The Dolphins are bringing a well-regarded Auburn cornerback and a versatile California offensive lineman to their headquarters as part of their 30 permitted pre-draft visits, according to league sources.
Jamel Dean, who is visiting the Dolphins this week, had two interceptions and nine passes defended as a junior for Auburn last season before turning pro.
And he then helped himself by running a 4.3 at the NFL Combine, best among cornerbacks and second best among all participants. That could elevate him to the second or third round, and Dean said he believes he could sneak into the first round.
“Well, a lot of people said I made a lot of money after running that 40 and just my performance in the Combine in general,” Dean said.
Dean, 6-2, originally signed with Ohio State out of high school in Cocoa, Fla., but was not permitted to play because of multiple knee injuries he sustained in high school. He sought a second opinion from renowned doctor James Andrews, who said he only needed to strengthen his quad muscles. Dean then transferred to Auburn, where he sustained a knee injury that sidelined him all of the 2016 season.
But he overcame all of that adversity and was healthy and effective for Auburn the past two seasons. In 2017, he allowed just a 38.1 percent completion percentage when targeted.
Last season, he allowed just 40.5 percent of passes to be caught against him, including just one touchdown, while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 49.1 passer rating.
“In terms of Dean, with the size you just wonder about the guys who change direction downfield, if he’s fluid enough to hold up,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “If not, maybe he’ll move inside [to a slot corner role], but I think he’s going to test out very well. He’s got the size. I think he can handle the physicality of receivers down the field; he showed that at Auburn.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said “Dean’s combination of height, weight and speed will get the conversation started off in the right direction for NFL evaluators, but there is no way around the fact that multiple knee surgeries will be a cause for concern in those same circles. His length and ability to disrupt catch space is a big plus in his favor and he has the athletic ability to play in a variety of coverages. However, he needs more consistent competitiveness and better technique for the next level.”
Dean’s visit will allow the Dolphins to examine his knees; he previously has had surgery on both of his ACLs.
“At one point, I thought I was never going to play football again,” Dean told AL.com at the NFL Combine. “Now I’m out here living my dream, and I’m getting closer to the NFL. I just feel like everything is falling into place now.”
Meanwhile, California guard/tackle Patrick Mekari will also be among Miami’s “30” visits. A potential third day pick, Mekari can play all positions on the offensive line. He missed Cal’s bowl game to have a bone spur removed, and the Dolphins can use his visit to check on his health.
Here’s the Dolphins preseason schedule, which includes a surprise and some good news, plus all of the preseason games on network TV.
Here’s my piece on the Dolphins signing seven AAF players.