Senior Bowl 2011: The South's Most Intriguing Prospects for the Miami Dolphins
Last week, I looked at some draft prospects from the North roster of the 2011 Senior Bowl that may be of interest to the Miami Dolphins.
The Senior Bowl came and went last week with the South's 24-10 victory, and now, I'll take a look at some of the top talent on the South squad.
Keep in mind, these articles are not top 10 lists based purely on talent and potential. Rather, they are tailored to the needs and schemes of the Miami Dolphins.
Therefore, elite prospects at positions that are not of need to the Dolphins are not discussed here.
Now, on to the South prospects...
Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and is currently a programming coordinator for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
Career Summary: Despite starting only a handful of games his first two seasons at Texas A&M, Miller earned Freshman All-Big 12 honors in 2007 and totaled seven sacks as a sophomore. He exploded with 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. Facing more double teams a senior in 2010, Miller still managed 10.5 sacks while setting a career high in tackles with 68.
Scouting Report: At just under 6-foot-3 and 237 pounds, Miller is a bit lighter than 4-3 teams would like, which means he could be slated for linebacker in the NFL regardless of scheme. Adding 20 pounds or so would put him at a more versatile weight, but how would that affect his speed and agility as a pass rusher? He's got excellent skills in getting to the quarterback with nice strength, speed, and athleticism. He hasn't been asked to play the run or drop back into coverage much, but he's got the intangibles to learn and all the ability to be a dominant pass rusher.
Fit in Miami? While he's a bit on the small side for a Dolphins' outside linebacker in the 3-4, there is no denying his pass-rushing ability and that is something the team needs more of to pair with Cameron Wake. After strong showing in the week leading up to the Senior Bowl, Miller may have put himself too high to even be considered by Miami at No. 15. I could actually see him going as high as No. 3 to Buffalo, but he's so talented that you have to mention him for the Dolphins if he somehow fell to their pick.
NT Phil Taylor, Baylor
Career Summary: After redshirting as a freshman at Penn State in 2006, Taylor totaled 20 tackles (6.5 for a loss) and three sacks for the Nittany Lions in 2007. He was arrested for assault at a frat party in 2008 and was dismissed from the team. Transferring to Baylor in 2009, Taylor became a two-year starter for the Bears, capping off his career with 62 tackles (seven for a loss) and two sacks as a senior.
Scouting Report: A mountain of a man at 6-foot-3 and 337 pounds, Taylor is a prototypical nose tackle with excellent strength and gap-stuffing ability. He has good technique in fighting blocks and knows how to use his body. He has some character concerns after an arrest four years ago, but seems to have turned things around. With anyone his size, conditioning is an issue, but he carries his weight well.
Fit in Miami? The Dolphins might lose nose tackle Paul Soliai to free agency if he can cash in big with another team after his breakout season in 2010. In that even, Randy Starks may once again move back to nose tackle which he can play well, although he is a better fit at defensive end. If the Dolphins can land a true nose tackle like Taylor in the second round (assuming they trade into it somehow), it'd be a great addition to an already quality defensive line.
OT DeMarcus Love, Arkansas
Career Summary: After redshirting in 2006 and playing as a backup in 2007, Love became a three-year starter during his final years at Arkansas. He suffered a dislocated kneecap in 2007 and an ankle injury in 2008, which caused him to miss time. He played both tackles spots and even some guard for the Razorbacks, earning a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2010.
Scouting Report: The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Love has all the size you look for in an NFL offensive lineman with a good blend of size, strength, and athleticism. He has a great work ethic and has plenty of experience against tough SEC competition. He doesn't always show proper technique, but has the room to learn. He may end up projecting at guard in the NFL.
Fit in Miami? Miami needs serious help at both guard spots, and Love would be an excellent fit inside if he could be had in the second round, should Miami acquire such a pick. He could also eventually play right tackle if Vernon Carey were to move inside or eventually move on down the line.
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee
Career Summary: After redshirting at Tennessee in 2006 and playing sparingly in 2007, Stocker became a three-year starter for the Volunteers. He set a career high with five touchdowns as a senior, and saw his reception and receiving yards totals go up each of his four seasons. He finished his collegiate career with 52 catches for 956 yards and eight touchdowns.
Scouting Report: Stocker is the kind of tight end that doesn't do anything great, but does everything well. He has excellent size at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds with a sturdy frame and good strength. He's a good receiver in the passing game with nice route-running ability. He gives good effort as a blocker but has room to grow in that department. He doesn't have great speed or the athleticism to make many guys miss.
Fit in Miami? The Dolphins could use a top receiving threat at tight end like Aaron Hernandez from last year's draft, but there isn't really such a player in this year's class. Stocker, however, has the talent to grow into a starter, which would be a nice player to pair with a good blocker like Fasano. In tight end-thin class, Stocker may not get out of the second round.
QB Andy Dalton, TCU
Career Summary: Dalton was a four-year starter for the Horned Frogs following a redshirt season in 2006. His production increased drastically over that span, going from a 59.8 completion percentage and 10-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2007 to a 66.1 completion percentage and a 27-6 ratio as a senior. He led TCU to consecutive BCS bowls his final two seasons, capping off his career with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Dalton finished his collegiate career with 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns and was named the WAC's Offensive Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2010.
Scouting Report: Dalton has plenty of experience and led his team into a legitimate BCS contender from an average conference. He has great intelligence and top-notch intangibles with a good work ethic. He's a good decision-maker on the field and is not careless with the ball. He lacks ideal height at only 6-foot-2, but he's got a strong build and has some mobility. He needs more experience in a pro-style offense and his mechanics and footwork could use a little help as well.
