Reaction, analysis on Dolphins' first-round pick; More draft chatter; Shalala speak out; Jose update
FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Some reaction on the Dolphins drafting Louisville receiver DeVante Parker:
### ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “The board fell right for the Dolphins. Parker would give Ryan Tannehill no more excuses. This is a kid with a tremendous catch radius. Reminds me a lot of AJ Green. Can be an outstanding go-to option in the NFL. What I like about him is he will work hard, he will block. Respected team leader. He brings talent. Brings great character as well."
### ESPN’s Jon Gruden: “When you do it for two different offensive coordinators, that tells me something. He’s a natural. He’s a quick study. He has finishing speed. You talk about the catch radius; can cut the flight time down by two feet. Against tight coverage, that always wins. He’s got to stay healthy. He’s got to get stronger. That’s his only weakness. He has not been durable.”
### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: “Big bodied receiver [6-3, 209 pounds]. The thing I loved about this kid this year is he had a broken foot and only played in six games [but still] caught 43 passes, averaged 20 yards per catch. He’s one of the best run-after-catch big receivers I’ve seen in college football. He’s a special young man.”
### NFL Network’s Michael Irvin: “I love this pick. He can go up and get the football. That’s exactly what the Dolphins need. They need that big guy that can go up and get that football.”
### NFL Net’s Charles Davis: Parker’s “catch radius is ridiculous. Anywhere it is, he’s going to get his hands on it. He’s long, he’s tall, he’s aggressive. They are doing everything they can to help Tannehill.”
### ESPN’s Louis Riddick: “He’s a guy who snatches the ball out of the air aggressively. [But] some of those contested catches he’s been out-physicalled at the point of attack. Making big plays, he’s done it in various different ways. He’ll be that outside threat and help out Jarvis Landry.”
### CBS’ Pete Prisco: "Great move. They had to get a go-to receiver and this kid is exactly that.”
### Parker had at least 120 yards receiving in five of the six games he played in 2014 and his 19.9 average per catch was 10th in the country… He dropped just two of 75 passes thrown to him last season and forced 15 missed tackles in six games, which is highly impressive.... He had 33 touchdown receptions in four seasons.... His yards per catch every season, chronologically: 16.2, 18.6, 16.1, 19.9.... He played in 11, 13 and 12 games his first three seasons before playing in just six last year due to the foot injury.
### Here's how College Football Focus, the sibling of Pro Football Focus, evaluated his tape:
"He can struggle if a cornerback gets into his chest on the jam, really laboring to disengage and get into his pattern. However, the number of times that actually happens in a game makes it a very minor problem. His quickness and footwork at the line is so good at defeating the jam that a cornerback in press rarely gets anywhere near his pads.
"He only really seems to have one move to defeat that press coverage at the line (I very rarely saw him release in a different way, though he did occasionally break it out), but that move works with frightening regularity. It looks like a defender should be able to key in on it and snuff it out. But Parker routinely beats the same guy with the same move in the same game over and over to prevent them getting hands on him.
"For a guy of his size, he moves incredibly well, and his suddenness in his routes allow him to snap open in a single step when he makes his break. While Kevin White ran a pretty spartan looking route tree at West Virginia, Parker was far closer to Amari Cooper in terms of running a complete route tree, and was visibly far closer in terms of polish and refinement to his game."
### Yes, the Dolphins could use another linebacker and they’ve shown interest in several: Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney, UM’s Denzel Perryman (who says Miami's linebacker coach told him he wants the Dolphins to draft him), Michigan’s Jake Ryan, Georgia’s Ramik Wilson, among others. TCU's Paul Dawson and UCLA's Erik Kendricks would also be worth considering if available at 47. The Dolphins liked Clemson's Stephone Anthony, who went 31st to the Saints.
But one Dolphins defensive starter cautioned not to underestimate Kelvin Sheppard, a former third-round pick with 32 NFL starts in his first four seasons. The front office likes him and quickly resigned him this spring. And remember the Dolphins had only two linebackers on the field quite often during the second half of last season.
### The Dolphins have told people they want to draft a cornerback, with Utah’s Eric Rowe, FSU’s P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, FAU’s D’Joun Smith and Miami of Ohio’s Quinten Rollins among day-two possibilities who have piqued their interest.
They also brought in LSU's Jalen Collins, who could slip to 47, though his reported positive drug tests in college could be a deterrent to Miami amid the Dion Jordan fiasco. Alabama safety Landon Collins would be good value if he slips to 47, though that's not a pressing need.
### Knowing the interior of their line needs bolstering, the Dolphins raced around to audition several guards in the past three weeks, including South Carolina’s A.J. Cann, FSU’s Tre Jackson and Josue Matias, UM’s Jon Feliciano, Pittsburgh tackle/guard T.J. Clemmings, and Louisville’s John Miller. They hosted Texas A&M’s Jarvis Harrison and Hobart’s Ali Marpet.
Another player they like at guard, LSU's La'el Collins, remains available, his stock having tumbled because of an ongoing police investigation. (Google for details, if you aren't aware.) Also still available, entering round two: Oregon tackle Jake Fisher, who the Dolphins brought in for a visit as a potential guard option.
### Though cornerback, guard and linebacker are the Dolphins' biggest needs in round two, the fact they’ve brought in three second-round defensive tackles on pre-draft visits suggests that position should not be ruled out by any means for Miami in the second round.
### The Dolphins are among teams with interest in a trade for Rams starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers, according to draft analyst Tony Pauline.
### UM's two first-round picks tonight (Ereck Flowers ninth to the Giants, Phillip Dorsett 29th to the Colts) are the Hurricanes' first first-round picks since Kenny Phillips went 31st to the Giants in 2008.
### Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez threw to live hitters (15 of them) Thursday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May. And it went very well; Fernandez indicated afterward that he felt great. He remains on track to return to the Marlins between mid-June and mid-July.
### As UM president Donna Shalala prepares to leave the university at the end of the month, she has a message for Hurricanes fans irked with Al Golden: “Be patient.”
Why does she remain convinced that Golden is a good coach?
“He’s got integrity, he’s got coaching skill,” she told me last week. “I just think we have to be patient. We’ve been under the cloud of the NCAA. But more than that, it takes a long time to build world-class teams.”
Her proudest sports achievement as UM’s president? “It’s not just the national championships,” she said. “We’ve recruited some outstanding coaches. We have a group now that is truly exceptional. [Deceased legendary former baseball coach] Ron Fraser would have agreed with that.”
When the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds asked Shalala in a longer interview if UM would be playing at Sun Life Stadium in five years, Shalala said she didn’t know and that Sun Life is “too big and cavernous for a college of our size.”
As we reported last year, UM remains highly interested in a joint facility with David Beckham’s MLS team, provided the stadium has at least 40,000 seats (MLS ideally would prefer smaller) and that it could escape its Sun Life lease (highly questionable). The site near Marlins Park would appeal to UM.