Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins move into draft mode: Players being studied Friday

Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier, Head Coach Adam Gase and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum are focusing on the April NFL draft now.
Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier, Head Coach Adam Gase and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum are focusing on the April NFL draft now.

The surest sign the Miami Dolphins have moved out of free agency intensive mode and into draft mode can be seen around the team’s building Friday.

Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum? He’s not at team headquarters in Davie, Florida.

General manager Chris Grier? He’s not at the training facility in Davie.

Head coach Adam Gase? He’s not there, either.

No wonder the Dolphins aren’t bringing in back-end free agents for visits and haven’t done so the past few days. The club’s braintrust would not even be around to meet and greet.

And where that braintrust is Friday tells you where the club’s mindset is as well. Tannebaum and Grier are at the University of Michigan Pro Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan today.

Grier was at the Ohio State Pro Day in Columbus on Thursday and the Dolphins were also represented at the Notre Dame pro day.

Gase is not at the pro days. He’s already in Arizona in advance of the NFL annual meeting that begins Sunday in Phoenix.

The point is while Dolphins fans and other observers might be studying free agency lists to see who gets signed next, or wondering the status of linebacker Zach Brown or defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, the Dolphins are more crisply focused on their college scouting and draft plans.

The offseason has indeed progressed to focusing mostly on the draft.

The club can still make free agency moves if Brown or Hankins suddenly agree to contracts or even a visit in Hankins’s case. But that would happen only at a price much closer to the team’s set budget for the vacant linebacker and backup defensive tackle spots than the players’ salary desires.

Brown already visited the team facility and would be the more likely addition than Hankins, because the defensive tackle’s aagent has held firm on wanting a multi-year, big number ($6-$8 million per year) deal.

Brown has visited multiple teams and his decision is said to be between the Oakland Raiders and Dolphins, although neither team has shown a desire to meet Brown’s original asking price -- believed to be in the $6 million per year range.

The Dolphins attending pro days in Ann Arbor Friday and Columbus Thursday is not surprising. All NFL teams were represented.

But these two are of particular interest because they offer possibillities at positions the Dolphins need to fill with young talent.

Michigan today offers a look at a dozen players who all might be drafted. The Dolphins are particularly interested in bolstering their defense during the draft and are locked in on edge rushers (defensive ends), linebackers and cornerbacks. In other words, practically the entire defense.

On display today in Michigan are safety Jabril Peppers, safety Delano Hall, safety Raymonte Thomas, cornerback Jourdan Lewis, defensive end Taco Charlton, defensive end Chris Wormley, defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, and even tight end Jake Butt.

Yes, offensive line heads, there are guards to see as well: Guards Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden.

In Columbus on Thursday there was plenty of defensive talent but much of that will be gone before the Dolphins are scheduled to pick at No. 22 in the first round of the April draft.

Safety Malik Hooker, cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are widely respected. Hooker did not work out at the pro day as he’s recovering from an injury.

Linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Craig Fada also were present.

It is unlikely the Dolphins will have any free agent player visits early next week as the team’s football braintrust -- Tannenbaum, Grier and Gase -- will be in Phoenix until Wednesday for the NFL annual meeting.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero