The Miami Dolphins spent much of this offseason trying to get better while at the same time trying to give themselves some flexibility in the coming NFL draft.
But the way this is playing out, it is hard to fathom the Dolphins not going for defense early on. It is also hard to fathom the Dolphins trading up barring the draft board collapse of a player they seriously value -- something that doesn't often happen because most players drop for a reason.
Think of it ...
Are the Dolphins going to pick Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round at No. 13 overall? They have, after all, called him in for a visit at their facility.
Well, I'd say he's a value at No. 13. I'd say do it! He's a starter on Day One. He's a playmaker.
But, you see, other NFL teams are saying the same thing.
Dallas values Elliott. And they pick No. 4 overall. So, the Cowboys go with a can't-miss playmaker behind that very good offensive line, and the conversation is over.
The Eagles like Elliott a lot. He will visit them. They pick No. 8 overall. Remember No. 8? It belonged to the Dolphins before they traded it to Philly.
The Chicago Bears like Elliott. They pick No. 11. And my genius tells me Chicago's No. 11 is before Miami No. 13.
The thing is even if the Dolphins think Elliot might fall to No. 13, they must consider that Oakland, drafting No. 14, also thinks Elliott can be great in silver and black. And the Raiders can try to move up ahead of Miami to grab Elliott. By the way, the Raiders have Latavius Murray who is good. But running back is a two-man job in the NFL now.
So the probability of Elliott actually being there when the Dolphins select at No. 13 (assuming that is where they select) is not great. Not at all.
Where does that leave Miami?
Are they going to pick a linebacker at No. 13? Even if his name is Myles Jack?
First, I don't believe Jack, recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, is going to be there at No. 13, either. No. 8, maybe. No. 13, hard to fathom. I think he's the best defensive player prospect in the draft if he's healthy. He's not healthy.
At any rate, I have been told the Dolphins have other linebacker options later in the draft -- like in the third round. Miami has been all over SEC LBs, including LSU's Deion Jones.
Everything leads me back to that. Everything.
Players falling to Miami's No. 13 overall or there about.
Need. (Yeah, teams say they don't draft for need, except have you noticed they do?)
The Dolphins have done extensive research on bigger cornerbacks. I know Vernon Hargreaves is a big draw locally because of his University of Florida ties. But he is 5-10. He might become the NFL's greatest 5-10 cornerback on the field next year. But he'll still be giving away 4-6 inches to the top AFC East pass catchers.
I hope Dolphins are thinking longer cornerbacks.
The Dolphins really like Houston's William Jackson III. He's 6-foot. He's ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the combine. He was productive. And teams are all over him. He's visited Baltimore, Oakland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Dolphins.
So the teams drafting No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 have shown interest in this player.
The Dolphins have also done extensive work on Ohio State's Eli Apple. He's 6-1 and 199 pounds. The draft gurus are all over the map on Apple. Former NFL personnel man and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick compared Apple favorably to FSU's Jalen Ramsey. Mel Kiper has Apple going in the first round to Seattle. ESPN's Todd McShay has Apple falling to the second round. And NFL Media's Mike Mayock rates Apple the second best cornerback in the draft.
Craziness. I know this: Apple is definitely on the Miami radar. If Jackson is gone, the team might be tempted to trade down and still get Apple.
The Dolphins are absolutely going to play press coverage. Apple is suited for this, although he does require a ton of technique work.
The Dolphins might also double-down at cornerback -- meaning they pick more than one this draft. Artie Burns, from the University of Miami, has gotten a lot of attention from the Dolphins. He is 6-foot-and-change and 193 pounds. He needs to get in the weight room. He needs better coaching. He needs time to improve his ball skills.
He had a bad season in 2015. But he also was dealing with the death of his mom so that should probably be factored in.
Scouts I talk to like Burns in the late second or third round. The Dolphins are scheduled to pick 11th in the second round (42nd overall). I do not see Burns as a first-round pick.
The Dolphins like Mississippi State cornerback Tavese Calhoun later in the draft. He's 6-foot and 199 pounds. He's not fast but everything about him screams leadership and intelligence and sound technique. He's had only one interference call in 136 targets.
The Dolphins need wide receivers. Matt Hazel signed his exclusive rights contract recently so he is in the pack and vying for a job.
But the Dolphins are looking for two receivers to make the roster after Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. That's because they got rid of Greg Jennings and lost Rishard Matthews in free agency.
The team has done extensive work on Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant, who can double as a kick returner. Grant is a fun story because he's all of 5-6. But he ran anywhere from a 4.1 to a 4.38, depending on who you believe, at his Pro Day. I want to believe the kid ran 4.1. But I don't. Sorry. Let's just agree on the idea he's fast because, at 5-6, he better be.
The Dolphins visited with Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo. (New England Bill Belichick for some reason loves Rutgers players and the Pats visited with Carroo as well). Carroo is not a speed guy despite a gaudy yards per catch average last season.
Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson had a private workout with Miami last week. Miami's Herb Waters was part of the locals visits and workouts last week. And I reported he ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, per a source. Waters, a later round prospect, is 6-1.
Hurricanes WR Rashawn Scott also participated in the local visits with the Dolphins. As did Western Michigan wide receiver Daniel Braverman.
German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer has drawn tons of pre-draft interest from much of the NFL. Kansas City, Minnesota, Green Bay, The L.A. Rams, Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, have been paying close attention. Last Friday, he was at Florida Atlantic University, to work out for nine teams.
The Dolphins haven't been too keen on him despite the fact he is 6-4 and 227 pounds and has been regularly just down the road -- first for his pro day and then for another workout.
I'm hearing multiple teams, not just the Dolphins, think of Boehringer as a late-round and more likely a UDFA type prospect. Why? German football is not the NFL. German football is not even major college quality. And while Boehringer times and measures well, he's never had a Richard Sherman or Josh Norman line up in his grill and dared him to get off the line of scrimmage.
People I talk to tell me it will take Boehringer months to figure out how to overcome this. Think about that. It is going to take this player months to figure out just how to get off the line of scrimmage.
This and that:
The Dolphins have shown interest in positions other than CB, LB, RB and WR.
The team has shown interest in Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi. They've met with him. The Dolphins see him as a guard prospect. The NFL sees him as a likely second-round player but anything is possible and some team might grab him in the first round. It's hard to imagine the Dolphins drafting a guard at No. 13 overall when he isn't a latter day Alan Faneca or something of the sort.
Other local guys the Dolphins like include ...
FAU safety Sharrod Neasman. He ran a 4.55 and weighed 209 for Miami. The Packers, Lions, Falcons and Cowboys like him a lot.
Miami safety Deon Bush. Productive in college if you ignore his disaster versus FSU. He's a solid, athletic guy but instincts, change of direction, dynamic playmaking and smarts? Questions.
Miami defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu, all 6-5 and 280 pounds of him, and FAU defensive end Brandin Bryant have met with Dolphins coaches as well.