Barry Jackson

Mayfield, Allen present interesting question for Dolphins

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with the Golden Hat Trophy following the team's 29-24 win over Texas in an NCAA college football game in Dallas. Baker Mayfield is the AP player of the year, becoming the fourth Oklahoma quarterback to win the award since it was established in 1998.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with the Golden Hat Trophy following the team's 29-24 win over Texas in an NCAA college football game in Dallas. Baker Mayfield is the AP player of the year, becoming the fourth Oklahoma quarterback to win the award since it was established in 1998. AP

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

• It would be surprising if the Dolphins select a quarterback 11th overall in the first round of April’s draft, but they’re certainly not ruling it out.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, asked specifically about drafting a quarterback in the first round, said: “We’ve said we’ll always take the best player on our board. I’ve talked from Day 1, we’ve talked about the J.J. Watt thing. At (defensive) end we have (Cameron) Wake and whatever; but if J.J. Watt’s on the draft board and we’re picking, we’re not going to pass on J.J. Watt because at defensive end we feel good about. Every position, it doesn’t matter – quarterback, tackle, defensive tackle, everything’s wide open for us.”

Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen likely will be long gone before Miami picks 11th.

But it’s quite possible that two other quarterbacks — Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — could go in Miami’s range. And former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville could be available on the second day of the draft, analysts say. Allen says he is turning pro; Mayfield is a senior and Jackson hasn’t said if he’s turning pro.

A quick update on all three:

1) Allen: Mel Kiper ranks him third among quarterbacks and 11th among all draft-eligible prospects. McShay has him third and 15th.

Kiper: “Allen is raw, but he can really sling it. ... I think Allen’s numbers will be much better in an NFL offense with NFL players.”

McShay: “He has an elite arm and frame and can make every throw. The postseason process will be key for him.” 

2) Mayfield: Kiper has him fourth among QBs and 13th overall. McShay has him fourth and 27th.

Kiper: “I love him on the field — he’s not afraid to take shots downfield, and he has an underrated arm — but his size is going to be a question until he gets in front of scouts at the Senior Bowl or the combine.”

Head Coach Adam Gase, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier, left to right, talk to the media during a Miami Dolphins press conference at the Baptist Health South Florida Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.

McShay: “The issue for him is that he doesn’t have the ideal measurables of an NFL starter, and he doesn’t have an elite trait to compensate, like Russell Wilson’s scrambling ability or Drew Brees’ accuracy.”

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com quoted an NFC coach as saying this about Mayfield: “If he measures under 6 feet [at the combine], that’s going to make it tough for a lot of people to get on board. There’s just not a lot of track record of guys at that size having success. But at the same time, you’re going to be afraid of missing the next Russell Wilson, because what you have here is leadership and competitiveness on a unique kind of level.”  

As for Jackson, Kiper has him seventh among QBs and not in his top 25. McShay has him seventh and 88th overall.

Kiper said: “From the NFL scouts I’ve talked to, I think teams are going to ask Jackson to work out as a quarterback and a receiver. They want to see if he could make the transition if he didn’t develop enough as a QB.”

The Dolphins are committed to Ryan Tannehill as their starter in 2018. But they’re not opposed to adding another young quarterback, too.

But unless they absolutely fall in love with Allen and Mayfield (if they’re available at 11), I would be surprised if they go quarterback at No. 11. They have more pressing needs than quarterback, and this team must be better in 2018 (for front office job security and other reasons). Miami doesn’t have the luxury to draft a player at No. 11 who wouldn’t play as a rookie.

Damien Williams
Miami Dolphins Damien Williams (26) runs for a large gain in the first quarter as Senorise Perry (34) cheers him on in a November game against Tampa Bay. Williams hopes to return next season. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miaiherald.com

• Damien Williams, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, told two reporters (including me) that he very much wants to return to Miami and the Dolphins know that.

“I’m confident this is where I want to be,” he said. “They understand that. This is where I want to be.”

Last season, Williams declined to sign the team’s $1.8 million tender until May. “I don’t even remember last offseason,” Williams said. “We’re all good. I’m all good.”

The Dolphins want him back at the right price. Williams had 202 combined yards in three games starting after the Jay Ajayi trade before a shoulder injury that sidelined him the remainder of the season. 

• Gase said this week he plans to evaluate himself as a coach.

“That’s going to be something that’s going to be probably on the front burner for me,” he said. “I’m going to want to do that. I know I spend a lot of time with these two guys [Grier and Mike Tannenbaum] and they’re not shy about telling me when I screw up. I’m sure I don’t handle it well at first, but I usually come around.”

• Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum suggested enormous changes aren’t needed: “We’re going to have to tweak some things; but overall, I believe in where we’re going. We’re going to have to make some decisions like every organization; but our sport is set up where we can get this thing turned around. A year ago we won 10 games. We’ve got to learn what went wrong this year and try to get a better product on the field (next) year….

“We’re going to continue to be opportunistic. I think Chris and the personnel guys, if you look at it during the season, we continued to try and go add a guy like an A.J. Derby. That might not be noteworthy or headliner; but he may contribute for us for another year or two. [Owner] Steve [Ross] is constantly challenging us, ‘How can we get better?’ We’ll continue to be opportunistic and look outwards as well, but just talking about as much as we can within reason, we want to keep our own.” 

• The Dolphins are very pleased with Ndamukong Suh, who is in line for a contract restructure to create more cap space.

“He’s been a pro,” Tannenbaum said. “He’s played well. He helped us win a bunch of games, helped us get to the playoffs a year ago. I appreciate everything he’s done. He’s a hard worker, does everything he’s asked and he does extra in terms of preparing himself for games.”

• PFF’s final rankings for Dolphins offensive linemen:

Mike Pouncey 28th of 36 centers

Jermon Bushrod 65th, Jesse Davis 66th, Anthony Steen 68th and Ted Larsen 70th of 82 guards

Ja’Wuan James 17th, Laremy Tunsil 48th, Sam Young 49th of 87 tackles....

One other quick item: Miami signed speedy receiver Francis Owusu to a futures contract. Undrafted out of Stanford last year, Owusu spent the offseason and training camp with Miami before being waived with an injury settlement on Aug. 18. He averaged 14.2 yards on 34 college receptions. He joins UM’s Malcolm Lewis and Arkansas’ Drew Morgan as developmental receivers signed to futures contracts by the Dolphins.

Please click here for my Heat post from Thursday, with lots of news and some eye-opening numbers on Kelly Olynyk’s emergence.

Please click here for my UM post from Thursday, with information on how the Canes are trying to fill their need at defensive end, and UM’s incoming players making an impression this week.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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