2011 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins Pre-Draft Workout Roundup
Between March Madness at work and moving over the weekend, I've been way too busy (and often without internet) to write about all the draft prospects slated to work out for the Miami Dolphins in the coming weeks.
Because the names have piled up so high, I'll going to briefly hit on the names I haven't mentioned or covered yet, rather than devote entire articles to each!
Here is a list of the players drawing interest from the Dolphins that I've previously touched on, with links to my articles on their coverage:
- OL Byron Bell, New Mexico (interest)
- OLB Ricky Elmore, Arizona (private workout/interview/film study 3/14)
- QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri (private workout, TBD)
- QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (private workout, March)
- WR Terrence McCrae, Ohio (private workout at Pro Day, March 10)
- QB Cam Newton, Auburn (private workout, TBD)
- QB Josh Portis, California (Pa.) (private workout at QB/WR, 3/22)
- OG Will Rackley, Lehigh (private workout, 4/5)
- OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona (visit and/or private workout, TBD)
- TE Julius Thomas, Portland State (attended Pro Day, 3/14)
- TE D. J. Williams, Arkansas (private workout, March)
I've also put up a new page on the blog solely for compiling and listing the prospects the Dolphins have worked out or met with, which you can view here.
Now, on to the 24 new names of workout prospects!
Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
C Colin Baxter, Arizona (private workout, TBD)
A highly-recruited guard from California, Baxter switched to center after his freshman season with the Wildcats. He went on to start 49 of 50 contests played in four seasons, second-team All-Pac-10 honors each of his final two seasons.
Measuring in at 6'3" and 311 pounds, he lacks the athleticism to play another position in the NFL and doesn't quite have the pro potential to match his high football I.Q. He is regarded as a late-round prospect or potential undrafted free agent, where he could draw interest from the center-needy Dolphins.
CB Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech (private workout, 3/30)
A two-year starter for the Hokies, Carmichael capped off his four-year career with 40 tackles, four interceptions, 11 pass deflections and one defensive touchdown during his senior season in 2010.
Carmichael primarily profiles as a Cover-2 cornerback, lacking elite great ball skills or elite cover ability. He has good speed and some tools to work with, however. The Dolphins are primarily set at cornerback, but could consider him in the middle or late rounds as a special-teamer.
QB Andy Dalton, TCU (private workout, March)
A four-year starter for the Horned Frogs, Dalton steadily improved each of his four seasons. He finished his career with 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns, capping off his senior campaign with a a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
The two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year stands 6'2" and weighs 215 pounds. He lacks ideal size and physical tools, but he's an excellent game manager with an adequate arm and the kind of leadership you look for in an NFL quarterback.
Dalton's stock has been all over the map since the college football season ended, with some saying he's a mid-round prospect and ESPN's Trent Dilfer guaranteeing he will be taken in the first round.
While he may not come off as an elite prospect, Dalton is extremely well-rounded and probably one of the safer quarterbacks in the draft. The Dolphins are likely to take someone to develop and compete with Chad Henne early in the draft, and Dalton could be targeted in the late first or second round in the event of a trade down.
OLB Keith Darbut, Baldwin-Wallace (private workout, 3/24)
A defensive end at Division III Baldwin-Wallace (Oh.), Darbut excelled during his four-year career, racking up 15.5 sacks in his final two seasons and earning All-OAC and All-American honors as a senior in 2010.
While the small school prospect is pretty far off the draft radar, his production can't entirely be ignored. He's also created a buzz this offseason by running a 4.38 40-yard dash in workouts.
Baldwin is still pretty lean at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, but he has the room to add on muscle and convert to a 3-4 outside linebacker. He's not really a candidate to hear his name called in April, but he could be an intriguing undrafted free agent candidate.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn (private workout, 3/27)
Never establishing himself as a feature back at Auburn, Fannin split his collegiate career between running back and wide receiver. He finished his four-year career with 1,366 rushing yards, 985 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.
