2018 NFL Combine: Former quarterbacks weigh in on top prospects

Josh Rosen was fine in the QB-WR drills, but not overwhelming. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The quarterback-receiver drills are always one of the highlights of the NFL Combine, and sometimes they cause a ripple of overreactions.

This year, with three of the top four quarterbacks throwing plus former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, the sessions mostly reinforced what everyone already thought.

A small group of media was on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium for the workouts Saturday morning and it included former NFL quarterbacks Jim Miller and Brady Quinn. Both work as analysts now after spending a combined total of nearly two decades in the NFL. To read The Post’s notes from those sessions, click here.

The Dolphins were in attendance, too, and are considering a quarterback with the No. 11 overall pick. Depending on what happens over the next month or so, they might need to trade up if they want one of the big four: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Southern California’s Sam Darnold and reigning Heisman winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.

Quinn and Miller were largely impressed by Allen, who showed in throwing drills he’s clearly got the strongest arm of the top-tier guys. Both described him as an “effortless” thrower. While he’s not as polished as Rosen and Mayfield, there’s a belief that his mechanical issues are mostly are correctable.

“He’s lackadaisical on his drops because he knows he has the big arm to overcome it,” Miller said. “Everybody talks about his accuracy issues—a lot of that is his footwork. If you noticed even (Saturday), he missed to his left on a couple throws… But when he throws to his right, he has no issues at all. So that tells me it’s more of a footwork-hip issue.

“Again, I think he relies on his arm too much, but the upside is tremendous with him. There’s no doubt about it.”
Quinn was impressed by Allen’s quick release, but pointed out his inconsistent accuracy, particularly on some short throws. He seemed to think Allen has the most pure talent, but Rosen is the most pro-ready passer as of now. He sees almost no flaws in his throwing mechanics.

It’s a much different story for Jackson, who played at Boynton Beach High School before going to Louisville. His accuracy and mechanics have been picked apart throughout the past year, and he admitted teams are right to be concerned about it. He’s been working hard to fix those issues, but he’s still got a lot to do.

“Lamar doesn’t use his lower body,” Quinn said. “He would have a stronger arm, or it would look stronger (if he did).”

Miller and Quinn both pointed to some positives about Jackson as well, and Miller especially liked his deep ball.

Each had an under-the-radar prospect they’re high on, too. Quinn likes Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who was fine but not great in the throwing session. Falk is projected to be a mid-round pick.

“This kid’s good,” Quinn said. “Compact motion. He’s got good touch.”

For Miller, it was LSU’s Danny Etling, who transferred there from Purdue. He’s likely to be a very late pick, but could be worth taking.

“He actually had a really good day,” Miller said. “I want to go back and look at him. His long ball, his arm, his accuracy, his drops were where they should be. His timing and rhythm were pretty good.”

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

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

2018 NFL Combine: Who shined, struggled in quarterback-receiver drills?

Josh Allen threw some impressive deep balls. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The quarterback-receiver passing sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium certainly aren’t the final word on how this year’s NFL Draft class stacks up, but it further clarified what some of the top players at both positions have to offer.

The Dolphins, who are considering a quarterback at No. 11 overall and would be in the market to add a receiver if Jarvis Landry leaves, had full representation for the drills. Adam Gase, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree were in attendance.

At quarterback, Wyoming’s Josh Allen left no doubt he’s got the strongest arm in this year’s group. While his overall accuracy was hit-and-miss, he showcased his best attribute in when they worked on deep balls down the left side of the field. He got everyone’s attention with a perfectly placed 65-yard throw.

When asked about his personal quarterbacks coach claiming he can throw it 90 yards, he said that’s not quite true, but “he’s not too far off.”

Allen was easily the star of the morning session as Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold opted not to participate.

“I’m going to throw at my pro day,” Darnold said. “I think that’s a good opportunity for teams to be able to look at how I can spin it. I’m going to be throwing to guys I’ve played with. Given all the information I had, I thought that was the best decision.”

He was the only one of the top four prospects who voiced concerns about throwing at the Combine. Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield were full participants in the afternoon session.

“I mean, ball is ball,” Rosen said. “That’s what we do is we throw the football, so coming in here, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

There was a clear gap between the tier of Rosen, Mayfield and Allen and the rest. Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Lamar Jackson—all considered second- or third-round possibilities—couldn’t match the sharpness of the top passers.