Fit in Miami? It's no secret the Dolphins aren't settled on a quarterback, and if they don't get a shot at one of the elite prospects in Round 1, they'll certainly be looking elsewhere. Dalton isn't flashy, but he has the intangibles and skills to develop into a starter if groomed properly. He'd absolutely be a nice pickup in the middle rounds of the draft.
RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
Career Summary: A YouTube sensation coming out of high school, Devine made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2007 with 627 yards and six touchdowns on an 8.6-yard average. He proceeded to top 1,200 rushing yards in 2008 and 1,400 yards as a junior. In 2010, Devine finished the season with 936 yards and six touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 4,317 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground.
Scouting Report: Devine measured in at only 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, which means he really doesn't have the potential to be an every-down back despite his dynamic play-making ability from high school and college. He has blazing speed, great agility, and top-notch athleticism. For his size, he has excellent bulk and is a committed lifter in the weight room. He has some character concerns as the father of two with two different women and has somewhat of a concerning and troubling background. He profiles more as a third-down back and returner at the next level, but has the rare athletic ability to be a game changer.
Fit in Miami? Devine wouldn't solve all the Dolphins' running back problems with every player at the position from 2010 not under contract for next season. He would, however, give the Dolphins a dynamic threat as a third-down back, pass-catcher out of the backfield, and as a returner, making him someone worth looking at in Rounds 3-4 as a guy that could be paired with someone else in the Miami backfield.
ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU
Career Summary: Sheppard redshirted in 2006 and eventually became a three-year starter for the Tigers beginning during his sophomore season. He topped 100 tackles in each of his final two seasons, and capped off his career as a first-team All-SEC selection in 2010 while setting career highs across the board with 116 tackles (11 for a loss), four sacks, and an interception.
Scouting Report: Unlike Ali Highsmith and Darry Beckwith before him, Sheppard has the size to be a starting linebacker in the NFL at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. He's very strong and is a solid tackler against the run. He's played multiple positions and offers some schematic versatility. He lacks ideal speed or athleticism, which could make his best fit inside in the 3-4 scheme.
Fit in Miami? Channing Crowder gave the Dolphins' defense a boost when he returned from injury during the season and he's one of the most vocal leaders on the team, but his play is merely average. Sheppard has the bulk and talent to start inside in the 3-4 scheme and would be a good addition in the fourth round.
SS DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
Career Summary: McDaniel recorded 33 tackles and two interceptions as a true freshman for the Tigers, and went on to start his final three seasons at Clemson. He experienced his best year as a junior in 2009 with 98 tackles and eight interceptions, earning his All-ACC honors. He was an All-ACC selection again as a senior with 73 tackles, four interceptions, and a career-high six pass breakups. McDaniel finished his collegiate career second in school history in interceptions with 15.
Scouting Report: McDaniel has adequate size at 6-feet and 213 pounds with nice strength. He's a hard-hitting safety that plays the run well and also has soft hands in coverage. His speed and agility are limited, which could make him more of an in-the-box safety rather than a coverage guy. He was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and has also had problems with grades, so there are some off-the-field concerns.
Fit in Miami? Yeremiah Bell's play took a step back in 2010, and realistically, the 32-year-old only has another season or two left as a starter in the NFL. His coverage has never been great either, and while that is not McDaniel's strong suit, he could be a nice long-term replacement for Bell as an in-the-box safety. McDaniel is rated by many as the best strong safety in the draft, meaning the Dolphins would probably have to get back into the second round for a shot at him.
OG Lee Ziemba, Auburn
Career Summary: A four-year starter at left tackle for Auburn, Ziemba leaves the school with 52 career starts. He earned All-SEC honors and was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior in 2010, helping the Tigers to a BCS championship over Oregon.
Scouting Report: Ziemba is as experienced a left tackle as you'll find coming out of college with 52 starts as a blind-side SEC lineman. He's a strong blocker with great intelligence and technique. His size is more than adequate at 6-foot-6 and 317 pounds, but he lacks ideal athleticism for the tackle role and his upside is limited there. He many be limited to guard in the NFL due to physical limitations, but he possesses the experience, intangibles, and work ethic to be a quality backup at the very least.
Fit in Miami? The Dolphins could use help at both guard positions, and that is where I see Ziemba fitting in at the next level. I'm an Auburn fan and I've watched the guy for four years, and while he was a good college tackle, he doesn't quite have the tools to handle the NFL's elite pass rushers. He would, however, be a nice fit at guard with adequate bulk and strength. If the Dolphin can get him in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, he'd be a solid addition that could eventually start.
RB Bilal Powell, Louisville
Career Summary: Powell served as a backup for the Cardinals during his first three seasons, totaling 933 yards and eight touchdowns from 2007 to 2009. He emerged as a starter in 2010, earning first-team All-Big East honors after rushing for 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 6.1-yard average.
Scouting Report: Powell measures in at a pretty average 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds, though he does possess the bulk to be an NFL running back. He has a good vision as a back and displays a nice blend of power running and movement. He's a skilled receiver out of the backfield. He lacks a whole lot of experience at the college level and has yet to fully commit his body to a proper workout regimen.
Fit in Miami? Powell is another guy that could help solve the Dolphins' long-term issues at running back. He doesn't have astounding physical skills, but he's a good young running back with plenty of room to grow. He'd be a much better value in the mid-to-late rounds than some of the running backs that will go early and aren't too flashy themselves.