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Reaction on Dolphins draft; Heat, UM/Jacory, Fins update

Before we get to Sunday's buzz column, a few items:

1) Knicks center Tyson Chandler said Monday morning that he's recovering from his flu and will play in Game 2 against the Heat. He said he felt like a "zombie" during Game 1. Knicks guard Baron Davis (back) said he's not feeling great but will play. 

2) Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, recovering from April 2 knee surgery, said today it's a possibility he might return for Game 4 of the Heat-Knicks series.

3) Sunday afternoon note: UM quarterback Jacory Harris, who went undrafted, will audition for the Dolphins at their rookie min-camp this coming weekend. (He has not signed, but will audition). He will audition for the Arizona Cardinals the following week. The Kansas City Chiefs also have expressed interest in taking a look at him.

4) Tight end Nick Mandich, one of late/great Dolphins announcer Jim Mandich's three sons, also accepted an invitation to audition at the Dolphins rookie mini-camp next week.... The Dolphins on Sunday signed undrafted cornerbacks Kevyn Scott (Syracuse) and Trenton Hughes (Maryland). Scott went to St. Thomas Aquinas.

5) Besides the undrafted Canes listed below, others who reportedly joined teams Sunday include LaRon Byrd (Arizona), Micanor Regis (Falcons), JoJo Nicolas (Giants) and Jordan Futch (Buccaneers).


Dolphins draft postscripts:

### The glass-half-full view from the past three days: Miami not only landed a (possible) longterm quarterback but two other prospects who some considered first-round talents (Jonathan Martin, Lamar Miller). What’s more, the Olivier Vernon pick drew plaudits among evaluators.

The glass-half-empty perspective? The Dolphins didn’t procure a sure-fire rotation-caliber receiver, though B.J. Cunningham’s production at Michigan State suggests he MIGHT be a No. 3 or No. 4. Also, concerns were raised about Martin’s strength. Plus, safety and right guard remain shaky.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock thought a receiver would have been sensible in the third round, suggesting Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu (115 catches last season) or Wisconsin’s Nick Toon. “They don’t have a No. 1 receiver,” Mayock said, making the point again in round four.

Instead, the Dolphins took Michael Egnew at 78; Mayock noted Missouri tight ends, like Egnew, are often “freakish tight ends that don’t block.” But “he really can run.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay said Egnew, whose receptions dropped from 90 to 50 in 2011, must “become more consistently productive, do a better job running routes and separating.” Pro Football Weekly's respected draft analysis said he has “no power” as a blocker and “shows little strength or creativity after the catch” but “can make difficult catches look easy.”

### Mayock said of Vernon: “Of all the [UM] underclassmen that came out – and I don’t think most of them should – Vernon is one I bang the table for. When he got back [from suspension], he played every step with passion. He’s a solid 4-3 defensive end.”

McShay called Vernon a “great pick. Production didn’t always match up, but he shows quickness off the line and has a chance to make an impact as a pass-rusher.” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said he’s also “decent against the run. Had he played a full year, maybe he could have been an early to mid second-round pick.”

### ESPN’s Jon Gruden and Mayock said Stanford’s Martin can move seamlessly from left to right tackle, but Kiper isn’t convinced, suggesting Mississippi’s Bobby Massie made more sense at 42.

Miami “was the worst pass protection team in football last year,” Gruden said. “Why not get three-year starter who took care of Andrew Luck’s blind side? He’s athletic” but “you would like to see more thump, more explosion.”

Said Kiper: “A finesse guy, needs more power.” Mayock said he’s a “first-round talent and will start” immediately but “consistency and toughness were some questions from scouts.” PFW noted Martin “was exposed by the speed of USC’s Nick Perry” and called him an “overhyped developmental project who needs to get stronger.”

### All the analysts agree Miller was a great value pick in the fourth round, even though the Dolphins didn’t necessarily need a running back. McShay said Miller “is the most explosive runner in this draft. He’s not Chris Johnson, but he’s not that far away.” Said Mayock: “I love his ability with the ball in his hands, but I don’t think he can pass protect and I don’t think he’s any kind of short yardage guy. You don’t see him on the goal line, third down and short yardage and that’s a red flag.”