Fannin (5-11, 231) has a nice blend of size and speed, posting an impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Fumbles and injuries plagued him in college and his best years may very well be ahead of him, but he classifies as a borderline draftable prospect that would only interest the Dolphins late in or after the draft.
G/C John Gianninoto, UNLV (private Workout, 3/26)
An Arizona native, Gianninoto started his final two-and-a-half seasons at center for the Rebels. He posted a 4.98-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and measured in at 6'3" and 297 pounds.
Gianninoto is a classic college center that has the work ethic and brains but is somewhat lacking in talent. He's pretty athletic but not all that strong and lacks a whole lot of upside. He's a borderline late-round prospect that would more likely interest the center-needy Dolphins after the draft.
TE Virgil Green, Nevada (private workout, 3/30)
A three-year starter for the Wolf Pack, Green earned second-team All-WAC honors as a junior and first-team honors as a senior in 2010. He finished his career with 71 catches for 911 yards and 11 touchdowns and averaged 15 yards per reception as a senior.
Measuring in at 6'3" and 252 pounds, Green is an excellent receiving tight end and has the speed to stretch the field down the seam. The Dolphins are expected to target Green's quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, early in the draft, and could look for Green in the third or fourth rounds as well.
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (Fla.) (private Workout, TBD)
After early struggles in his collegiate career, the light came on for Hankerson in his junior season after training with former Dolphins standout Mark Duper. He ranked fifth in the ACC in receiving yards with 773, and broke Michael Irvin's single-season school record for receiving touchdowns with 13 as a senior in 2010.
The 2010 first-team All-ACC selection has the ideal blend of size (6'2", 209) and speed (4.4) you look for in a starting NFL receiver, and understandably has been rising up draft charts since his senior season ended.
The Dolphins landed Brandon Marshall in the 2010 offseason, but could still look at the local product Hankerson as a No. 2 receiver. However, he is likely to be selected in the late first or early second round, and thus a trade would be necessary.
OL Rodney Hudson, Florida State (private workout, TBD)
Hudson capped off his collegiate career with his fourth straight All-ACC selection and unanimous first-team All-American honors. He started 47 consecutive games for the Seminoles on his way to becoming the most accomplished offensive lineman in school history.
While he doesn't have huge size at 6'2" and 291 pounds, Hudson plays with great technique and athleticism and certainly has adequate strength. His size would likely prevent the Dolphins from being interested in him as a guard, but he could be a target at center in the second down if the team can orchestrate a trade.
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama (private workout, 3/28)
Easily one of the most dominant running backs over the past few seasons, Ingram left Alabama after three seasons with numerous school rushing records already in hand. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner left the Crimson Tide with 2,386 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns.
An athletic, compact running back in the mold of Emmitt Smith, Ingram (5'9", 215) is widely regarded as the top back in this year's draft class, and rightly so. He has all the tools to be a productive NFL starter and should excel behind a good offensive line.
That being said, he doesn't possess the elite, play-making quality to make him worth the Dolphins selecting at No. 15. The Dolphins are likely to explore trading down to re-acquire a second-round pick, and there is simply no reason to use such a high pick on a running back when the real problem is the team's offensive line.
Even with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown headed for free agency, the Dolphins would be much better suited looking elsewhere in round one and picking up one of the many quality running back prospects in the middle rounds.
RB Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington(private workout, TBD)
After redshirting in 2007 and playing cornerback in 2008, Jones exploded as Eastern Washington's starting running back as a third-year sophomore in 2009. He earned first-team All-Big Sky honors and third-team All-American honors with 2,345 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jones continued his strong play as a junior in 2010, rushing for 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns before suffering a foot injury that forced him to miss the team's final two games. He once again earned first-team All-Big Sky honors, conference offensive player of the year honors, and was an All-American for the second time.
