlins after tonight's 5-4 loss to the Mets. As of 10 p.m. tonight, only Milwaukee had a worse record. And Miami is already six games behind the Mets.
That supposed-to-be best young outfield in baseball? Marcell Ozuna is hitting .229, Giancarlo Stanton .220 and Christian Yelich .225.
Mat Latos fell to 0-3 after allowing two runs in six innings, but the Marlins' offense --- largely dormant until they scored one in the eighth and three in the ninth --- remains the bigger issue.
"I made one bad mistake," Latos said. "It's tough right now. I'm starting to throw the ball like I used to. Best part about it is it's April. Playoffs don't start in April. Just a matter of putting things together. We've got a great ballclub. When we put it all together, there's going to be hell to pay. It sucks really bad right now."
A Marlins closed door meeting before the game did not produce the desired results.
Don't blame second baseman Dee Gordon, whose 5 for 5 night raised his average to .400.