Miami Dolphins

This intriguing linebacker prospect is a game-changer. Just ask the Miami Hurricanes

Clemson's Dorian O'Daniel, No. 6, recovers a fumble by Miami's Jeff Thomas, No. 4, as Clemson's Ryan Carter, No. 31, closes in during the second half of the ACC Championship.
Clemson's Dorian O'Daniel, No. 6, recovers a fumble by Miami's Jeff Thomas, No. 4, as Clemson's Ryan Carter, No. 31, closes in during the second half of the ACC Championship. AP

There are two ways to fix an undisciplined team.

Coach better.

Or get more disciplined players.

Maturity was a huge problem for the Dolphins in 2017, from the penalties (137, second-most in football) to the brawls (Jarvis Landry might have imperiled his future in Miami with his meltdown.

So a housecleaning might be in order.

But that will only work if the players acquired are more mature than the ones sent out the door.

A suggestion: Consider Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, who made no waves despite being buried on the depth chart for his first three years on campus.

O’Daniel, one of the top linebackers to accept an invitation to participate in next week’s Senior Bowl, led the Tigers in special teams tackles in both 2014 and 2015 before finally getting snaps on defense as a redshirt junior.

Still, O’Daniel knew he needed to return for a fifth year.

It was the smart play. He went from a footnote to one of the best football players in the country. And he was a finalist for the Bobby Bowden Award, which is given to the player who epitomizes the consummate student-athlete.

In short, O’Daniel gets it.

And he can really play. The Butkus Award finalist had pick-sixes against Louisville and Virginia Tech and recovered a fumble in the Tigers’ ACC Championship victory over the Miami Hurricanes.

O’Daniel, 6-1, 220, is listed as an inside linebacker on the Senior Bowl roster, but some scouting services project him to play on the outside. Certainly, he has the build and the game to be a 4-3 weakside linebacker — which the Dolphins could use.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about the Fins' bizarre season and Jarvis Landry's ejection after their final game of the season, a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Kiko Alonso was a disappointment in 2017 after signing a big contract extension, and while it makes no financial sense for the Dolphins to move on from him this offseason, there’s no chance Alonso is a Dolphin in 2019 unless he plays much better this year.

O’Daniel probably would not be a consideration when the Dolphins pick at 11 — Georgia’s Roquan Smith, a junior, is the more likely candidate — but certainly is an option in the later rounds.

The best of the rest headed to Mobile next week:

Ohio State Buckeyes’ J.T. Barrett, No. 16, throws while under pressure from USC Trojans’ Uchenna Nwosu, No. 42, during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 29, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Ohio State won 24-7. Ron Jenkins Getty Images

▪ Uchenna Nwosu, Southern Cal, 6-2, 240: Is he a linebacker or is he a defensive end? Nwosu has the build as a 3-4 ’tweener, and the Dolphins run a 4-3.

Still, he has to at least get a look from Dolphins scouts next week; the All-Pac 12 selection is the fourth-best outside linebacker in the draft, according to

Nwosu is a physical, try-hard player who had 9 1/2 sacks and 11 1/2 tackles for loss his last year on campus.

Alabama's Rashaan Evans (32) sacks Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game in Glendale, Ariz. Evans, the star of Alabama's injury-depleted group, has had a big season on the field and graduated off it. He's also shined in the past two national title games. Chris Carlson AP

▪ Rashaan Evans, Alabama, 6-3, 235: This would be a no-brainer Dolphins target in 2018 — if they had not drafted Raekwon McMillan in 2017. McMillan, the Dolphins’ second-round pick, missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL.

On paper, he and Evans have a lot in common — perhaps too much in common. Still, Adam Gase and Nick Saban go way back, and maybe the Alabama coach can convince his former pupil that you can never have too many physical linebackers.

Evans was second-team all-conference as a senior. He is projected to play in the middle as a pro.

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) sacks Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during the second half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game on Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. John Bazemore AP

▪ Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida, 6-1, 223: How can you not root for Griffin? He was the feel-good story of a feel-good UCF season.

Griffin lost his left hand as a child. And yet, he was the most dynamic defensive player on college football’s most surprising team this year. Griffin was an absolute monster in the Peach Bowl, recording 12 tackles, including 3 1/2 for loss, in a shocking win over Auburn.

▪ Others to watch: Skai Moore, South Carolina, 6-2, 218; Micah Kiser, South Carolina State, 6-3, 235; Davin Bellamy, Georgia, 6-5, 245.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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