Opting to leave his FCS school before his senior season, Jones has been recovering from the foot injury suffered in 2010 and thus has missed some pre-draft workouts. When healthy, he's an extremely athletic and fast running back with home run ability on offense and as a returner.
While his durability is a concern, Jones is someone that could be excellent paired with a complementary, "between-the-tackles" back. The Dolphins have been lacking playmakers on offense in recent years, and thus could look at Jones in the middle rounds of the draft.
RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois (private workout, March)
A two-year starter at running back for the Fighting Illini, Leshoure rushed for 734 yards and five touchdowns as a junior on his way to honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. He exploded on the scene as a junior in 2010, racking up 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns on his way to becoming a first-team All-Big Ten selection and second-team All-American.
Following in the footsteps of former Illinois great Reshard Mendenhall, Leshoure opted to forego his senior season and enter the 2011 NFL Draft. While this year's class of running backs might have a lot of good but no great prospects, Leshoure is closer than anyone in giving Mark Ingram a run for his money as the best player at the position.
Leshoure has a great blend of size and speed and really has everything you look for in a starting NFL running back. He has an outside chance to crack the first round, but is sure to come off the board by the time the second round is in the books.
The Dolphins are looking to trade down in the first round and acquire a second, meaning they will have multiple chances to at least consider Leshoure to fill their running back vacancy.
WR Ricardo Lockette, Fort Valley State (private workout, TBD)
A former 100-meter champion, Lockette experienced mild success as a receiver and return specialist at Fort Valley State, catching 23 passes for 262 yards and averaging 24 yards per kickoff return in 2010.
Lockette has the size (6'2", 211) and speed (4.3) that make NFL scouts drool, but he's extremely raw and is more of a track athlete than an NFL receiver at this point.
While he has the tools to be a playmaker in the NFL and is sure to intrigue the offensively-challenged Dolphins, his inexperience and looming development won't make him a realistic option until the later rounds of the draft.
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (private workout, 3/29, and two-day visit, Apr. 15-16)
After transferring from Michigan in 2008 and sitting out the season, Mallett spent two seasons starting for the Razorbacks as one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. Between his junior and senior seasons, Mallett totaled 7,493 passing yards and 62 touchdowns against just 19 interceptions.
Despite easily being the best pure passer in the draft, Mallett is regarded by many as a prospect not worthy of a first-round pick. Rumors of drug use and personality concerns have plagued his pre-draft process.
Regardless, Mallett has all the tools you look for in an elite passer and has the arm and field-reading ability to lead an NFL team. I for one have been a fan of Mallett's play for a few years now, and believe the Dolphins will consider Mallett at both No. 15 or later if they trade down.
WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee (private workout, TBD)
Moore started his final two years at Tennessee, becoming just the seventh Volunteers receiver in school history to surpass 2,000 yards receiving. Overcoming inconsistent head coaching and quarterback situations, Moore led the Vols with seven touchdowns as a junior, and averaged 21 yards per reception for 981 yards and nine scores in 2010.
While he lacks muscle and blocking ability, Moore is an extremely well-round prospect. He offers soft hands, good speed, crisp route-running, and has the ability to stretch the field before and after the catch.
The Dolphins are in the market for a vertical threat to pair with Brandon Marshall, and a receiver like Moore is just the kind of prospect they are looking for. He could be a bargain for Miami in the middle rounds of the draft.
G/T Matt Murphy, UNLV (private workout, 3/26)
An impressive four-year starter at left tackle for the Rebels, Murphy opened 45 games to close out his collegiate career. He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors each of his final two seasons.
Murphy is a poor man's Lee Ziemba (Auburn) in the sense that his college resume as a four-year starter on the blind side doesn't translate into great NFL prospects. Lacking elite athleticism, strength, and ability, Murphy is an extreme long shot to be drafted and is likely to move inside to guard once he signs with a team.