Kiper said Miller “plays like he’s 5-10, 185” even though “he’s 5-11, 215. He can take a pounding. He’s a big guy with game-breaking speed. The question is can he be multi-dimensional.”

FYI: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland envisions Miller returning punts (he averaged 23.1 yards on seven returns in 2011, eight for 26.8 in 2010). He called him a "developmental back" who needs to become "a little more rugged" in better in pass protection.

Of taking two UM players (Vernon and Miller), Ireland said Al Golden -- who spoke at length to Ireland about UM's players -- "has been very good to me. I like the way he coaches his players. I believe in his program." "The ceiling" on Miller and Vernon "is endless."

Here’s what Pro Football Weekly’s draft analysis said on Miami’s other picks Saturday: Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu is “lean, athletic, with good range, closing speed and pass-rush potential” but “can be exploited in the pass game.” And he “too often loses positioning in man coverage.”…

Sixth-round receiver Cunningham (79, 1306) “works the middle of the field and makes catches in traffic. Physical after the catch. Very good production. Most effective running slants and working inside and using his size to move the chains. [But] very small hands. Pedestrian speed. Struggles to separate vs. man coverage. Struggled vs. better cornerbacks and showed he can be contained: see Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan. Shut down vs. Nebraska’s Alfonso Dennard.”… 

Seventh-round receiver Rishard Matthews from Nevada (91 catches, 1364 yards in 2011) has "reliable hands and is productive after catch" and can also return points (13.3 average in 2011) but "lacks top end speed to blow by defenders or pull away from the pack. Has clear developmental value."

Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall has “very good size and length” but “poor hand use, marginal pass-rush value and limited upside.”

### PFW's analysis of some of Miami's post-draft signings:

Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray had 791 yards and a 6.9 per carry average in 11 games before tearing his ACL against Boston College. "Could turn out to be a surprise value pick if he can stay healthy and learn to protect the ball." He has seven fumbles in 200 career touches....

Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller (70 catches, 826 yards last year and one of Ryan Tannehill's targets in college) "struggles to separate vertically and drops have been too prevalent." At 6-4, he's a "a big, inconsistent, possession/red zone receiver whose stock tumbled during a disappointing, injury-plagued season when he too often appeared distracted."

Penn State receiver Derek Moye (40 catches, 654 yards) is "a possession receiver whose best chance to stick with come as a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver in a West Coast system."...

Missouri 6-2, 253-pound defensive end Jacquies Smith (five sacks, four passes batted down, four forced fumbles last season) is a "tweener speed rusher whose speed isn't special. Disappears for stretches."... Arkansas State safety Kelcie McCray (10 career highs) has "good speed and tackling ability."... Other undrafted free agents who say they're joining the Dolphins include Oregon State linebacker Cameron Collins, Portland State offensive tackle Dustin Waldron, Purdue safety Albert Evans, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Chas Alecxih, Temple guard Derek Dennis, Boise State defensive end Jarrell Root, BYU center Terence Brown, Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby and Arizona State linebacker Shelly Lyons


### If the Dolphins change their mind and decide to add another veteran receiver, available options include include Houston’s Jacoby Jones (likely would be cut if the Texans can’t trade him) and free agents Plaxico Burress, Patrick Crayton, Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Mark Clayton, Greg Camarillo, Bernard Berrian. Donald Driver would be an option if the Packers release him; they have been non-committal.

Besides Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Miami's other receivers are Legedu Naanee, Clyde Gates, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace, Cunningham and Matthews.  "I have confidence in the players I have on the roster," Ireland said of receiver. "We have some young players that are ascending."

### Dolphins fans can drive themselves nuts by ruminating over Ryan Tannehill’s 2011 numbers. Consider: He was 53rd among major college quarterbacks in completion percentage at 61.6, though it would have been 68.1 if half of the 79 dropped passes were caught. He was 67th in yards per attempt at 7.1, worse than FIU’s Wesley Carroll and well behind UM’s Jacory Harris (20th).

He had the 56th-best rating, worse than any drafted QB except Ryan Lindley, and threw the sixth-most picks (15).

What’s more, on balls thrown 20 yards or more, Tannehill was just 16 for 58 (37.7 yards per catch), compared with 19 for 44 (33.7) for Brandon Weeden, who had the benefit of Justin Blackmon. ESPN’s KC Joyner noted Tannehill was sharp from short range, completing 76 percent of passes thrown 10 yards or less, with 13 touchdowns and one pick, but had more picks (six) than touchdowns (five) on balls thrown 11 to 19 yards.

But besides his size and arm strength, here are positives we keep hearing: His knack for making plays on the run (“pretty impressed” by that, Washington’s Mike Shanahan told us. “He’s got good feet. I watched every throw”); his intelligence (“I see vision, I see progression reading,” Charley Casserly told us); and his toughness (among the first qualities mentioned by general managers Scott Pioli of the Chiefs and John Schneider of Seattle).

### Owner Steven Ross said it would be fine with him if Tannehill doesn’t play a down in 2012, meaning he won't pressure the staff… Though Kiper has been calling Joe Philbin a quarterback guru, Philbin admitted he wasn’t involved much in developing Aaron Rodgers. As Rich Gannon says, Philbin is an "offensive line guy" (like Tony Sparano, but more cerebral and less of a yeller)….

### The irony of Philip Merling’s release is some of last year’s coaches expressed frustration with his lack of passion, shaky work habits and limited production, but Ireland wanted to keep him. Ireland finally came around last week.


### LeBron James was understated after his Game 1 masterpiece Saturday, saying, "It was an efficient game for myself. I'm not going to always be as efficient as I was tonight." Consider: His 71.4 percent shooting against the Knicks in Game 1 (10 for 14) was his highest in 93 postseason games, and his 32 points marked the 41st time he has scored at least 30 in the playoffs. What's more, his 28.1 scoring average is fifth highest in NBA postseason history, behind only Michael Jordan (33.4), Allen Iverson, Jerry West and Tracy McGrady.

### Mike Miller shot 3 for 10 on Shane Battier 2 for 8 in Game 1, but that does not remotely tell the story. Battier was on the floor for all of the 24-2 stampede to end the second quarter and Miller was on the floor for all but two points of that. Both hit big threes in that run, and both played stout defense. Battier had six boards and a blocked shot, Miller four rebounds and a steal. "It's a treat to have [Battier]," James said. As Dwyane Wade said, "What I think was great is Shane took some pressure off LeBron by being able to guard Carmelo Anthony a lot."

### Impending free agent Steve Nash, 38, said, “I love what [the Heat] is doing” and “I would definitely listen to them” but “I have no clue” about where he will play next season. “I’m in no rush... Winning and being competitive and being part of a good environment, those are at the top" of factors important to him.

If Nash – who finished second in the league in assists (10.7) and led all guards in shooting percentage (53.6) – leaves Phoenix to play for a championship contender, the most plausible options are Miami and the Lakers, who both have only a $3 million exception. The Knicks would be, too, but need their $5 million exception to re-sign Jeremy Lin.

### Here's where some undrafted Canes players signed Saturday night: Chase Ford (Eagles), Marcus Forston (Patriots), Adewale Ojomo (Giants), Harland Gunn (Cowboys), Tyler Horn (Falcons).... Undrafted Gators quarterback John Brantley and receiver Deonte Thompson signed with Baltimore.

### When Heath Bell made clear he didn’t appreciate a Marlins trainer questioning his workout routine – “apparently our trainer says I work too hard” - it wasn’t a shock. Two players and three prominent agents in the past year criticized the Marlins’ trainers to us, questioning their ability to diagnose and treat injuries, among other issues. One agent said he would be leery about sending pitchers here because of the training staff. Unhappy players persuaded management to promote a third trainer (Dustin Luepker) from Double A this spring.