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May 06, 2014

Thirteen analysts weigh in on Dolphins' first-round pick; Fins, UM, Marlins; Heat-Nets postscripts


Who should the Dolphins take at No. 19 in the first round of the draft on Thursday night?

Sampling views from 13 analysts: 

### ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. “The offensive line options here are a reach for me. The pass-rusher is, too, as I don't see Anthony Barr as a great option at this spot. The top two cornerbacks will also be gone.

“Mosley is the best player available here, and it'll be hard to keep him off the field, given his ability to cover. If the Dolphins are looking to save money at this time next year [by cutting Dannell Ellerbe or Philip Wheeler], they'll be glad they have him.”

### ESPN’s Todd McShay: Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. “The Dolphins should look for an opportunity to move up to go get Zack Martin. The Steelers would be a good potential trade partner at No. 15, but if they stay here, I think Moses makes sense.

“I don't know that everyone is as high on Moses as I am, but it's hard to have a more glaring need at a position group than the Dolphins have at offensive line. Moses performed better at left tackle at Virginia than he did at right tackle, so that could make for an interesting situation with Branden Albert slotted for the left side.”

### Draftinsider.net's Tony Pauline said if Zack Martin is off the board, he either would trade down (and potentially pick an offensive lineman lower) or stay at 19 and select a cornerback or a safety (if Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is available).

### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock advocates taking Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio even though “there were inconsistencies in his game. That last game against Oklahoma was pretty bad.”

### NFL Films’ Greg Cosell: FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin. “He’s a more naturally fluid athlete with more upside than [Texas A&M’s] Mike Evans. The big concern is he had too many routine drops.”

### Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: Kouandjio. “Not the tackle the Dolphins wanted, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers. The Dolphins’ need is so big that new GM Dennis Hickey just has to do this. I expect Hickey to try to move up for Zack Martin, but I also expect he’ll find the price way too high.”

### Sporting News analyst Russ Lande: He said he would take Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller if available, even ahead of Martin.

“Fuller is the best cornerback in this draft and it’s hard to find big cornerbacks who are athletic and excel in coverage.” If Fuller and Martin are off the board, Lande said he would take UCLA guard Xavier Sua-Filo.

### NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. Said it makes sense with no top offensive tackle left at No. 19. And Shazier is gaining steam as a Dolphins possibility; he met with Dolphins officials for 90 minutes on Monday.

### NFL Net’s Charley Casserly: Kouandjio, because of need.

### NFL Network’s Charles Davis: Martin. “Fills a screaming o-line need.”

### NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger: “If the medicals on the knee check out, Kouandjio is a good pick for Miami. He is a dominant player and a great run blocker when healthy. And he can start at right tackle immediately.”

### The Simms family: CBS' Phil Simms predicts Miami will get Martin. His son, Chris, now a CBS Sports Network draft analyst, predicts Miami will choose UCLA’s Su’a Filo.


### We're told the Dolphins' shifting of Koa Misi to middle linebacker remains a decent possibility (though not definite), and Misi has voiced no objections, contrary to a published report.

### Former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said Hickey advocated drafting Mike Glennon, who threw 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a rookie and now (according to ESPN) likely will be traded by the new Buccaneers regime, which signed Josh McCown to replace him. It wouldn’t make sense for Miami to part with a second-round pick for Glennon, if the Buccaneers can get that for him.

But if the Dolphins could acquire Glennon for a mid-rounder and later trade or cut Matt Moore, they would save a lot of cap space that can be carried over to 2015, when Miami needs it. Moore’s cap hit is $5.5 million if he’s on the team in 2014, $1.5 million if he’s not. Glennon’s is just $705,000.

### Good guy Roger Mason Jr. --- traded by Miami to Sacramento Feb. 20 and then cut --- still talks about himself as if he’s with the Heat.

