Barry Jackson

Dolphins audition Canes but one key one is missing

The Dolphins held their annual local day for South Florida prospects and there was one notable absence:

Gerald Willis, the talented defensive tackle expected to be a second-day pick in April’s draft.

But Willis had a valid reason for not going to the group workout: He had conflicting private visits with other teams, including one with the Dallas Cowboys.

But he might visit with the Dolphins on another day, which is permitted.

Those workouts of local players do not count against the 30 permitted players that NFL teams are allowed to bring to their headquarters before the draft.

Willis would fill a need at defensive tackle, a priority position for Miami.

The Dolphins’ list of visitors Friday was expected to include a bunch of Canes, including Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine, Travis Homer, Tyler Gauthier, Trayone Gray, Darrell Langham, Michael Smith and Tyree St. Louis.

It also included FIU and FSU prospects as well as NFL prospects from other colleges who attended high school in South Florida, a lengthy list including New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks (from Miami LaSalle), Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker (from Miami Northwestern), Grand Valley State linebacker Tyree Horton (South Dade High) and West Virginia left tackle Yodne Cajuste (a potential third-rounder who was Big 12 co-offensive lineman of year).

And then there’s the story of Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who decided to take the initiative to visit Dolphins offices on his own on Tuesday, then posted a photo on one of his social media accounts.

The Dolphins have high regard for Clemson players; they drafted Cordrea Tankersley two years ago (he hasn’t yet panned out and had knee surgery last fall) and are eying Clemson’s three first-round caliber defensive linemen as options in this draft.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said Mullen is a “long press-corner who can clog up the release but is more reactive than instinctive in coverage. Mullen can be a little inconsistent in anticipating route breaks, which can open small throwing windows, but his loose hips and response burst helps him latch back onto tight coverage. If Mullen can improve pattern recognition and reading the quarterback, the ball production should follow. He has Day 2 draft talent as an outside corner and could compete for a CB2 spot within a couple of years.”

Mullen, 6-2, had an interception and two sacks last season.

Even with five tight ends on the roster, the Dolphins are still spending a lot of time with tight ends in the draft process, including Delaware’s Charles Scarff and Texas’ Andrew Beck.

As we reported last weekend, the Dolphins on Friday auditioned former Utah and ex-Washington Huskies quarterback Troy Williams, who was Rivals.com’s No. 1 dual threat quarterback in the 2014 class.

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