Welcome to the start of the 2019 NFL Draft. The first round begins at 8 p.m. and the rumors and late nuggets are coming in hot.
The latest on the Miami Dolphins:
While the team has been connected to multiple quarterbacks within the draft, including Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Duke’s Daniel Jones, the Dolphins are very serious about possibly trading for Josh Rosen should the Arizona Cardinals make their 2018 first-round selection available via trade.
The Dolphins are so serious about this they have talked to the Cardinals about the possibility, according to a club source.
It’s unclear how far that conversation went or when it happened, but it demonstrates Miami is indeed interested in a quarterback it was not interested in during last year’s draft — especially not in the first round.
It’s possible the fact Miami would not be investing a first-round pick on Rosen if he’s available — unlike last year — plays a significant part in the team’s calculations.
As a reminder: Rosen would only become available if the Cardinals pick Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray with the first overall selection. That team probably would not carry both Murray and Rosen into the regular season.
But the Cardinals do not intend to conduct a bargain sale for Rosen, according to NFL sources. They want value in return for a possible franchise quarterback — albeit one who only threw 11 TDs and 14 interceptions his rookie year.
It is unclear how far the Dolphins are willing to go to acquire Rosen.
The common thinking has been the Cardinals would like at minimum a third-round selection for Rosen.
Onto other matters:
So I’m on record as wanting Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns. After I wrote that he seemed to be very similar to Jason Taylor coming out of school — and I covered that 1997 Dolphins draft for the Miami Herald — I got a cryptic text from someone in the Dolphins personnel department.
“Burns is not JT,” the text read.
With respect, I’m not saying Burns is going to be so accomplished that I will be presenting him before Hall of Fame voters, as I did Taylor, when his career is over. I’m not predicting a Hall of Fame career for a player who hasn’t taken one NFL snap.
But I see similarities.
I see explosion.
I see heart.
The size factor is obvious with Burns coming in at 6-foot-5 and 249 pounds. Taylor was 6-6 and 242.
I see Burns has ability to both attack the QB and drop into coverage. And I remind you the year Taylor won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he played outside linebacker for Nick Saban in a 3-4 scheme.
I see a versatile player who, granted, needs to improve his strength. Because right now, Burns is mostly a speed rusher, an around the edge guy. He needs to be able to bull rush or he won’t maximize.
But last I saw the guy, his upper body is shaped like a V. He’s closing in on 250 pounds. So bigger than Taylor.
And I get it, the Dolphins might be wary of picking Burns because Charles Harris hasn’t produced. That pick is looking more dubious with each passing season. And Harris is an undersized guy.
But Burns is more explosive than Harris. Way more.
They are not comparable.
My next favorite player for the Dolphins is Florida offensive tackle Jawan Taylor.
He’s nasty. He plays a position of significant need. He is willing to be coached, based on what I’ve heard — an important attribute for a player who isn’t quite NFL ready.
I like Taylor way more than, say, Alabama’s Jonah Williams.
Williams is smart. He’s dedicated. He’s like a coach on the field. He’s a technician.
But Taylor is going to be a better right tackle in three years while Williams might be playing guard. Both are good prospects. Taylor has the higher ceiling.
Finally, it initially seems curious the Dolphins have been tied to three different Clemson defensive linemen by different sources and mock drafts.
Why, I wondered? And then I recalled that Dolphins defensive line coach Marion Hobby coached at Clemson in 2005. And then he returned to the school in 2011. And in that second stint, he remained until 2016 as the team’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach.
So there’s a connection.
Hobby obviously has close ties to the school. He obviously can get information on these players. The Dolphins should know as much, if not more, about Lawrence, Wilkins and Ferrell as any NFL team.
The three players, interestingly, are totally different.
Lawrence is a mountain at 6-4 and 342 pounds. He seems destined to be a nose tackle in a 3-4.
Wilkins is way more versatile and it’s not just about his 6-3 and 315-pound frame. He projects as a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end, so if the Dolphins were to jump in and out of different fronts, he could remain on the field.
Wilkins is quicker than Lawrence although perhaps not as strong. Wilkins seems better able to get upfield better while Lawrence is very good at stalemating offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage.
Ferrell is 6-4 and 265 pounds and is a great young man. Really grounded kid, from what I’ve been told.
His gift is he has “great hands,” according to scouts. That means he wins with technique and the ability to shed blocks. Multiple people have called him a New England Patriots-type player.
And, I assume, that makes him a Miami Dolphins type player because coach Brian Flores is copying the New England defense in Miami.