WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The Dolphins have begun summoning draft prospects that intrigue them to team headquarters, and there’s an emphasis on three need areas: receiver, linebacker and defensive back.
According to a team source, Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, Auburn receiver Sammy Coates and Southern California receiver George Farmer are among the maximum-permitted 30 non-local players being flown to South Florida to meet with coaches and executives in Davie.
Parker, a possibility for Miami’s No. 14 overall pick in the first round, caught 43 passes for 855 yards and five touchdowns last season. Coates, a potential second-rounder, caught 34 for 741 and four TDs and combines excellent speed with good size (6-1). Farmer, an early entrant and potential later round pick or free agent, caught 25 passes for 314 yards and four TDs in 2014.
The Dolphins also have invited UM’s Phillip Dorsett (36, 871, 10 TDs) and FSU’s Reshad Greene (99, 1365, 7 TDs) to audition for them and meet with coaches on their local day April 10.
The Dolphins like several other receivers, too, and keep in mind that the Dolphins don't exclusively draft players who visit them. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James visited last year, by the way.
Among linebackers, the Dolphins booked visits with Clemson outside linebacker Vic Beasley, Georgia inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (according to walterfootball.com) and Michigan inside linebacker Jake Ryan (confirmed by a source; first reported by ESPN’s James Walker). Beasley (13 and 12 sacks the past two seasons) could be an option at No. 14 if he surprisingly slides.
Wilson, a potential mid-round pick, averaged 122 tackles and three sacks the past two seasons. Ryan, a potential mid-rounder, had 112 tackles last season.
Among the draft’s top handful of middle linebackers, Miami plans to audition UM’s Denzel Perryman later this month and sent linebackers coach Mark Duffner to Clemson to work out and dine with potential second-rounder Stephone Anthony.
The Dolphins have been closely studying a bunch of cornerbacks and safeties.
Among defensive backs scheduled for Dolphins visits, at least three are potential second-to-fourth-rounders: Utah’s Eric Rowe (can play safety or corner); Louisville safety and Miami Southridge alum Gerod Holliman (a second- or third-rounder with 14 interceptions last season) and Louisville cornerback Charles Gaines (a Miami Central alum with seven picks over the past two years).
Also booked: Minnesota safety Cedric Thompson, a potential late-rounder or free agent who wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine but was productive in college and impressive at his Pro Day.
The Dolphins don't announce draft visits, by the way.
### FSU potential mid-round tight end Nick O’Leary (17 touchdown catches, 14.0 average catch in FSU career) won’t attend UM’s local day (he has schedule conflict) but the Dolphins like him and invited him to meet with their coaches and executives April 9 at their headquarters. (He accepted.)
### Running back Stevan Ridley left his Dolphins visit today without a contract... Linebacker Jason Trusnik, whom the Dolphins showed no interest in keeping, signed with Carolina.
### Tonight's Heat 95-81 loss to San Antonio leaves No. 7 Miami two games behind No. 6 Milwaukee (Bucks own the tiebreaker), one half game ahead of No. 8 Brooklyn (Heat owns tiebreaker) and one game ahead of No. 9 Boston (Miami owns tiebreaker). "They took their game to a different level that we couldn't go to tonight," Erik Spoelstra said of the Spurs.... Hassan Whiteside, wearing covering on his lacerated hand, came off the bench and chipped in 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 23 minutes. "He needs to get in a better rhythm," Spoelstra said... Dwyane Wade followed his 40-point game Sunday with a 15-point game, on 6 for 20 shooting.
### Heat forward Luol Deng said he hasn’t thought about, let alone decided, whether he will exercise his $10.1 million player option for next season. Deng, 29, said he likes it here. Realistically, the only reason to consider opting out is if he believes he can get a multiyear deal here or elsewhere at similar money, which is questionable. The Heat might be reluctant to make a commitment beyond next season.
But even if he opts out, the Heat (barring trades) will still be above the projected $67 million cap, once Goran Dragic’s cap hold or his salary in a new contract are factored in. (Miami could be about $6 million under the cap only if Dragic surprisingly doesn’t re-sign.)
A Deng opt-out would leave Miami scrambling to fill small forward with either a trade, or by using a $5.5 million mid-level exception or a $3.4 million taxpayer midlevel exception (which one the Heat gets to use depends on where the Heat falls regarding the projected $81 million tax threshold.)
Wesley Johnson and Gerald Green would be among modestly-priced free agent small forward options if Deng bolts. So it’s best for Miami if Deng opts in.
### UM athletic director Blake James has maintained occasional contact with David Beckham’s group and James said that group remains “interested in seeing if something makes sense for them and makes sense for us” with a new stadium.
Beckham is now strongly considering a site adjacent to Marlins Park, which would appeal to UM because of location and the Orange Bowl history.
“If it’s a win for our program, we would be interested,” said James, who wouldn’t consider any stadium seating less than 40,000.
But UM and James also feel good about the ongoing renovations at Sun Life, and UM has never asked Stephen Ross if it would hypothetically be allowed out of its longterm lease.
A high-ranking Sun Life Stadium official pooh-poohed the idea of letting UM out of its lease, but Ross has not publicly ruled it out.
### A UM official said coach Al Golden’s spring-game suspension of Joseph Yearby for missing curfew when he got caught in traffic in a rainstorm was very much in line with a new get-tough policy designed to preach accountability and not let things slide. For example, players who were just 40 seconds late to meetings this spring weren't allowed in.
### Ex-UM quarterback file: Steve Walsh left West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman after six seasons as coach to become IMG Academy’s director of football in Bradenton…. Thrown off the UM team last fall, Kevin Olsen has now been bounced from Towson for violating team rules.
### There are so many positives about this UM NIT run, which continued with a 60-57 semifinal win against Temple tonight. Among them: the growth of UM's first-year players, needed in the absence of Angel Rodriguez and tonight's second-half absence of Tonye Jekiri (concussion):
Ja'Quan Newton (nine points tonight), Omar Sherman (six points, three boards, a block), James Palmer (four points, four rebounds, one block) and Ivan Cruz Uceda (six points) all had good moments tonight.... Temple shot just 30 percent... Sheldon McClellan was very good (16 points, 11 boards).
### A veteran scout who has watched the Marlins this spring says first baseman Michael Morse looks poised for a very big year; said “I was disappointed watching Jarrod Saltalamacchia this month; he wasn’t moving well laterally behind the plate”; said the Nationals, Marlins and Mets will benefit from playing diminished Atlanta and Philadelphia 18 times each; and loves how second baseman Dee Gordon has looked: “Hit the ball hard in games I saw and he takes these long, graceful strides running the bases, which reminds me of [retired ex-Met] Mookie Wilson. It’s one of the most fun things to watch them run first to third.”