He’s a presence in Miami’s locker-room before and after games this postseason, partly because he’s the union vice president but largely because “this is my team. These are my brothers. Being traded, that doesn't change. Everyone wants to play. I have to contribute in other ways."


### Couple notes in the aftermath of Seantrel Henderson’s positive marijuana test at the NFL Combine: One departing UM senior said even beyond the marijuana use, it was disappointing that Henderson allowed himself to get out of shape before the draft… Some analysts now won't be surprised if Brandon Linder ends up being drafted before Henderson….

A UM official said the program tightened loopholes in its drug-testing program last season, reducing the chance of players obtaining “clear” urine tests from friends. A person involved in the UM program said the change has reduced marijuana use on the team but did not eradicate it.

### UM tonight lost out in its pursuit of four-star Jersey City quarterback prospect Brandon Wimbish, who orally committed to Penn State.

Meanwhile, four-star Plantation American Heritage dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson, South Florida’s top 2015 prospect, said UM has fallen from his favorite to No. 8 on his list “because they’re not staying in contact with me.”

Gibson, who lists Tennessee No. 1, threw 19 touchdowns and three picks and ran for 10 touchdowns and averaged 9.6 yards per rush last season. But UM is vigorously pursuing another four-star dual threat quarterback: Baltimore-based Kai Locksley, who has UM in his top 10.

### Three-star Georgia-based defensive tackle Quentez Johnson de-committed from UM tonight, tweeting: "I feel as if I rushed into a decision."

### Good news for the Marlins: Though Casey McGehee signed only a one-year contract (for $1.1 million), he won’t be a free agent after this season, but arbitration-eligible instead.

McGehee is second among all third basemen in average (.315), is tied for first in RBI (23) and is batting .441 with runners in scoring position. And he's considered a good clubhouse presence.  

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz.... And again, please see the last post for nuggets from Tuesday's Heat game.   

Postscripts, reaction from Heat's Game 1 drubbing of Brooklyn

Postscripts on the Heat’s 107-86 Game 1 win against Brooklyn on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena:

### So much for concerns about being rusty. The Heat shot 56.8 percent from the field, moved the ball well, and dominated in the interior, outscoring the Nets 52-28 in the paint.

We executed well,” said LeBron James, who had 22 points (10 for 15 shooting). “It seems like we didn’t take much time off at all. 52 points in the paint.... 22 assists, 10 turnovers. To have eight days off playing the game, I feared the rhythm would be [affected]. It’s a good step in the direction we want to keep going. Our energy and effort were very high.”

Said Chris Bosh: "I was surprised that we did have good rhythm after such a long break. We did not have that last year [when Miami lost to Chicago in Game 1 of the second round]. I kept saying all week that we felt that we were going to attack this situation better this time. And we did."

### Smart move by Erik Spoelstra to start Shane Battier (eight points) instead of Udonis Haslem against the Nets' undersized frontcourt, which featured Paul Pierce at power forward and Joe Johnson at small forward.

“We need Shane,” James said. “Our team is very different. Every series is going to dictate what Spo does with the lineup. This series, with the group Jason Kidd starts, Shane starts and he steps up big time.”

### This was encouraging: Ray Allen, who shot just 5 for 19 and scored 13 points in the first round, regained his touch, with 19 points in 26 minutes, shooting 6 for 10 from the field and 4 for 7 on threes.

### Brooklyn held the Heat to 94.3 points per game in the regular season, eight points below Miami’s overall average. But the Heat easily surpassed that Wednesday. “It’s hard to beat a team shooting that great,” Johnson said.

Also noteworthy: The Nets outrebounded the Heat, 201-158, in the four games in the regular season, but were outrebounded 37-32 in Game 1.

### James and Paul Pierce exchanged a laugh before the game, with James telling Pierce "it's only right" that they meet again in postseason.

“He’s like a family member at this point,” James said. “It’s like a cousin you don’t see until a family reunion. I’ve had nine straight postseasons and seen Paul in five of them. He’s one of the best guys I love to compete against. It’s great to see him again.”

