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NFL encouraged by UM's talent; Dolphins, Heat, Marlins chatter


ESPN’s Trey Wingo cracked during the third round of the NFL draft that “two of the last three picks have been from Connecticut and we’re still waiting for one pick from the University of Michigan or Miami. Things are changing.”

The fact Miami had only two draft picks (Rams fifth-rounder Brandon McGee, Buccaneers sixth-rounder Mike James) was primarily a result of its small senior class and the previous year’s early departures. Still, UM now has gone five years in a row without a first-rounder after having one every year from 1995 to 2008.

And though the Hurricanes might not have one next year, evaluators see encouraging signs. “Things are changing with the talent level there, especially offensively,” said one NFL scout who studies UM a lot. “They can have at least five kids drafted next year.”

CBS’ Rob Rang lists defensive end Anthony Chickillo as the 45th-best overall prospect in next year’s draft (should he turn pro early) and Seantrel Henderson 49th.

CBS also lists Henderson the No. 5 senior tackle, Stephen Morris the No. 10 quarterback, Allen Hurns the No. 11 receiver, Asante Cleveland the No. 12 tight end and Brandon Linder the No. 16 guard. An NFC scout said he’s intrigued by tight end Clive Walford – “very talented” – and that Henderson can be a first-rounder if he plays to his potential.

Though he’s not there yet, the NFC scout said Morris could make himself a second-rounder if he keeps improving: “He will have the strongest arm in the draft next year.” And “he can move,” another scout said of his mobility. “He wins games.”

Morris will be part of a deep quarterback class, headlined by Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. UM’s most electrifying player, running back Duke Johnson, will not be eligible for next year’s draft.


So have the Dolphins done enough to legitimately challenge the Patriots? “Absolutely,” ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said. “Jeff Ireland did a heck of a job building this team.” But Mel Kiper cautioned: “To say they’re going to challenge New England, it’s two years away…. Mike Wallace was underrated at Ole Miss. He’s overrated now.”

### Among the undrafted players added by the Dolphins, National Football Post’s Russ Lande said keep an eye on Michigan’s Jordan Kovacs (“tough, instinctive, good chance to make it as third safety”), BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree (“could be special teams ace, Larry Izzo type”); Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall (4.7 career per-carry average; “physical runner; can become a productive No. 2”); and Arkansas linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, son of the UM great…. Duquesne defensive back Zach Richert, Dan Marino’s nephew, will audition for the Dolphins this weekend but is a major long shot.

### Chris Andersen said one of the great things about his Heat experience has been “they let me be me. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” He said Pat Riley told him “we want you to be you, [but also] somewhere along the lines of, ‘Don’t grow out your beard, don’t grow out your hair, don’t grow out that awesome mustache you had.'”

Owner Micky Arison told 790 The Ticket this week “there was a lot of concern about his past.” But the Heat researched him more than it has any player in recent years. At his Heat audition, “it took less than five minutes for me to be totally comfortable with the guy,” Arison said. “Genuinely nice person.”

### Arison, by the way, was asked by 790 about the prospect of keeping together the Big Three in 2014, when all three can become free agents and the luxury tax becomes more punitive. “It is do-able. Next question,” he said. “… Why worry 15 months ahead of time?” Regarding the impact of the tax in general, he said his front office “is going to have to be very creative.”

### What did Arison think of Riley telling Boston’s Danny Ainge “to shut the [expletive] up” after Ainge criticized LeBron James for voicing displeasure about hard fouls against him? “I thought it was terrific – couldn’t have said it better myself.”

### When James MVP award is announced – possibly Sunday – he will join Bill Russell as the second player to win it four times in five years.

### The Marlins hope either Zack Cox or Derek Dietrich becomes their eventual third baseman, and both are flourishing at Double A: Cox is at .328; Dietrich – who is playing second and – is at .281, three homers, 11 RBI. If Cox pans out, Dietrich could be challenge Donovan Solano at second.

### Besides newly-signed 17-year-old Belgian Emmanuel LeComte, UM’s other only natural point guard who will definitely be eligible next season is three-star Corn Elder, who is on football scholarship and will play either running back or receiver. Elder was recruited for basketball by Purdue but not by UM, but UM will allow him to play both sports. Considering LeComte needs time to adapt, Elder might end up being more of a factor in basketball than UM expected.