Miami Dolphins: Potential 2018 NFL Draft Targets

Josh Allen of the Wyoming Cowboys is one of the most intriguing smaller-school quarterback prospects since, well, Carson Wentz. Watch the video below. Seriously.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

DAVIE — Dolphins general manager Chris Grier says he doesn’t want to have the 11th pick in the NFL Draft.

Neither does coach Adam Gase or executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum. Yet, here they are. And they cannot miss.

Miami has so many needs: tackle or guard, tight end, linebacker, running back and corner or safety.

Of course, the wild card is quarterback. It’s always going to be quarterback.

If Gase and Grier and his staff are of the firm belief that Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield is very likely to be able to quickly deliver something of a much higher caliber than Ryan Tannehill, they must pull the trigger.

Of course, it seems more likely Miami would go for a quarterback they also like in Rounds 2-4 and fill a more desperate need in the first. That said, it’s about that time to look at some of the players now projected to be available in that area of the first round.

In January of 2017, we did this exercise, and correctly linked Missouri defensive end Charles Harris (Miami’s first round pick) and Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan (second round pick) among 12 players to watch.

In fact, we also correctly assigned Harris to Miami with the 22nd pick in our first mock draft in March of 2017. Hey, a bit of luck never hurts. But so too, does just using common sense. Miami really needed an heir apparent to Cam Wake. They hope they found that man in Harris.

Here are 14 players we figure to be talking a lot about in the next 100-or-so days before the NFL Draft:

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia — Speed. Play-making. Speed. Play-making. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama — Unlikely to be available, but if he is, send it in. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame — So hard to take a guard so high, but, he’s legit brute. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame — Elite size and technique; can play LT or RT. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Connor Williams, OT, Texas — Solid, safe pick if offensive line is clear top priority. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming — Unmatched arm; could develop behind Tannehill for 1-2 years. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

• Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State — Speedy cover corner could be lock down answer. VIDEO HIGLIGHTS

Derwin James, S, Florida State — Speed and power. Could provide DB versatility. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama — If Miami does not re-sign Landry or trades DeVante Parker. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma — So, this would be fun, huh? VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama — Can cover the entire field. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU — Perfect physical compliment to Kenyan Drake. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma — Replaces Ja’Wuan James at a big savings. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville — Explosive, athletic South Florida native. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

[RELATED STORY: Top 10 Miami Dolphins Offseason Priorities]

In the past 7 years, here are the players who have gone 11th overall in the NFL Draft:

• 2017: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (Saints)

• 2016: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Bucs)

• 2015: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (Vikings)

• 2014: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (Titans)

• 2013: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (Chargers)

• 2012: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis (Chiefs)

• 2011: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin (Texans)

Miami Dolphins need NFL Draft Gems in Rounds 4-7 like Davon Godchaux

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Free agents? NFL Draft? A look at what Dolphins need on offensive line

Mike Pouncey will be around, but who else will the Dolphins stack on their offensive line in 2018? (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Nothing is less thrilling than the idea of the Dolphins drafting another offensive lineman, or scouring free agency for one, but all the flash and flair of Adam Gase’s offense won’t matter if they don’t get this right.

The frustration in 2016 was that the line they sketched out and liked coming into the season couldn’t stay healthy. Injuries were less of an issue this season, and that prompts the question of whether this group is good enough.

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil and center Mike Pouncey are two certain bricks in the wall for next season. The rest of the unit is up for a redesign.

The Dolphins have guard Ted Larsen locked up cheaply for the next two seasons and they’re high on breakout starter Jesse Davis at guard or tackle.

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, a mainstay on the line since Miami drafted him 19th overall in 2014, is the one most in jeopardy of being shuffled out. The team activated a $9.3 million option for 2018 prior to this season, but it’s only guaranteed if he’s injured.

James went on Injured Reserve after hurting his hamstring in November and would theoretically be healthy by the time free agency rolls around in March. That gives the Dolphins a way out, and they can consider moving Davis into his spot.

James, 25, will be in demand if he hits the open market. He’s got 47 career starts, and Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 15 tackle in the league this season after having him 32nd the year before. Miami moving on from him would likely have more to do with money than anything else. He would currently be the seventh-biggest salary cap hit for next season.

