2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins’ Dan Marino scouts QBs, leaves them starstruck

With the Dolphins open to taking a quarterback, Dan Marino is serving as an extra scout this year. (Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala.—The Dolphins are using a uniquely qualified quarterbacks expert since they’re considering taking one in this year’s NFL Draft.

Hall of Famer Dan Marino is deeply involved in the evaluation process, doing everything from watching prospects on the field to sitting in on their meetings with the organization’s top decision makers. He’s part of the team’s scouting delegation at the Senior Bowl this week and was at Ladd-Peebles Stadium to get a look at possible first-round picks Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, among others.

“It’s good to have Dan around,” general manager Chris Grier said. “Obviously, a player of his caliber and one of the all-time greats and someone that is very respected, it’s great having him in the meetings. We’ll sit and we’ll pick his brain, and he’ll ask us questions as well. It’s another opportunity for us to learn and for him to learn as well.”

Marino, 56, has transitioned into a significant role within the organization and is constantly involved in day-to-day operations. His job is far from being a symbolic position. He’s at the facility most, if not all, days year-round and attends every game. He sits in on coaches’ meetings as well.

After a 17-season career with the Dolphins, he went into broadcasting for a few years before the team hired him as Senior Vice President of Football Operations in 2004. That appeared to be too much for Marino at the time, and he resigned three weeks later.

He spent another decade in television, then rejoined Miami in 2014. His new title is Special Advisor to the President and CEO. This role suits him extremely well, and though he doesn’t have direct authority over players or roster decisions, he is respected essentially as a coach and is one of the key leaders in the building.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase described him last season as “a good sounding board, especially for quarterbacks” and is always interested in Marino’s insight when they watch film together. He works directly with the quarterbacks, too.

“He’s seen so much football over his time and he always gives the quarterbacks a piece of advice that seems so small at the time, (but) it’s a big deal because it’s the way he saw it, and the way he saw things was special,” said Gase, who was also in Mobile to see quarterback prospects. “He’s always trying to help those guys. You almost have to ask him, though. He’s not overbearing in that way. He waits for you to come to him.”

Marino also mixed in a few acting performances amid all his years in football, most memorably in Ace Ventura. Current draft prospects were babies when he stopped playing almost 20 years ago, but they might recognize him from other work.

“The players are excited when they meet him too, which is always cool,” Grier said. “It’s not just the quarterbacks. Last year we had a linebacker walk in and he was like, ‘Oh, I loved you in Bad Boys II.’ That’s how the players and kids nowadays know him. It’s always cool to see how the guys react.”

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2018 NFL Draft: Miami Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios fully confident

Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios thinks he’s already made his point. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MOBILE, Ala.—Braxton Berrios isn’t feeling any pressure at the Senior Bowl this week. Perhaps he should, considering every NFL team has a group of scouts there to evaluate whether he’s got a professional future in the sport, but that’s not how he thinks.

After a big senior season for the University of Miami, Berrios believes his performance speaks for itself. He’s not going to change anyone’s mind about his speed or his 5-foot-8, 177-pound frame at this point.

“I’m not out here to prove anything,” he said. “Everybody out here watching already has a ton of film and they kinda have their opinion about you already. I’m just here to continue being the playmaker that I am and prove myself to be a leader, even in this All-Star game.”

Berrios is playing under Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and the North team this week, giving him a chance to play with prized quarterback prospects Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen.

He is projected to be a late-round pick or a player who will get a shot as an undrafted free agent, but he has no doubt he’ll merit a selection. That opinion was reinforced after meeting with “a ton of teams” in his first two days in Mobile.

“I have the skillset and I think I’ve proved enough,” Berrios said. “Obviously I’m going to keep on working, but I fully expect to be drafted.”

If he’s right, it’ll be a tremendous payoff for his breakthrough last season. After minimal impact in his first three years at UM, he turned up with 55 catches for 679 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.

Berrios credits that production in large part to the continuity he enjoyed under Hurricanes receivers coach Ron Dugans. They spent the last two years together after Berrios had different position coaches as a freshman and sophomore.

Beyond receiver, Berrios is looking for work wherever he can find it on the North team. He is hoping to boost his value by showing he can be a kick or punt returner and has even practiced holding for field goals.

