Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins linked to familiar name in draft

Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) before the start of the game as the University of Miami takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wed., Dec. 28, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) before the start of the game as the University of Miami takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Wed., Dec. 28, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Some Dolphins notes on a Wednesday afternoon:

• ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Dolphins picking a familiar name - UM tight end David Njoku - with the 22nd pick in his latest mock draft.

“Njoku comes with loads of upside, thanks to rare athleticism for the position and big-play ability, including 16.2 yards per reception,” McShay said on ESPN.com. “There's not much of a gap between Njoku and Alabama's O.J. Howard for the No. 1 TE ranking. Both Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are set to be free agents for the Dolphins, so the fit would make sense for Njoku to stay in Miami.”

The view here: Njoku would be very tempting, but linebacker and defensive end must be the priority - and I sense it is - if there’s a top player available at either position at No. 22.

UM tight end David Njoku right after Russell Athletic Bowl talks about his decision to enter draft. 12-28-16

What’s more, Dion Sims said that Adam Gase informed him that Miami wants him back and views him as a starting tight end. “He told me he wants me back as a No. 1,” Sims said.

Nevertheless, the Dolphins are expected to add another tight end beyond Sims (presuming he re-signs) and MarQuies Gray. And Njoku will be studied closely.

• Pro Football Focus, in its annual rating of 101 players, has Cameron Wake 45th and Ndamukong Suh 52.

On Wake, PFF says: “Cameron Wake’s performance coming back from a torn Achilles was scarcely believable. The Dolphins had benched him heading into this season, as they expected him to need easing back into his role on defense. By Week 6, however, they had put him back in the starting lineup, and he only got better with more snaps. Wake was one of the league’s best pass-rushers in 2016, despite returning from an injury that is as brutal as they come in terms of robbing players of explosive power.”

On Suh, PFF says: “Unfortunately for Suh, his performance for the Dolphins will always be judged against the shadow cast by the monster contract he signed, and not in a vacuum. Since arriving in Miami, though, he has put together back-to-back seasons that have been as good as anything he had in Detroit, and has been consistently strong as both a run defender and pass-rusher. This season, he posted career highs in tackles and batted passes, recorded 43 defensive stops (third among interior defenders), and missed just one tackle all year.”

• As the Dolphins continue internal deliberation, there’s definitely some support internally for keeping defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who has a $4.5 million cap hit if he’s on the team, $500,000 if he’s not. His motor and leadership are valued.

We’ll see how this turns out, but Mitchell definitely has his advocates in the building.

• With assistant coach Jim Washburn having left the Dolphins, Miami is interviewing former NFL player Andre Carter for its assistant defensive line coaching job, Sporting News NFL writer Alex Marvez reports.

Carter 80.5 sacks in a 13-year career than ended after the 2013 season. Carter spent the 2015 season as a student assistant coach at his alma mater Cal, according to Marvez.

• Not even a classic Super Bowl could boost Miami’s lagging NFL ratings. More than 50 percent of homes with TV sets watched the Super Bowl in each of 24 large cities and more than 40 percent watched in 30 other cities, including West Palm Beach (48.3). Among 56 major markets, only two cities fell below 40 percent: Salt Lake City (38.6) and last-place Miami (37.8).

Please see my page here for two Heat posts this afternoon from Milwaukee, where the Heat goes for its 12th win in a row today, and a bunch of UM nuggets from last night, including another top QB visiting.

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