That said, Gase wasn’t exact glowing when he discussed James’ play leading up to being shelved.

“Ja’Wuan’s had some really good games, and then he’s had some games where I’m sure he would say he wished he would have played a little better,” he said. “Pouncey’s the only one I can say every game, I’m seeing a lot of things that are good.”

When pressed to at least confirm that James was improved from the previous season, Gase gave a tepid response of, ““I think he’s had some games that were head and shoulders better than any games that he had last year. There were probably about three games that I can say that were really, really outstanding.”

Beyond those five, have developmental projects in tackle Eric Smith, guard Isaac Asiata and tackle Zach Sterup. They can also bring back veteran back-ups Sam Young (six starts at right tackle last year), Anthony Steen (six at guard) and Jake Brendel (16 games).

Jermon Bushrod was also a fixture on the line the last two seasons before injuring his foot in November. He considered retirement after 2016 and said recently he is undecided on whether he’ll try to return for a 12th NFL season.

Once the Dolphins settle on what they believe are the reliable pieces of the o-line for 2018, they can explore help via free agency in March and the draft in April.

If the Dolphins take an offensive lineman at No. 11, it will be the fourth time in eight years they’ve done so. That, along with some massive financial commitments, makes it all the more maddening that it remains an issue.

One of the best offensive linemen in this year’s draft is Notre Dame product Quenton Nelson, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds and could be the missing piece at left guard. Miami could move Larsen to right guard, which he wants, and go with Davis at right tackle.

The free agency crop will fluctuate based on who gets released over the next month or so, but some of the current options at guard are Seattle’s Luke Joeckel, Washington’s Shawn Lauvao and Cincinnati’s Andre Smith. Those guys are likely going to outprice the Dolphins, leaving them to consider the draft or an in-house solution.

[Possible Dolphins 2018 NFL Draft target Baker Mayfield cleared for NFL Combine]

[What does Las Vegas think of the Dolphins’ chances in 2018?]

[Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry is headed to the Pro Bowl]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins need NFL Draft Gems in Rounds 4-7 like Davon Godchaux

Davon Godchaux was an excellent find by Chris Grier in Round 5. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

It was obvious to Miami Dolphins coaches, executives and scouts when they met with LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux before the last NFL Draft, that he was a player they felt would fit well, if available in the mid-to-late rounds.

“He’s probably the only player that I can just vividly remember his combine interview,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said in December. “When he kept sliding, he just kept staying right at the top of our board. We were just waiting. I know the scouts and (Dolphins general manager Chris) Grier, they loved him. We were just waiting until the right time.”

And so with the 178th pick overall, in the fifth round, the Dolphins selected Godchaux.

And it was clear from the first day of training camp, this was an excellent pick by Grier and his scouting staff.

“He’s been exactly what you want a guy to be, especially for a young guy,” Gase said. “I don’t know how many times you’ve seen a rookie be a captain for a game. I think it’s just the consistency that he’s had and the fact that he always does everything you ask and he does it right. I don’t think there’s a guy. There’s not many guys that can challenge him with the energy he plays with. Every down he’s on the field, he gives you everything he has.”

In a recent press conference, Grier was asked about the pressure and responsibility that comes with having the 11th overall pick. Of course, it is critical. Of course Miami must select a player who will make an impact, ideally immediately, but in the worst case, long-term.

But these NFL general managers (Grier is about to run his third draft after nine years as director of college scouting) really separate themselves by identifying players who aren’t so obvious, in rounds 4-7. If you can find a quality starter, you’ve hit a home run.

Godchaux was the 11th defensive tackle drafted in 2017. Godchaux played in 15 games, made 5 starts, and recorded 40 tackles.

Miami may have found their long-term partner for Ndamukong Suh, and they did it in the fifth round. In Godchaux’s case, his availability was perhaps due to an off-field incident (he was not charged) or because he’s only 6-foot-3.

It doesn’t matter why a guy slides. Grier and his staff must identify the ones who can overcome any deficiencies (through natural talent, innate work ethic and ability to take coaching) and be capable contributors. Even the ones drafted late.