“Whatever a team needs me to do, I’ll find a way to do it,” he said.

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins’ Adam Gase on hand to watch Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is a strong candidate for the Dolphins with the No. 11 pick. (Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala.—The intense scrutiny of Baker Mayfield’s path to the NFL Draft ramped up today as he took reps at Senior Bowl practice with Hall of Famer John Elway studying him from 10 feet away.

Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, arrived in Mobile just in time to join the North team for a practice led by coach Vance Joseph and the Broncos staff. Large delegations from every NFL team were in attendance, including the Dolphins. They want to ascertain whether he’s someone they can trust on and off the field, and he’s intent on easing their minds this week.

“Everybody wants to portray me as the bad boy and the Johnny Manziel stuff, but no, I love the game of football,” Mayfield said in a brief media swarm after practice. “There’s no doubt about that. I’m an emotional player. I’ll do everything it takes to win.

“I love being around my teammates and I love leading and having responsibility… I came down here to play the game and show them that I love playing it.”

Miami coach Adam Gase didn’t attend the Senior Bowl last year, but with quarterback as a possibility with the No. 11 pick, he was on hand to see Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, among others.

The daily practices might be the extent of Mayfield’s work. He declined to say whether he will play in Saturday’s game.

He’s a bit behind in terms learning this week’s playbook and meeting with teams because he did not report Sunday like the rest of the Senior Bowl players. Mayfield said he remained home in Texas to be with his ailing mother.

“Family first, always,” he said. “Doesn’t matter what the situation is. I would never put myself before my mom… It wasn’t about delaying measuring in. I’ll measure in tomorrow if it’s that big of a deal. I don’t care. Like I said, family first.”

Both of the top quarterbacks here have expressed interest in playing for the Dolphins—perhaps too much so in Mayfield’s case. He caused a national stir by posting on social media “#GetMeToMiami” in response to Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who also played at Oklahoma.

Mayfield reiterated that his hashtag was more playful than anything else and said he’ll be happy to play for whatever team drafts him.

There is a unique concern with Miami, though, about how he’ll handle the allure of the nightlife. He dismissed that question with a simple, “I’ll be alright.”

Few players here, especially ones of his stature, feel compelled to convince NFL executives and coaches that they’re serious about football, but Mayfield is a unique case.

The question seems to stem mostly from his antics and the perception that he doesn’t carry himself the way polished company men like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson do. He taunts and celebrates, and a good portion of it veers into vulgarity. It’s hard to imagine many NFL teams citing that alone as a reason not to draft him.

Mayfield’s only major transgression was an arrest last February when he was arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest, as well as a few other things, and ultimately pleaded guilty to three charges as part of a deal with the prosecution. He’ll have to explain his decision making that night in detail when he meets with NFL teams.

Denver, which requested that the Senior Bowl administration put Mayfield on its team, will likely get the most thorough evaluation of his play and personality this week.

“To see what I’m all about, see how I react to certain things, maybe see if I can handle the pressure and stuff like that,” Mayfield said. “But it’s an honor. If John Elway asks you to be on his team, you don’t say no.”

On the field, the reasons he’s currently projected as a top-15 pick rather than going in the top five are his size and the fact that he played mostly out of the shotgun at Oklahoma.

Whenever Mayfield gets his official measurements, whether it be here or at next month’s scouting combine, he’ll likely check in somewhere close to the 6-foot-1, 220 pounds he was listed at on Oklahoma’s roster. That’s below average for NFL starters, though Wilson (5-foot-11), Drew Brees (6-foot) and Tyrod Taylor (6-foot-1) have all proven more than proficient.

“Good players figure it out,” Joseph said. “I wouldn’t be concerned about that.”

What certainly merits concern, though, is Mayfield’s lack of experience working under center. Operating mainly out of the shotgun, he piled up a spectacular 330.5 yards per game, completed 70.5 percent of his passes and threw for 43 touchdowns against six touchdowns, but he knows that’s not the norm for most NFL offenses.

Mayfield listed that as one of his primary goals for the week, and he can turn the conversation around him toward on-field topics like that as soon as he quells the character questions.

