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The Dolphins, eager to add multiple defensive tackles through this draft process, recently brought in one who particularly intrigues them: the University of Central Florida’s Trysten Hill, according to a league source.
And according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, they’re also scheduled to host one of the draft’s top defensive tackles, Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, in the coming days.
Simmons tore the ACL in his left knee while doing positional drills in mid-February, and his visit to Dolphins headquarters will allow the team’s doctors to exam him.
Simmons, who is 6-4 and 300 pounds, had 63 tackles, including 18 for loss, and two sacks last season. He has 33 tackles for loss, five sacks and seven forced fumbles in three seasons.
In the wake of his knee injury, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him falling to 28th in his most recent mock draft.
“Simmons might not be picked in Round 1,” Kiper said. “He tore his ACL in February and could redshirt this season. But he’s a top-15 talent.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said of Simmons: “Impressive physical specimen offering rare combination of strength and athleticism for future dominance in a variety of defensive schemes.
“Simmons’ involvement in a fight between two women in 2016 will surely be a cause for concern, but his avoidance of trouble while at college should help his cause. His on-field issues are self-created and largely due to a lack of instincts, but the physical tools and immense upside outweigh those concerns. Simmons has All-Pro potential and should become an early starter and star.”
According to a team source, Hill — like Simmons — is also among the maximum 30 permitted draft prospects permitted to visit Dolphins headquarters.
Hill, 6-2, and 315 pounds, had 36 tackles — including 10.5 for loss — and three sacks for UCF last season despite starting only one game. (It was reported that he was in the new coaching staff’s doghouse.)
He had six sacks, 20 tackles for one loss and one forced fumble in three seasons at UCF. He barely played in UCF’s Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU and turned pro soon after.
NFL.com’s Zierlein projects Hill to go in the third round and said: “He’s the most talented and impactful defensive lineman on the team, but concerns over his football character and maturity have hindered his standing on the team at times.
“Despite starting just once this season, Hill was a gap bandit who disrupted running games and spent time harassing quarterbacks with consistent effort and hustle. He needs to get stronger and play with better control, but his get-off and athletic hands/feet should make him a rotational one-gapper if the maturity and coachability check out.”
ANOTHER LINEBACKER VISIT
The Dolphins brought Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai to team headquarters this week, as first reported by ESPN’s Jordan Schultz.
Here’s at least the fourth college linebacker summoned to Dolphins headquarters in the past three days, joining BYU’s Sione Takitaki, Maryland’s Tre Watson and Idaho’s Kaden Elliss. All four count among the team’s “30” visits, which are never announced by the team.
In his senior season, Tavai — who’s 6-3 and 295 pounds — was suspended for the season opener due to a June arrest on an assault charge at a Honolulu night club and then missed the final month of the season with a shoulder injury.
Tavai had 82 tackles (including 5.5 for loss), two sacks, a forced fumble and blocked kick in eight games last year. He had 128 and 124 tackles the previous two seasons and finished his college career with 41 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks and two interceptions in four seasons.
NFL.com’s Zierlein projects him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick and said: “While the level of competition wasn’t always noteworthy, his impact production was. In a draft that is heavy on undersized, uber-productive linebackers, Tavai offers an NFL frame, good play strength, an aggressive demeanor and almost 10 tackles per game over the last three seasons.
“He’s not overly explosive, but his decisiveness and motor are play traits that should serve him well as a pro. He could be a good three-down backup who could develop into an eventual starter inside.”
MONTGOMERY CANCELS VISIT
Veteran free agent running back Ty Montgomery, who was scheduled to visit the Dolphins on Friday, instead agreed to terms with the Jets after visiting there Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Montgomery, the Packers’ third-round pick out of Stanford in 2015, played his first 3 ½ seasons with Green Bay, finishing his Packers tenure with 177 rushes for 849 yards (a 4.8 average) and seven touchdowns while catching 97 passes for 827 yards and three touchdowns. He was moved from receiver to running back early in the 2016 season.
In a Week 8 game last season, the Packers were losing 29–27 with 2:05 left in the game when Montgomery returned a kick from the end zone and fumbled. The ball was recovered by the Rams, who held on to win. Montgomery reportedly had been instructed to take a knee on the kick return.
Two days later, Green Bay traded him to Baltimore for a seventh-round pick. He ran 15 times for 93 yards in six games for the Ravens (a 5.5 average) and caught 10 passes for 65 yards.
The Dolphins are looking to add running back depth behind Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. They signed Kenneth Farrow from the defunct Alliance of American Football this week.
Among other running backs on last year’s Dolphins roster, Frank Gore and Senorise Perry signed with Buffalo and Brandon Bolden signed with New England.