A half dozen members of the Dolphins organization — including football czar Mike Tannenbaum — showed up for the University of Miami’s Pro Day on Wednesday, despite a small monsoon swamping the field.
This was no token appearance.
The Dolphins came in with a plan: Get another close look at UM defensive backs Artie Burns and Deon Bush, the two Hurricanes players most likely to be drafted next month.
“Both of those guys looked good, both had good careers,” Tannenbaum said afterward. “They didn’t do anything today that would hurt their situation.”
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While Tannenbaum was of course guarded about the Dolphins’ intentions, the coaches who showed up Wednesday gave the game away. Both defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and secondary coach Lou Anarumo were among those in attendance.
And because of the awful weather, they graded on a curve.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal by any stretch, but a lot of games are going to be played in those conditions, so it’s not bad from an evaluation standpoint to see them,” Tannebaum said. “Obviously, you want to keep those things in mind when you’re looking at ball skills and things like that. That’s the sport we play in.”
Corner and safety are among the Dolphins’ positions of need, and the next big opportunity to upgrade is the draft.
Miami has eight picks, including the 13th overall, and Tannebaum acknowledged that the team’s primary focus for the next five weeks is on maximizing those picks.
Which means the team could wait until then before adding a running back.
Ex-Texans star Arian Foster was at Dolphins camp Tuesday for a visit, but left without a contract. Foster, five months removed from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, still has work to do before he can get on the field.
“It was a good visit,” Tannenbaum said. “Glad he came in, got a chance to know us, and we got a chance to know him. He’s still a little ways away. We’ll still in touch with him and his agent.”
The Dolphins are also in the process of hosting 30 draft-eligible players for private visits. On Wednesday, Tannebaum explained his thinking behind how he uses those coveted spots.
“Chris [Grier, the Dolphins’ general manager] and I talked a lot about it,” Tannebaum said. “When you bring a guy in, what are you trying to clean up? Is there an issue on something that happened before? Is it injury? We’re trying to clarify something. Sometimes it’s someone we have a real interest in, and we want to double check a couple of things.”
The visits also give the Dolphins a head start on recruiting players who go undrafted. It’s a mad free-for-all to sign rookie free agents in the hours after the draft, and any advantage helps.
Just because a player visits doesn’t mean the Dolphins won’t draft him, Tannenbaum added. But they do have a purpose for every player who visits — and it’s almost never to fake out the rest of the league.
“I don’t know if there’s enough hours in a day to play that elaborate game of poker,” Tannebaum said. “Are we concerned about who we bring in for that? Of course, it has to be a factor. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to get the right information.”