So, who are some later-round guys Miami has hit on since Grier became Miami’s director of scouting in 2007?

2015 — CB Bobby McCain, Memphis, Round 5 (145 overall)

2015 — RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State, Round 5 (149 overall)

2015 — WR/CB Tony Lippett, Michigan State, Round 5 (156 overall)

2014 — DL Terence Fede, Marist, Round 7 (234 overall)

2013 — TE Dion Sims, Michigan State, Round 4 (106th overall)

2012 — RB Lamar Miller, Miami, Round 4 (97th overall)

2012 — WR Rishard Matthews, Round 7, (227th overall)

2011 — TE Charles Clay, Round 6, (174th overall)

2010 — S Reshad Jones, Round 5, (163rd overall)

2009 — WR Brian Hartline, Round 4, (108th overall)

2007 — DT Paul Soliai, Round 4, (108th overall)

2007 — P Brandon Fields, Round 7, (225th overall)

Note: In the 2018 NFL draft, Miami has two picks in the fourth round, one pick in the sixth round and two in the seventh round.

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2018 NFL Draft: Possible Dolphins target Baker Mayfield clear for Combine

Baker Mayfield should be at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine over the next two months. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins should be able to get as much of a look at draft prospect Baker Mayfield as they want over the next three months. Mayfield is a possibility for them at No. 11 overall and he’ll be on the field at the Senior Bowl in two weeks.

He’s also expected to be at the NFL Combine, and the significant news on that front is that the NFL not bar him from participating based on his February 2017 arrest for public intoxication and resisting arrest, among other charges. That incident resulted in a plea deal and was resolved last year.

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN today that there is “no issue that would preclude him from attending” the Combine. Mayfield is nearly certain to be on the list of invitees when the NFL finalizes it. The Combine begins Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.

Mayfield, 22, will be the first Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Senior Bowl since Tim Tebow did so in 2010. As a senior at Oklahoma last season, he completed 70.5 percent of his passes, threw for 4,627 yards and had 43 touchdowns against six interceptions. He is widely thought to be a top-10 prospect, putting him potentially in reach of the Dolphins.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier was vague in discussing the team’s plans with the 11th pick last week, but did not rule out taking a quarterback.

While players do on-field work and other testing at pre-draft events, the most valuable part for most teams is getting to sit down with prospects for extensive interviews about football and off-field concerns. Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum and Grier were at the Senior Bowl with a team of scouts last year, and coach Adam Gase joined them for the Combine.

Teams also can bring in up to 30 prospects for pre-draft workouts and interviews at their facility.

One player who won them over in their Combine meeting last year was LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. He declared for early entry into the draft despite a variety of possible concerns, including an arrest for domestic violence that got him briefly kicked off the team, and withstood a thorough investigation by the Dolphins.

“Once we got the facts, we interviewed the kid and talked to people in Baton Rouge about it, we felt comfortable with the result and with the information we got,” Grier said at the time of the pick.

Godchaux also wowed the staff with his football I.Q., which Gase said solidified Miami’s interest in taking him. The Dolphins got him in the fifth round, and he was a starting-caliber player for them immediately.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: What picks do the Miami Dolphins have this year?

The Dolphins took Ted Ginn at No. 9 in 2007. (Getty Images)

[Updated March 15, 2018 after compensatory picks were awarded and trades involving Jarvis Landry, Robert Quinn and Daniel Kilgore]

As the Dolphins ramp up their preparation for the 2018 draft with the Senior Bowl coming up this month, they currently have eight picks.

Miami has its own pick in each round except for the fifth, which it sent to the Saints in September in exchange for linebacker Stephone Anthony. In addition to its six base selections, the team has a fourth rounder from the Jay Ajayi traded and an extra pick in the seventh from Tampa Bay.

When the Dolphins shipped Ajayi to the Eagles this season, they got a fourth-round pick that Philadelphia had previously acquired from the Vikings. The first 20 draft slots in each round are determined by regular-season record, and the remaining 12 are filled based on how far those teams go in the playoffs.

The seventh-round pick from the Buccaneers came from a trade last year when the teams swapped spots in the seventh round, with the Dolphins moving down from No. 223 to No. 237.