Louisville’s Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner out of Boynton Beach High School, threw in the morning session and reaffirmed teams’ concerns about his throwing accuracy.

Jackson had a bad overthrow on an out route and underthrew two balls in the ensuing mid- to long-range drill before finally connecting on a brilliant pass in stride to Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman.

Jackson had some timing issues, throwing late and behind receivers, on various routes and even when he was in sync, the location of his throw wasn’t ideal. When they went to the 50-yard deep routes where Allen excelled, Jackson’s first attempt was wobbly and well short of his receiver. He was much better on the second try and connected on the third as well.

Jackson faced concerns about his accuracy head-on and knows it’s something he needs to fix.

“If you look at film, I notice that myself,” he said. “I’ve been working on it… I feel that’s why they’re doubting me right now.”

Rosen and Mayfield didn’t do much to distance themselves from each other. Mayfield was more accurate overall, especially on shorter throws, but Rosen outdid him on the deepest throws. His highlights were a bomb to Southern Methodist’s Trey Quinn and a nicely placed 60-yard pass to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Mayfield’s throws lagged during that drill.

The day before the drills, Mayfield proclaimed himself, “the most accurate quarterback in this draft, by far.”

Among the less heralded prospects, Virginia’s Kurt Benkert showed good accuracy on short-range passes and Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta had nice moments in deep ball work. None were consistently impressive, though.

While the emphasis is always on the quarterbacks during these sessions, the receivers are under evaluation as well. None looked better than Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, a 5-foot-11 prospect projected to go late in the first round.

He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash Friday, then followed it with an exceptional showing in drills. More than anything, his hands stood out as the best among any receiver who participated.

When Kirk hit the gauntlet of catching seven quick passes while running across the field, he did it with machinelike skill. Each pass stuck in his hands with no double-clutching as he breezed through that drill like it was easy.

He played slot at Texas A&M and has the classic skillset to do so in the NFL, but also believes he can be an outside threat.

Ridley is widely thought to be the No. 1 receiver in this year’s class, but wasn’t nearly as impressive as Kirk in the gauntlet. One of his runs got derailed by a dropped pass, and he couldn’t recover quickly enough to get to the next throw.

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

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

2018 NFL Combine: Top QB prospects love Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase

Adam Gase is quite popular with this year’s quarterback prospects. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Combine is really about prospects convincing the horde of team representatives that they’re worthy of being picked, but the Dolphins have been making a strong impression on the players as well.

That’s especially true when it comes to the quarterbacks, an area coach Adam Gase considers his specialty. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got Dan Marino walking around the Indiana Convention Center as part of Miami’s scouting delegation as well.

While Marino has a significant role within the team, including heavy day-to-day involvement with the staff during the season, any quarterback the Dolphins draft will be working most closely with Gase. That sounds good to many of them. The backwards hat, the overflowing confidence and simply being 39 years old make for a persona that’s going over well with this year’s class.

“I get along very well with him,” said Wyoming’s Josh Allen, a likely top-10 pick who has met with Miami several times. “He’s a younger guy and he’s got a really good personality. He’s a super positive guy. I’m meeting with him tonight, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Allen, Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, Sam Darnold of Southern California and UCLA’s Josh Rosen are the consensus top four quarterbacks in the draft. Gase made a special trip to the Senior Bowl to watch Mayfield, Allen and a few other quarterbacks, but Rosen and Darnold said they haven’t formally met with the Dolphins yet.

Mayfield might be the closest to Gase in terms of personality. His defiant personality might turn some teams off, but it’s more likely to endear him to Gase.

“I think we related a lot, mindset-wise on offense,” Mayfield said. “He’s a smart guy. There’s a reason he’s a young coach and he’s that successful.”

Gase’s reputation goes beyond his last two seasons with the Dolphins and the fact that Ryan Tannehill put up some career numbers in his one year playing for him. He also guided Jay Cutler to one of his better seasons in 2015 with Chicago and worked with Peyton Manning for three seasons in Denver.

Quarterback wasn’t a pressing need for the Dolphins last year, so it’s unlikely they took a hard look at any of the top prospects. They ended up not drafting anyone at the position.

