Two Miami Hurricanes Looking to Produce for the Miami Dolphins

By Craig Ballard

The sunny State of Florida is a football factory. The University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of Miami have been providing the NFL with legit players for ages.

In the 2000’s the Miami Dolphins have had good success drafting Gators from Florida. Mike Pouncey (2011) is currently their starting center, and Channing Crowder (2005) had a few good seasons. Dolphins have not have quite as much success with Florida State products. Running backs Travis Minor (2001) and Lorenzo Booker (2005) did not give the Dolphins much at all. The only Hurricane drafted by the Dolphins in the 2000’s was o-lineman Vernon Carey (recently released, but served Dolphins well)

The 2012 draft brought two Hurricanes to the Dolphins (you actually have to go back to 1991 to see the last time the Dolphins drafted a pair of Hurricanes). Third round draft pick Oliver Vernon is a 6’2″ 260 defensive lineman who may struggle to fit in if the rumor is true that Miami is switching from the 3-4 defense, to the 4-3. Vernon’s 2011 was a nightmare. He was one of the many Hurricanes punished for his illegal involvement with booster Nevin Shapiro. Once he returned from his 6 game suspension he was a shell of what he had looked like the previous season. Many felt Vernon was a guy who needed to return to school for his Senior year to get some seasoning. in particular to work on his pass-rush technique.

When on/motivated Vernon shows a good motor, and good speed off the edge. He also showed in college an ability to shoot the gap. Good pad-level vs the run, but poor pad-level vs the pass (often gets stood-up and negated in pass-rush situations). A tad undersized (potentially anyway) but long arms and active/aggressive hands shed would-be blockers vs the run. Too often in college his poor technique vs the pass would lead to resorting to a bull-rush which (at 260 pounds) is not likely to be successful vs NFL offensive lineman. Vernon will get a chance in preseason to show that his poor 2011 was more to do with circumstances, rather than a season that exploited his shortcomings.

On the offensive side of the ball former Hurricane Lamar Miller was selected in the fourth round. Miller has tools. This young man is going to produce at the NFL level, question is how soon. Miami has a potentially crowded backfield, but Miller has the size, speed, and agility (not to mention skills) to be a RB that contributes on the NFL stage. In fact his speed and agility remind many of another former University of Miami product Clinton Portis (likely even faster and more agile than Portis). Miller seems to be born to run the football. He is not careless with the ball. He holds the ball close to his body, and is very adept at switching hands. At the NFL level surely improvements need to be made in order for Miller to get the amount of playing time that his potential warrants. Pass blocking, for example, is decent-at-best currently. His ability to produce once he hits the corner is already very good, but he needs to improve on running up the middle.

In the west-coast offense Miller’s pass catching ability will be an asset. As he improves we will see pass plays called for Miller out of the backfield. He will see time as a 3rd-down RB so he will be available as a legit check-down option for the ‘Phins QB as well.

Miller played a long time with a banged-up shoulder, but showed toughness through that. Miller is a guy who actively fights for extra yards. Not great change of direction, but Miller is a tough tackle every time. His 4.40 speed will help earn him playing time as a kick returner too.

Right here, right now, I see Oliver Vernon as a rotation player. I see Lamar Miller as a legit NFL contributor.

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