Miami Dolphins: 5 Prospects to Watch at the Senior Bowl
Miami Dolphins: Prospects to Watch at Senior Bowl
The Super Bowl is still almost two weeks away, but preparation for May's NFL Draft is already in full swing. The Senior Bowl, which begins with practice in Mobile, AL. on Monday afternoon, serves as an excellent measuring stick for draft hopefuls.
Scouts and front office executives from every NFL team, including the currently GM-less Miami Dolphins, can evaluate some of the nation's top prospects against some of the nation's top prospects. It's an especially telling week for those future rookies who faced questionable competition in college.
Perhaps most importantly, it's one final chance to assess these athletes with pads on, where hitting and full-speed blocking is allowed. In the months leading up to the draft, headlines will be dominated by what transpires in workouts in which many players wear nothing but spandex. Said workouts are helpful when evaluating attributes like straight-line speed, short-area quickness and overall athletic ability, but they won't be able to decipher how well a particular prospect plays the actual contact sport of football.
The Dolphins enter the week without a GM in place as of Monday afternoon, but there's a strong possibility that their hire will be present at the practices out of obligation to his current employer. Miami also has a scouting department in place, led by acting GM Brian Gaine, who is also a candidate for the real job. Whatever happens during the week will still be monitored by the team. Collaborating with the new GM will just likely have to happen at a later date.
There are many prospects that the Dolphins will have their eyes on throughout. Here, I condense that list to five.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.
5. Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota St.
Billy Turner is an example of a small-school prospect who will have the opportunity to show he's more than just the product of poor competition when he takes on some of the top prospects in the country at the Senior Bowl. The Dolphins desperately need offensive line help, and Turner could be someone they target as early as the second round in May.
He has a nice combination of athleticism and toughness that Miami will be seeking in its attempt to remodel the offensive line to better fit head coach Joe Philbin's zone-blocking scheme. Some suggest Turner should kick inside to guard at the next level, but guard is also obviously a need for the Dolphins.
4. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are scheduled to hit the open market this offseason for the Dolphins, and in all likelihood only one of the two will be retained. Although Starks is an every-down player and had more of an impact in 2013, he has more mileage with 10 accrued NFL seasons compared to Soliai's seven. If Soliai is resigned and Starks walks, like many expect, then the Dolphins could be on the lookout for a penetrating defensive tackle come May.
Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald has the explosiveness and motor Miami will covet in its effort to potentially replace Starks. He's a bit undersized, but has shown the ability to compensate with effort and technique. Donald would likely cost the Dolphins a second-round pick, though.
3. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Despite the emergence of Charles Clay in 2013, the Dolphins could still use a big body tight end who is capable of becoming a weapon for quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the red zone in addition to being a reliable in-line blocker.
The 6-foot-6 C.J. Fiedorwicz would potentially fit the bill in one of the middle rounds for the Dolphins. Fiedorwicz has the versatility Miami is missing at the position, but may need a solid Senior Bowl and pre-draft workout to cement his status as a day-two pick.
2. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
The Dolphins' offensive line was one of the league's worst at opening up holes for its running backs in 2013, but Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas still left much to be desired when opportunities to make plays presented themselves. With that said, Miami will likely target a running back at some point during the draft.
West Virginia's Charles Sims is considered the top tailback at the Senior Bowl and is a player the Dolphins should do their homework on. He might be the most versatile runner of the class, with solid speed and quickness to go along with the size and toughness to grind out yards between the tackles. He also possesses excellent hands and runs crisps routes out of the backfield. Take a look at Sims' highlights from this past season.
1. Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame
Zack Martin started at left tackle -- an obvious need for the Dolphins -- during his time at Notre Dame, but most scouts are projecting him to be a better pro at guard. Regardless of where Miami envisions him upon hypothetically selecting him, Martin is a prospect the team will likely pay close attention to throughout the week.
He seemingly lacks the height and arm length to match up against the league's premier pass rushers on the outside, but has the quickness, strength and toughness to play on the interior. It would likely be an adjustment for Martin, but there's no reason why he won't be under consideration to potentially fill a need at either guard spot when the Dolphins' new GM weighs his options on day one of the draft.