This year is different. Even with Tannehill expected to be back to full strength from knee surgery well in time for the start of training camp, Miami needs to secure a reliable backup to avoid the situation it had last summer. When Gase didn’t feel totally comfortable going into the season with Matt Moore as the starter, the team shelled out $10 million for Cutler that ultimately proved to be poorly spent money.

A high draft pick this year could develop into Tannehill’s backup and eventually his replacement. He has three years left on his current contract, which is just the right amount of time for the Dolphins to get a handle on the ability of someone they might pick up in this year’s draft.

Gase has typically been part-coach, part-buddy with his quarterbacks, a relationship dynamic that make sense considering he’s not drastically older than the players. Manning is actually two years older than him, and Cutler is close enough in age that they could’ve gone to school together.

“He’s a younger guy for sure, which is always fun,” said Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, who is projected to be a second- or third-round pick. “You naturally have more of a connection to someone like that.”

Western Kentucky’s Mike White, perhaps a mid-round pick, knows of Gase mostly through former teammate Brandon Doughty. He also happens to be a Dolphins fan from growing up in Broward County.

The Dolphins drafted Doughty out of WKU in the seventh round two years ago, and even though he’s been stuck on the practice squad the entire time, he’s had nothing but good things to relay to White about Gase.

“You can tell he’s a quarterback guy,” White said. “If I ever got the chance to play for him and learn under him, it would be an unbelievable experience—just being able to pick his brain more than anything because you can tell he’s a very knowledgeable guy.”

Lamar Jackson, a Boynton Beach High School product who won the 2016 Heisman Trophy at Louisville, is another option for the Dolphins in one of the early rounds. He painted Gase as “real cool… a laidback, chill guy.”

It’s a safe bet that no one ever used those words to describe his predecessor.

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

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

Miami Hurricanes OT Kc McDermott calls NFL Combine ‘speed dating’

Kc McDermott has been prodded and quizzed all week. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Combine doesn’t look so hard on television. A player shows up to run a 40-yard dash, do a three-cone drill, hit the bench press and move on. Behind the scenes, however, it’s much more of a grind.

Former Miami Hurricanes left tackle Kc McDermott spent 10 straight hours undergoing medical examinations inside Lucas Oil Stadium for his first day at the Combine, then jumped into a series of 15-minute team interviews that he likened to speed dating.

The medical evaluations have been thorough and “pretty aggressive.” McDermott, who played at Palm Beach Central High School, went from room to room with a handful of team doctors on hand in each one to go over every detail.

“You go through the first 10 minutes of it and you’re sitting there talking about your medical history and surgeries you’ve had, ankle sprains,” he said today. “They want to know everything that’s ever happened to you from a little, small, tiny, little pull on your hamstring to the most major surgery you’ve ever had.

“They do a great job of medically evaluating everybody and finding every single, little thing about you that has happened. Each room has the medical staff (from teams), and you’re sitting on a table in the center of it and you’ve got four guys tugging on you at the same time.”

Injuries weren’t much of an issue for McDermott, who started the final eight games of his sophomore year and all 26 over the following two seasons.

The interviews might be the bigger challenge. McDermott’s goal in those session is to convey his personality and football intelligence.

“We want to make sure when we leave that table after 15 minutes of being with them that they are comfortable with us as human beings,” he said. “They already know who we are as football players. They want to know who we are as human beings so they can really talk to us and get to know us on a more personal level to see if we fit their organization.”

There’s been more conversation about playbook and scheme in these meetings than any McDermott has had thus far, though, and he seems to be navigating it easily.

“They really get you on the board and they want you to draw up plays and see a little bit more of your football knowledge,” he said. “Again, they know us as football players on the field, but they want to know how knowledgeable we are in the film room.

“It’s still there. I can tell you the entire Miami playbook. But I’m not going to.”

One of the teams McDermott has spoken with is the Dolphins, and he said they know him fairly well since he played locally. While he’d be happy to land with any NFL team, he acknowledged it would be “special” to end up with the one he rooted for as a child.

[The Dolphins claim they want Jarvis Landry back, but do they really?]

[The latest on where the Dolphins stand with RT Ja’Wuan James]

[Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris gets a chance at a starting job in 2018]

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

2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins arrive at NFL Combine with many needs

Sam Darnold is thought to be one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The NFL Combine presents an intriguing checkpoint for the Dolphins as they try to rework their roster following a 6-10 season that left everyone in the organization questioning themselves.

