When asked to name the best receiver in this year’s draft class — other than himself, mind you — Kenbrell Thompkins didn’t miss a beat.
“Kenbrell Thompkins,” replied Thompkins, the Miami Northwestern High graduate who played his college ball at Cincinnati.
He wasn’t joking.
A few hours earlier, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin went one better. He didn’t limit his greatness to the wide receiver position. Austin said he was the best all-around player in the entire draft.
If this year’s group of draft-eligible wideouts has half as much talent as it does confidence, the Dolphins should have no trouble finding a playmaking receiver the team so desperately craves.
Thompkins, Austin and roughly a dozen other pass-catching prospects took their turn behind the mic Friday, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Many are also in the process of cycling through the Dolphins’ interview room. Still, the team brass will likely care more about what they do this weekend than what they say.
Wide receiver is the ultimate position of need for the Dolphins, who got just three touchdowns catches from their group in 2012.
And despite what Thompkins and Austin believe, the consensus No. 1 prospect at that position is Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, whose news conference Friday was as well-attended as a White House daily briefing.
“Speed, catching and scoring,” Patterson said, when asked to name his three best attributes. “I expect to be a good rookie and hopefully a Pro Bowler.”
Again, humility isn’t often associated with the receiving position, although Baylor’s Terrance Williams was the rare exception. Williams’ voice barely rose above a whisper Friday.
He is more of a carry-a-big-stick kind of guy. Williams checked in at 6-2, 208 pounds this week, one of several wideouts apparently not afraid of the weight room.
“They’re big and fast,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. “It’s amazing. I was at the weigh-ins here, and I was looking at the receivers, just thinking to myself how much bigger these guys really are.
“It shows you how big that position is getting.”
Like the Dolphins, Kansas City — which owns the No. 1 overall pick — will likely be in the market for a receiver, particularly if the team loses Dwayne Bowe to free agency.
There’s a chance the Chiefs will put the franchise tag on Bowe for the second consecutive season, but Dorsey wouldn’t address that scenario Friday.
“It’s been an ongoing communication with his representatives,” Dorsey said. “We’ve had those discussions for the last couple of weeks. We’ll continue to have those conversations as we get to free agency.”
Likewise, Packers GM Ted Thompson wouldn’t say much about Greg Jennings — another potential Dolphins target — other than saying Green Bay would like to have Jennings back.
Should the Dolphins fail in their bid to land a top-flight receiver — it’s believed their top choice is Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace — the draft will be imperative. That’s why they’ve brought 55 coaches and scouts to town, and given close attention to the group this week that will continue throughout the spring.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin had California’s Keenan Allen draw up plays on the board during an interview.
“The connection was there,” Allen said of his meeting with Philbin.
Thompkins, who is training in South Florida, also huddled with the Dolphins and has been asked back for a visit to the team’s training facility. And Stedman Bailey — who played his high school ball at Miramar before joining Austin at West Virginia — said he will work out at the team’s local pro day, which will presumably be held in early April.
“I’m still on the field; I’m still producing,” said Bernard, who rushed for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012.
Bernard has been invited to participate in the Dolphins’ local prospect day but is undecided on whether he will do so.
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.