These selections can change if the team makes any trades between now and the draft, which is April 26-28. As of now, here is the Dolphins’ stock of 2018 draft picks:

First round: No. 11 overall
Second round: No. 42 overall
Third round: No. 73 overall
Fourth round: No. 123 overall, No. 131
Fifth round: No selection (traded to New Orleans for Stephone Anthony)
Sixth round: No. 209 overall
Seventh round: No. 227 overall, No. 229 overall

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Top 8 Miami Dolphins NFL Draft targets in tonight’s CFB title game

Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith is after Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield here. Keep a close eye on#3 of the Georgia Bulldogs tonight. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama produce three of the four highest ratios of NFL players per resident.

And so it really shouldn’t be all that surprising that Georgia and Alabama (each featuring some players from Florida) are squaring off in tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship (8 p.m., ESPN).

But if you’re a Miami Dolphins fan, there are at least eight players worth focusing in on, any of whom could be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft (April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas).

Here are our Top 8 players that would look oh-so-nice in aqua and orange in 2018:

  1. Georgia LB #3 Roquan Smith. Projected first-rounder. Sideline-to-sideline explosiveness. Three-down capable. He can pressure the quarterback and cover? Yes, please. Increased his stock with a remarkable effort against Oklahoma in the CFB Playoff semifinal. Speed. Youth. Raekwon & Roquan (McMillan & Smith) just sounds good, doesn’t it?  (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  2. Alabama S #29 Minkah Fitzpatrick. Projected first-rounder. He probably won’t be available when the Dolphins pick at 11th. But Fitzpatrick is your new-age safety. He can play close to the line of scrimmage or deep. He can cover but also has the size and strength to hold up in the NFL game. Would allow coordinator Matt Burke to unleash Fitzpatrick, T.J. McDonald and Reshad Jones. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  3. Alabama WR #3 Calvin Ridley. Projected first-rounder. Why would the Dolphins take a receiver when it’s not an obvious position of need? Well, maybe you decide to let Jarvis Landry walk. Or maybe you decide to trade DeVante Parker. Ridley is a Fort Lauderdale native who compares to former ‘Bama receiver Amari Cooper. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  4. Alabama RB #34 Damien Harris. Projected third-rounder. There are four backs in the game the Dolphins could consider as a compliment to Kenyan Drake, including ‘Bama’s bull rusher Bo Scarbrough. Harris is a mostly north-south runner who has averaged more than 7 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  5. Alabama S #15 Ronnie Harrison. Projected second-rounder. Harris can cover tight ends. If only because of that, he should be on Miami’s radar. Again, safety is not an obvious position of need. But if Miami wanted to add a player with great range to its secondary, Harris could be a valuable weapon that increases flexibility for the team. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  6. Georgia RB #27 Nick Chubb. Projected third-rounder. There could be good value here, if Chubb slides at all because of a previous knee injury. Chubb is  a downhill, power runner, which could compliment Drake well. Chubb has good vision and can break tackles and he may be even better as a rookie than he was this season with Georgia. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  7. Georgia LB #7 Lorenzo Carter. Projected second-rounder. Can rush or cover. Can be an outside linebacker as well as edge rusher. Carter can create pressure and Georgia has also used him to cover tight ends and running backs. Carter is going to need to add size and strength, which may not be ideal for Miami’s 2018 defense. Upside pick. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
  8. Georgia RB #1 Sony Michel. Projected second-rounder. Michel has improved his draft stock this season and may be taken ahead of Chubb because of his speed and elusiveness. Michel was a star at Plantation American Heritage and he has emerged as a complete back in college. He can run inside and outside and pass catch. Michel = burst. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

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2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins open to picking quarterback at No. 11 overall

Baker Mayfield could be on the Dolphins’ radar. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—The Dolphins are adamant that they have the quarterback they need for next season in Ryan Tannehill and they plan on him being fully healthy by the time they start Organized Team Activities in May.

They also know taking a quarterback in the draft might be smart.

As Miami launches fully into offseason mode, it will be looking at quarterbacks with the No. 11 pick. There are generally thought to be five quarterbacks worth taking in the top 20 picks: UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Southern California’s Sam Darnold if he chooses to leave.