This week in Indianapolis, the team will have a large delegation that includes coach Adam Gase and general manager Chris Grier. They’re tasked with evaluating more than 300 players who will be doing drills and sitting down for interviews this week, and that should sharpen their focus on how they plan to proceed with their stock of seven picks in April’s draft.

Any priority lists they make here will be written in pencil considering free agency is right around the corner. The moves Miami makes when the market opens March 12 could alter what it believes it needs to find in the draft.

The biggest issue for the Dolphins is to determine the best possible way to handle the No. 11 overall pick. If they keep it, they should be in range to land one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen.

All of those players will be in town for the Combine, but ESPN reported Darnold will not throw. The others are expected to do so Saturday.

The Dolphins already got an up-close look at Allen and Mayfield in the Senior Bowl. Gase flew in specifically to see them, and executive Dan Marino was on hand for that as well.

The supposed experts are all over the place in how they rank the quarterback prospects, illustrating how difficult it might be for teams to sort them out. There’s also the issue of whether most analysts are overlooking 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who starred at Boynton Beach High School before going to Louisville.

Furthermore, the needs of teams currently picking ahead of the Dolphins could change between now and April. The Broncos or Jets would be unlikely to spend a top-10 pick on a quarterback if they sign Kirk Cousins or trade for Nick Foles. The Colts might feel less certain about Andrew Luck’s future by then, which would put them in the mix for a quarterback at No. 3.

The Dolphins don’t feel pressed to find an immediate starter given their expectation that Ryan Tannehill will be back to full strength for the upcoming season, but they hope having this high of a selection is a rare opportunity, so this might be the time to strike. If a first-round pick can be a capable backup this year and good enough to ultimately overtake Tannehill, that would be an ideal outcome for Miami.

If the Dolphins trade the pick, a possibility vice president Mike Tannenbaum was quick to mention after the season, or aren’t sold on any of the top four quarterbacks, they could address other needs first and look to add a passer in the middle or late rounds.

Beyond short-term and long-term concerns at quarterback, this figures to be an offense-heavy draft for the Dolphins. They need a promising, dynamic tight end. They might need a receiver because of the sluggish start to DeVante Parker’s career and the tenuous status of Jarvis Landry. And, as usual, they need help on the offensive line.

Grier’s philosophy is to prioritize talent over needs. He’s not likely to sketch out a draft plan that has the team taking a tight end in the second round, a lineman in the third and a linebacker in the fourth, for example. If an exceptional guard is available when the Dolphins pick at No. 42, Grier would generally jump on him regardless of where the depth stands at other positions.

There are countless moving parts as the team tries to square away its draft board and many of the twists and turns can’t be predicted. But the Combine represents a big step in the Dolphins’ process of informing themselves about the tough choices they’ll face over the next two months.

[Dolphins feeling good about where they stand at cornerback–for now]

[Miami Dolphins players react to Parkland shooting]

[The Palm Beach Post‘s first 2018 NFL mock draft]

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

2017 NFL Draft: Possible Dolphins target Reuben Foster kicked out of Combine

Reuben Foster's draft stock is in jeopardy after being kicked out of the NFL Combine. (Getty Images)
Reuben Foster’s draft stock is in jeopardy after being kicked out of the NFL Combine. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS—The Dolphins thoroughly investigate every potential draft pick, but this one will require extra attention.

Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, an exceptional talent initially thought to be well out of range for Miami with its No. 22 pick, was expelled from the NFL Combine this week after a reported altercation with a medical staffer.
Continue reading “2017 NFL Draft: Possible Dolphins target Reuben Foster kicked out of Combine”

NFL Combine record for broad jump remains safe from David Njoku

David Njoku is crushing the NFL Combine. (Matt Porter/The Post)
David Njoku is crushing the NFL Combine. (Matt Porter/The Post)

INDIANAPOLIS–David Njoku came here to break a record, but didn’t quite get there.

Njoku, a first-round tight end prospect from the University of Miami, took aim at the NFL Combine mark for broad jump this afternoon and came in at 11 feet, one inch. That was second among tight end prospects this year and fell more than a foot short of Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones’ 2015 broad jump of 12 feet, three inches.
Continue reading “NFL Combine record for broad jump remains safe from David Njoku”