Fins at 50: Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino discusses his legacy and regrets
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ If you’re among dozens of college players who will interview with the Dolphins at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, here’s a tip to get off on the right foot: You better know who Dan Marino is.
Apparently, not everyone does — which is no longer totally shocking because the Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback retired in 2000.
“It’s interesting when people come in and they meet [new coach Brian Flores] and Dan Marino,” general manager Chris Grier told John Congemi for the team’s web site. “If guys don’t know Dan Marino, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if this guy knows football.’”
In his role as a special adviser, Marino, for the past several years, has participated in Dolphins interviews with draft prospects. He also attends the Senior Bowl and assists the organization in several ways, including watching film, attending quarterback meetings and offering input.
Meanwhile, Grier plans to place more stock in what he witnesses off the field than on the field at the Combine.
“It’s the old Parcellism, Underwear Olympics,” Grier said, referring to his former Dolphins boss, Bill Parcells.
“People fall in love with guys that work out well in shorts when nobody is hitting them,” Grier added. “For me, it’s the interview process, that’s very important for us to make sure we get the right types of people in the organization, to find out their level of maturity, intelligence and how they interact with people. The hard part today with kids is everyone is on their cell phones and nobody knows how to communicate with people.”
▪ Grier was thrilled to add former Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie as a senior personnel executive.
“Reggie was a bonus,” Grier said. “When Reggie was let go in Oakland [last season], I called him two days after and said, ‘Hey, ‘you did a great job. You guys were in salary cap hell and you drafted maybe a guy that’s going to be a Hall of Famer [Khalil Mack] and a couple of all pros.’ I told him, ‘I always respected you.’
“I said if you ever want to get back in, we would love to have you. I told Brian we might have an opportunity to bring him aboard and he was interested. I was flattered when he told us he had three or four offers and wanted to come here.”
▪ Good to see former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison get a job as cornerbacks coach on the Kansas City Chiefs’ revamped defensive staff.
Madison was an assistant coach at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas last season and a studio analyst on WFOR-CBS 4’s Dolphins studio coverage. Madison will work under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
▪ Pro Football Focus rates two Dolphins among the top 50 impending free agents — Ja’Wuan James at 21 and Cam Wake at 50.
“So many teams are simply looking for consistency at tackle and James brings that,” PFF said. “His lowest pass-blocking grade over the past four seasons is only 67.3, which is far from liability territory. Injuries are a concern as just one of those four years was a full season, but he has plug-and-play ability at right tackle.”
If the Dolphins move on from James, keep in mind that the draft has at least six offensive tackles considered worthy of a first- or second-round pick.
▪ Daniel Jeremiah, who is essentially replacing new Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock as NFL Network’s lead draft analyst, spoke in colleague Adam Beasley’s piece about the appeal of Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell for the Dolphins. A few other things he said, from an offensive standpoint, that are meaningful from Miami’s perspective:
Miami, which wants to fortify its offensive line with young building blocks, should be able to find help. “Offensive line-wise, while there’s not a premier guy, somebody that’s a Top 5 lock that we’ve seen in some previous years, I think it’s a really, really good group, especially once you get to the middle of the first round probably all the way to the middle of the 3rd and around the 4th round range, really good offensive line,” Jeremiah said....
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier didn’t exactly wow the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, according to one source, and Jeremiah said Grier is “kind of more in that middle-round range. He does not have kind of a ‘wow’ trait. He’s a good all around player, but there’s just nothing that’s going to wow you in terms of an arm strength standpoint, ability to really kind of create, which we’ve seen become a little bit more important at that position recently. And then really kind of nit-picky, but to me, he took a lot of sacks when you watch him. I just want to see him be a little bit more decisive and get the ball out of his hand.”
▪ Jeremiah on some defensive draft topics relevant to Miami: Though some project Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat as a top eight pick, Jeremiah could see him slipping to the mid teens. “That’s how you want to draw up a defensive end, and that’s what you want him to look like,” Jeremiah said.
“You can watch the Auburn game, he just completely takes it over in terms of just abusing that tackle. He’s got big-time get-off and burst. Now I wish he would get a little bit stronger in the run game.” Keep in mind that new defensive line coach Marion Hobby has said the Dolphins will prioritize run stopping and pass rushing equally from their defensive ends. Among prominent d-ends who could be available at No. 13, “with Sweat you get a little better athlete; with Ferrell you’re going to get a little more power, a little more strength and a little bit better against the run,” Jeremiah said. ....
If the Dolphins trade down slightly from 13, Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons — who sustained an torn ACL recently — could be justified as a pick in the mid to late teens, Jeremiah said, adding “he’s a top-5 player in this draft, no doubt. To me, he’s one of the three best players in the whole draft.”...
If the Dolphins trade back into the 20s, Jeremiah sees FSU’s Brian Burns, Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson and UF’s Jachai Polite as edge rushers in that range... Among defensive tackles, he sees Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence available in the 20s, with Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery, Arkansas’ Armon Watts, UM’s Gerald Willis and Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones the best defensive tackles after that...
And what should the Dolphins do if the player considered the draft’s best cornerback, LSU’s Greedy Williams, slips to 13th? It isn’t so clear.
“Greedy Williams was tough for me, maybe one of the — literally I would say if not the toughest, one of the three toughest evaluations for me in the whole draft because I see the height, I see the length, I see the ball skills and the overall athleticism, which I really, really like,” Jeremiah said.
But “against the run, he hasn’t been good. He’s a liability against the run. So not having kind of that physicality, a little bit more of an edge to him, that’s my concern as well as some of that kind of short-area explosiveness. Those would be my two areas of concern with him. And really you talk to teams around the league, they’re all over the map. There’s some teams that view Greedy as the no-doubt top corner, and there’s some teams that have him buried. So he’s a pretty polarizing player.”