OT Derek Newton, Arkansas State (private workout, TBD)
Transferring from Hinds Community College (Miss.) and redshirting in 2008, Newton became one of the Sun Belt's best offensive lineman in two years for the Red Wolves. He started at right tackle in both 2009 and 2010, earning second-team all-conference honors as a junior and a first-team selection as a senior.
While he didn't always face elite competition, Newton (6'4", 311) performed extremely well at Arkansas State and has the tools to develop in the NFL. He has the size and athleticism you look for, and could be groomed as a right tackle or guard in the NFL if he refines his technique.
The Dolphins are in the market for two starting NFL guards and potentially a long-term replacement for Vernon Carey at right tackle, so they could look to Newton in the middle rounds of the draft. However, he seems unlikely to be able to contribute as a rookie, and the team might be wary of starting another rookie at guard after 2010 third-rounder John Jerry's struggles last season.
QB Christian Ponder, Florida State (private workout, March)
A three-year starter for the Seminoles, Ponder improved steadily during his time at Florida State. His numbers increased dramatically between his sophomore and junior seasons, as his completion percentage jumped from 55.7 to 68.8 and his interception total fell from 13 to seven.
Ponder capped off his career with 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns against just eight interceptions despite missing two games. He finished his career with 6,872 yards and 49 touchdown passes.
A player that should be widely regarded as one of the safest quarterback prospects in the draft, Ponder brings quality short accuracy, great intelligence, and sound decision-making to the position. His durability is a bit of a concern and his arm strength is widely regarded as average, but he possesses enough tools to be an NFL starter.
The Dolphins are certainly in the market for a quarterback early on, and Ponder's stock has risen to the point where it's not out of the question he goes in the late first round. However, some might say Ponder is a bit Chad Pennington-like in his intelligence and arm strength, so the question is whether or not he possesses the potential to be a truly elite NFL quarterback rather than just a good one.
RB Bilal Powell, Louisville (private workout, TBD)
A late bloomer at Louisville, Powell didn't become the Cardinals' starter until the 2010 season. When he did he impressed tremendously, rushing for 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior on his way to first-team All-Big East honors.
Powell's durability is a concern after multiple hamstring injuries prior to the draft, and he's yet to show he can carry the load long-term with just one season of a starter's share of carries. However, he possesses all the strength, speed and athleticism, combined with good vision, to be a quality NFL running back.
If the Dolphins don't address running back on the first day of the draft, they will almost certainly look to add a rusher in the middle rounds. Powell is one of many quality prospects that should be available on days two and three, and should draw the interest of the running back-less Dolphins.
C Ryan Pugh, Auburn (private workout and dinner, 3/27)
After starting his Auburn career at left tackle in 2007, Pugh moved inside to center and became a three-year for the Tigers. He earned second-team All-SEC honors as a junior in 2009, and excelled his senior season with first-team All-SEC honors, a third-team All-American selection and a national championship.
Listed at 6'4" and 297 pounds at Auburn, Pugh actually measures in at just 6'1". He doesn't quite have the NFL talent his college resume might indicate, and his strength and athleticism aren't what you're looking for in a professional starter.
The Dolphins are in desperate need of a center, but Pugh isn't likely to be drafted and has a long way to go to make an impact in the NFL. He's an undrafted free agent candidate only.
OLB D'Aundre Reed, Arizona (private workout at Pro Day, 3/14)
Overshadowed by fellow 2011 draft prospects Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore at Arizona, Reed spent most of his collegiate career as a backup defensive end for the Wildcats. In four seasons, he racked up 83 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, and six sacks, four forced fumbles.
Measuring in at 6'4" and 260 pounds, Elmore has good athleticism and runs in the 4.7 range in the 40-yard dash. His technique could still use some work, he can be a bit late off the snap and is susceptible to the run, and he may have to transition from end to 3-4 outside linebacker.
Reed is a better prospect that his college production would indicate, and he has the physical tools to be an end or linebacker in the NFL depending on the scheme. The Dolphins, who have looked to the Arizona program before, could target Reed in the later rounds to develop as a pass rusher.
OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri (private workout, TBD)
After redshirting in 2008 as a true freshman, Smith exploded into the Big 12 scene in 2009 with 64 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, and a school record 11.5 sacks, earning him freshman All-American honors and the conference's Freshman of the Year award.
Smith continued his strong play in 2010, overcoming a leg injury that kept him out of three games to record 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks on his way to a first-team All-Big 12 selection.
Despite only playing two seasons, Smith declared for the 2011 NFL Draft following his redshirt sophomore season and is poised to be picked sometime in the first round. He has the ideal size (6'4", 263), athleticism, and pass-rush ability for a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker.
The Dolphins are surely to try and trade down from the No. 15 spot, which is around where they'd have to be if they wanted to select Smith. He's one of the best pass rusher prospects in this year's class and would certainly be worthy of the Dolphins' pick if they stay put and view outside linebacker as a big enough need.
QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (private workout, 3/30)
After splitting time during his freshman season in 2007, Taylor became a three-year starter for the Hokies and ended up breaking many of the school's passing records. He finished his career with 7,017 yards and 44 touchdowns to go along with 2,187 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. With 24 passing touchdowns against just five interceptions a senior, Taylor was a firs-team All-ACC selection and named the conference's Offensive Player and Player of the Year.
While Taylor had a tremendous collegiate career as one of the best quarterbacks in school history, his pro prospects are a bit uncertain. He's extremely athletic and has an adequate arm, but his mechanics and footwork need a lot of work and he lacks ideal size for a quarterback. He is also adamantly opposed to moving to running back or wide receiver, which could be a motivational issue if teams don't deem him a good enough signal caller.
The Dolphins tried and failed to draft a wildcat quarterback in Pat White, and there's no guarantee the wildcat will be as prevalent in Miami with offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee out of the picture. Taylor is an intriguing athlete and a quarterback prospect worth developing in the middle rounds, but he's probably not the franchise quarterback the Dolphins will be looking for in April.
RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech (private workout, 3/30)
After redshirting in 2008, Williams took advantage of Darren Evans' torn ACL to put on a monster season in 2009 with 1,655 yards on a 5.6 average and 21 touchdowns on the ground. He earned the Offensive MVP award in the team's Chick-Fil-A Bowl win and was named a first-team All-ACC selection and the ACC's Rookie of the Year.
Nagging injuries hampered Williams 2010 season, as he appeared in 10 games and rushed for just 477 yards with nine touchdowns. With two years of eligibility remaining, Williams opted to leave Virginia Tech and enter the 2011 NFL Draft.
A top-five running back prospect in this year's class, Williams (5'9", 212) has all the tools to be a starting running back in the NFL. He doesn't have one standout feature, but he has good inside rushing ability despite average bulk and has more than adequate speed. He has the vision and natural rushing style you look for.
Like so many other prospects, Williams will certainly be on the Dolphins' radar come April with zero running backs currently under contract and a whole new backfield likely needed for 2011. Williams is probably going to come off the board sometime in the second round, so a trade down from No. 15 to re-acquire a second-round pick will probably be necessary.
ILB ILB Martez Wilson, Illinois (private workout, TBD)
After spending the 2007 season as a backup, Wilson became a starter for the Fighting Illini in 2008 and recorded 73 tackles and three sacks. A herniated disc forced him to miss the 2009 season, but be rebounded during his 2010 campaign to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors after racking up 112 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, four quarterback hurries, four pass breakups, an interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
The best pure inside linebacker prospect in this year's draft class, Wilson (6'4", 250) has good speed and athleticism to go with excellent tackling ability. He stock may have fallen a bit after his March Pro Day, where many scouts were reportedly disappointed with his instincts and performance in position drills.
Based on pure ability, Wilson is a strong candidate to go in the second round of the draft. Should the Dolphins trade back into that round and have the chance to draft him, he'll garner strong consideration as a potential long-term upgrade over Channing Crowder.