“Football is everything,” he said. “It’s led me to be a better man. It’s challenged me. It’s made me face adversity and learn what I’m all about. It’s brought me some of my best friends. It’s brought my family closer together. There’s a lot of things that have stemmed from the game of football, but it’s more than just a game.”

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2018 Senior Bowl: Off-field image big for possible Dolphins target Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield presents an interesting decision for the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala.—The two big-time quarterbacks at this year’s Senior Bowl, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield, are looking to vault themselves into the top 10 picks of the draft. Allen’s task is to prove he can play above the small-school level, but Mayfield’s mission is more multi-pronged.

After 119 touchdown passes at Oklahoma, there isn’t much doubt about his ability. The bigger question is whether he’s got a sturdy enough personality to lead an NFL team.

“We all have a perception of what he’s like through the media,” Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said at the event’s opening press conference tonight. “Now he gets a chance to address and tackle who he is as a person, what he’s about and how he’ll fit in a locker room.”

Mayfield is expected to arrive Tuesday morning in time for the North team’s practice. His trip to Mobile was delayed due to a family situation in Texas.

He’s projected as a first-round pick and very likely will be available when the Dolphins come up at No. 11 overall. General manager Chris Grier, who will be in attendance for practices this week, said the team is open to taking a quarterback.

He will be the first Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Senior Bowl since Tim Tebow in 2010. Mayfield captured the award after putting up 43 touchdowns against six interceptions and averaging 330.5 yards per game last season.

As impressive as he was with the Sooners, he’s drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel for all the wrong reasons. His bombastic demeanor is a small matter, but it feeds a concern that he’s not serious enough for professional football. More significantly, he was arrested a year ago on charges of public intoxication and fleeing the police, among others.

This will be his first time working out in front of NFL teams and sitting down with their representatives. Savage said the Broncos, who are coaching the North team, are among the teams that have asked for extra evaluation time with him this year.

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2018 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper says Senior Bowl big for possible Dolphins target Baker Mayfield

Everything Mayfield does will be heavily scrutinized. (Getty Images)

There’s a wide range of possibilities for the Dolphins with the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft, which will be the highest they’ve chose since taking Dion Jordan third overall in 2013.

While ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper currently has them taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy, the Dolphins will thoroughly analyze the quarterback prospects and need to strongly consider taking one. As of now, they go into next season with Ryan Tannehill and David Fales.

Unless Miami trades up, the quarterback most likely to be available at No. 11 is Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Dolphins vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier will get a good look at him at the Senior Bowl next week, and it’s a critical opportunity for Mayfield to prove he can carry himself professionally.

“Baker, we’ll be watching very closely to see how he handles himself all over the place because you want him to be the CEO of your football team,” Kiper said on a conference call this afternoon.

Regarding his on-field work, which includes a week’s worth of practices, Kiper added, “Baker’s gotta do what Russell Wilson did. He needs to show that despite not having ideal height, he didn’t have many passes batted down at the line and he can do the job against the great talent that’ll be down there.”

Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen will be the two most prominent quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, though Allen is thought to be a top-five pick and well out of the Dolphins’ range. Kiper currently has Allen going No. 1 to Cleveland and Mayfield headed to the Redskins at No. 13, which means he sees Miami having a crack at Mayfield and passing on him in favor of bolstering the offensive line.

If the Dolphins took McGlinchy, they could move him to guard or keep him at tackle and install Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis as their guards.

Mayfield, who is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and will be 23 when the draft takes place, had an incredible run at Oklahoma. In three seasons, he completed 69.8 percent of his passes, averaged 307.3 yards per game and totaled 119 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. He threw a pick once every 55.1 pass attempts.

The flipside is that Mayfield often appears out of control emotionally on the field and had an embarrassing arrest for allegedly being publicly intoxicated and fleeing police last February.

The Dolphins haven’t fared well drafting quarterbacks in their recent history other than taking Tannehill eighth in 2012, and even he has yet to fully validate being picked that high.

Miami came up empty on Pat White (second round, 2009), Chad Henne (third, ’08) and John Beck (second, ’07) in the past decade or so. It also selected Brandon Doughty in the seventh round two years ago, and he has yet to play a game.

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