Barry Jackson

Dolphins spend time with Watt; Landry talks pending; Miami’s 2017 opponents

Former Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt watches during the Wisconsin's Pro Day Wed., March 15, 2017, in Madison, Wis.
Former Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt watches during the Wisconsin's Pro Day Wed., March 15, 2017, in Madison, Wis. AP

The Dolphins, on the lookout for front seven help, were scheduled to work out Wisconsin linebacker/defensive end TJ Watt in the past several days, the player told in advance of the workout.

Here is analyst Lance Zierlein’s assessment of Watt, who is the brother of Houston Texans star JJ Watt:

“It wasn't easy for Watt to get on the field his first couple of seasons with the Badgers, redshirting as a tight end in 2013 and losing the following season with a right knee injury. Watt then tore up his left knee during spring practice in 2015, having surgery but returning to play as a reserve linebacker in all 13 games (eight tackles, 1.5 for loss). Finally healthy in 2016, he won a starting job and excelled, garnering second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors with 63 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 11.5 sacks.”

STRENGTHS: “Produced at high-end level with just one season of full-time football. Has desired length for the edge with room to accommodate more size. Attacks blockers with early arm extension and utilizes push-pull technique to upset their balance as his pet move against run and pass. Outstanding hand play in his game. Disruptive as first man in on twists. Always ready to leap into passing lane and deflect the throw. Strikes fast and early to create leverage points. Rarely has helmet involved in play and is constantly searching for the ball. Understands art of quick disengagements and can flatten out against outside run. Has good agility to clear trash near his feet and pursue the ball. Functional in space when asked to cover. Can get skinny when shooting gaps and has decisiveness and pursuit quickness to crash down the line and close-out cutback lanes. Consistent, wrap-up finisher as tackler.”

WEAKNESSES: “Not overly twitched-up as an athlete. Short strider who lacks explosion out of stance and up the field to bend the edge as a pass rusher. Foot quickness is average and needs to win with technique and great hand play. Won't generate enough acceleration to crank up speed-to-power rush with consistency. Plays with a narrow base. Needs to play with more consistent bend to play through redirection by offensive line. Will have to add power in his base to hold point of attack against tackles. Pass rush menu will need more options against NFL tackles.”

BOTTOM LINE: “A long-limbed effort rusher who posted impressive numbers against the run and pass in just one year as a starter. He is a tireless worker who pursues from snap to whistle and his brother, J.J., will be a tremendous resource for technique and pass-rush plan. While he is unlikely to win a race to the edge, he's a plus run defender who can get to the quarterback with plus hand work and relentless effort.”

One AFC scout told Zierlein: "He looked a lot stronger and a lot more confident on tape this year. He needs to get bigger, but he's already a strong guy. I can see him standing or playing base end for a 4-3 team. He's going to keep getting better."

Todd McShay has Watt going 41st. Mel Kiper has him 58th. The Dolphins pick 54th in the second round.

• The Dolphins flew to Waco, Texas for a private workout with Baylor center Kyle Fuller. Though the Dolphins remain committed to Mike Pouncey, they are aware they need a plan if his hip continues to hinder him in his career.

Fuller possibly “could become an eventual starter based on his attributes,”’s Lance Zierlein said.

• Among small school players that the Dolphins have shown interest in: Alabama State running back Marquell Beckwith.


• The Dolphins have told Jarvis Landry they want to keep him beyond the expiration of his contract this season but have not begun serious talks on an extension or given any indication when those talks might begin, according to a team source.

But Landry is handling all of this very maturely and has no intention of holding out. He has a very good bond with Adam Gase, who has told Landry how much the team values him, and that relationship has grown even stronger this offseason.

NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, who owns a piece of Pro Football Focus, this week called Landry the NFL’s “most dangerous slot receiver.”

Landry’s 856 receiving yards from the slot last season led the league, well ahead of No. 2 TY Hilton (745).

• The NFL schedule comes out at 8 p.m. Thursday and the league already has established that Miami will host Denver, Oakland, Tampa, Tennessee and play New Orleans in London.

The Dolphins will visit Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Miami also will play AFC East opponents New England, Buffalo and the Jets both at home and on the road, of course.

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