“We’ve said we’ll always take the best player on our board,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said when asked directly if quarterback was an option in the first round. “I’ve talked from Day 1. We talked about the J.J. Watt thing. At d-end, we had (Cameron) Wake and whatever, but if J.J. Watt’s on the draft board when we’re picking, we’re not gonna pass on J.J. Watt because at defensive end we feel good.

“All positions, we’re evaluating everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s quarterback, tackle, defensive tackle—everything’s wide open for us.”

Grier is the point man for Miami’s draft operation, and his reference to the 2011 draft gives insight into how he approaches it.
Wake was coming off an incredible year of 14 sacks and the team had him marked down as a franchise cornerstone. But if Watt had lasted all the way to No. 15, they couldn’t have turned down that opportunity.

Instead, Watt went to Houston four picks ahead of the Dolphins. They chose Mike Pouncey that year.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins prospects to watch in CFB Playoff

Roquan Smith wears #3 for the Georgia Bulldogs. Check this linebacker out on Monday night. He’s the kind of guy any team (ahem, Miami) could use. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins will enter the NFL Draft with plenty of needs, which will make it hard to pinpoint the positions they’ll target.

The Dolphins are currently slated to pick 12th in the first, second and third rounds, and will pick no worse than 12th if they lose on Sunday to Buffalo.

If Miami wins, they could fall as low as 15th. It’s unlikely, but with a lot of help, they could climb as high as 6th to 8th.

RELATED STORY: [NFL Draft Order 2018: Who Miami Dolphins fans should root for Week 17]

The College Football Playoff on New Year’s Day should be fun to watch.

The Rose Bowl will feature Georgia vs. Oklahoma and the Sugar Bowl will feature Clemson and Alabama.

The Daily Dolphin knows you’ll be watching, but we wanted to give you a handy cheat sheet in order to take special note of those upper-echelon talents Miami could target in the top three rounds.

While it seems unlikely that premium talents like safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and defensive end Christian Wilkins would fall to Miami, we’re going to include them because, well, it’s not impossible that a player could slide, or the team could move a bit up.

As a guide, we are relying on ESPN’s NFL Draft Player Rankings, worth subscribing to, if you haven’t already.

ROSE BOWL (5 p.m., Monday)

Oklahoma

#78 OT Orlando Brown (24th overall, first-rounder) — Successor to Ja’Wuan James? (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#6 QB Baker Mayfield (27th overall, first-rounder) — Developmental QB behind Ryan Tannehill? (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#31 LB/DE Obo Okoronkwo (62nd overall, second-rounder) — Miami could use another youthful rusher. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#81 TE Mark Andrews (93rd overall, third-rounder) — Miami needs a TE. This one led OU in catches. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

Georgia

#3 LB Roquan Smith (19th overall, first-rounder) — Athletic. Physical. Yes, please. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#7 LB Lorenzo Carter (47th overall, second-rounder) — Can rush and cover. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#27 RB Nick Chubb (60th overall, second-rounder) — Rebounded from knee injury. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

 

SUGAR BOWL (8:45 p.m., Monday)

Clemson

#42 DE Christian Wilkins (9th overall, first-rounder) — Can rush inside and out. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#99 DE/LB Clelin Ferrell (18th overall, first-rounder) — Can rush and cover. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#75 OT Mitch Hyatt (96th overall, third-rounder) — Former top HS recruit. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

Alabama

#29 S Minkah Fitzpatrick (4th overall, first-rounder) — Awesome instincts; versatility. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#3 WR Calvin Ridley (7th overall, first-rounder) — Luxury pick, but comps to Amari Cooper. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#15 S Ronnie Harrison (22nd overall, first-rounder) — Free safety range. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#28 CB Anthony Averett (42nd overall, second-rounder) — Luxury pick, but never enough corners. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#9 RB Bo Scarbrough (46th overall, second-rounder) — Power back. Compliments Kenyan Drake. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#34 RB Damien Harris (74th overall, third-rounder) — 8.2 yards per carry. Seriously. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

#9 DE Da’Shawn Hand (86th overall, third-rounder) — Former mega-recruit. (VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)

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