### LeBron, on losing the MVP race to Kevin Durant: "We had too many up and down stretches throughout the season, and if my team's not winning, then I shouldn't be MVP."

### James became the eighth player in NBA history to score 4000 points in the postseason. He has 4013. Jerry West is seventh with 4457.

### James admitted that one reason for the Heat’s uneven play before postseason was this: “During the season, it was really frustrating with guys in and out of the lineup. It was tough to get that [chemistry]." And now? "We have 15 guys ready to play now. We’re playing our best basketball.”

### Dwyane Wade, who scored 14 on 7 for 13 shooting, assessed Game 1 thusly: “That is the way we would love to play every night. To have multiple guys really being involved, the ball was moving, and the biggest thing is our energy, our effort and our focus to detail on the defensive end. I thought it was phenomenal.”

### The Nets’ unraveling began, innocently enough, with Andray Blatche inexplicably missing a point-blank shot under the basket nearly five minutes into the third quarter.

A hoop by Blatche in that spot could have sliced Miami’s lead to 56-54. Instead, it jump-started the Heat on a 14-2 spurt, a stretch from which the Nets fully recovered.

Brooklyn never closed to within single digits the rest of the night, undone by shoddy defense, lack of ball movement (11 assists to 11 turnovers) and a lopsided deficit in paint points.

“Our defense was bad,” said point guard Deron Williams, who scored 17. “We can’t allow them to get layup after layup.”

And offensively, “we have to be more aggressive,” Kevin Garnett said. “Shaun Livingston was the only starter that went to the free throw line [1 for 2]. We can’t have that.”

### In sum, this in no way resembled the four regular season games between the teams, all won by the Nets.

“That’s why they’re the champs,” Paul Pierce said. “We’ve got to have double the effort. [But] it was a three-point game at the half. We’re not overreacting. We feel like we can still get a game in this building.”

### The Heat has won 13 of its past 14 playoff series when it led 1-0.

### With his team down 79-66, Nets coach Jason Kidd opened the fourth quarter with four backups and Shaun Livingston. That lineup floundered offensively, and the Heat extended the lead to 86-70 by the time Garnett returned with 7:06 left.

With the Heat firmly in control, Kidd decided not to bother re-inserting Pierce, Joe Johnson or Williams. “I wanted to give the stars a break,” Kidd said.

### It was disappointing opener for the Nets’ future Hall of Famers.

Garnett, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s Game 7 win against Toronto, went scoreless in 15 minutes, the first time he failed to score in 139 postseason games.

He took only two shots, missing both, and had four rebounds while being thoroughly outplayed by Chris Bosh (15 points, 11 boards).

“They have some holes in their defense we can probably compromise,” Garnett said. “They have been waiting on us. They have been resting. They have been hearing that we beat them [all four games]. That was gasoline on the fire.”

Pierce, who averaged more points against the Heat this season than any other team (21.3), scored just 8 points on 3 for 8 shooting in 28 minutes.

James opened defensively against Pierce, with Battier guarding Johnson, who scored 17.

“We’ve got to do a better job with our defense,” Pierce said. “You can’t give a team like Miami this many layups. We’ve got to put up more resistance.”

### Pierce, by the way, has now played more games against the Heat (70) than any opposing player, breaking a tie with Allan Houston.

### The Nets succeeded in curtailing the Heat’s fast break points (just four) but couldn’t generate nearly enough easy baskets of their own.  Brooklyn managed just seven fast break points, missed 7 of 17 free throws.

“We didn’t move the ball well enough to attack,” Pierce said. “We made the first pass, but not the second or third.”

### Chris Andersen left in the fourth with a knee contusion. “He’s on a full body of ice right now,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll see how he responds in the next couple of days.”

Please check back later tonight for a lot of Dolphins, plus Canes and Marlins in the Wednesday buzz column... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz