« April 2, 2014 | Main | April 7, 2014 »

3 posts from April 3, 2014

April 03, 2014

Seantrel Henderson unable to finish Pro Day

Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin attended the University of Miami's Pro Day today and one of the players they obviously wanted to put eyes on was offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson.

Henderson, 6-8 and 344 pounds, might be a project later-round draft pick and the Dolphins are obviously in the market for young, cheap offensive tackles.

But the view the Dolphins got of Henderson was not as good as hoped. Henderson was unable to finish his workout and by several accounts did not impress in the drills he did complete. The University of Miami, unlike other universities, keeps the workouts closed to the media so this is all second-hand from witnesses and sources.

Henderson did not speak with the media after the workout. David Levine, Henderson's agent, told The Herald's Barry Jackson that Henderson felt dehydrated and sick and that was the reason he had to stop.

Whatever the reason, it is not good news for the player. You may recall Henderson was once one of the country's most prized prep recruits. He initially committed to USC and then went to Miami when the NCAA hammer came down on the Trojans.

But he never lived up to his reputation at Miami. He was suspended multiple times. He was often out of shape. And he failed to solidify himself as the dominant linemen his physical gifts suggested he could become.

Will this scare the Dolphins away? Henderson was one of the players they wanted to closely study and that review will continue, with a local visit to the team's training facility next week.

At that point Henderson will have to explain what happened today.

[Update: Henderson bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times. He checked in at 6-7 and 339 pounds. He was 331 pounds at the NFL combine.]

WR Nate Burleson visiting Dolphins today

The Dolphins have shown no intention of standing pat as the bargain-hunting portion of free agency is well underway and to prove it, beyond the signing of Jason Fox on Wednesday, the team is bringing in veteran receiver Nate Burleson today, per sources.

Steve Wyche (Miami Herald alum) of NFL AM was the first to report the story.

Frankly, this one is a little curious. Burleson is not young (32), he's not particularly fast (4.51) and he's not particularly big (6-foot). He might be cheap, agreeing to a veteran minimum salary contract because he's coming off a two unimpressive years in Detroit.

Still, I do not get it.

Burleson isn't really an upgrade over any of Miami's top four wide receivers -- Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson or Rishard Matthews. He obviously could be a good experienced backup as a No. 5 wide receiver to guard against Hartline or Gibson not being fully recovered from last year's knee injuries.

But the No. 5 wide receiver rarely makes it to the game-day roster and when he does, usually has to play special teams. I don't think Burleson would be enthusiastic about either of those two ideas because he hasn't returned a punt since 2009 nor a kick since 2010.

Another thing: This draft is deep in WR talent. Rookies cost one-third against the cap that a veteran such as Burleson costs. 

This move reeks of something else being afoot. It demands explanation.

On the other hand, Burleson hasn't exactly been in demand so maybe ....

Dolphins need to let Mike Wallace run up on safeties

The last week of seemingly non-stop coverage of DeSean Jackson got me to thinking about, what else, the Miami Dolphins.

Much like the Eagles a season ago with Jackson, the Dolphins have a lightning-fast wide receiver in Mike Wallace. Unfortunately, the Miami coaching staff failed miserably to maximize Wallace and so he caught 73 passes for 930 yards and five touchdowns.

That's good, but not dynamic player good, not $60 million contract good.

But here's the thing, if the Dolphins in 2014 apply some of the principles to Wallace the Eagles applied last year to Jackson, there is a very good chance Wallace's statistics will grow to dynamic proportions.

And, with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor coming from his job as the Eagles quarterback coach a year ago, he is perfectly suited to apply those principles to the equally explosive Wallace that Eagles coach Chip Kelly applied to Jackson.

More specifically, I'm talking about how the Eagles moved Jackson around -- sometimes putting him in the slot -- so that he could use his speed against a linebacker or a No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback and then deep against the safety.

If you'll look at the highlights below, you'll see at the 3:30 mark, Jackson in the slot against Tampa Bay. (I'm sure former Bucs personnel man and current Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey loved seeing this). And the Bucs play a zone with a LB under and a safety over the top.

Well, Jackson runs out of the LB's zone in a blink and the safety is not nearly fast enough to pick him up over the top.

The touchdown is caused because Jackson is extremely fast. But it also happens because the Eagles gave Jackson a matchup that allowed his gifts to simply blow away the Tampa scheme.

The Dolphins didn't do that last year with Wallace. He lined up 90 percent of the time on the right side of the line of scrimmage out wide. He rarely went into the slot. He rarely motioned.

Look again at the 5:27 mark of the highlights against the Vikings. The Eagles line up Jackson in the slot and the Vikings answer by matching up with safety Robert Blanton.

How do you think that went?

Jackson ran up on the safety and left him in the dust.

Lazor saw this time and again last season. He has a player on the Miami roster that offers exactly the same kind of explosion as Jackson.

If he's smart, Lazor will give Wallace the chance to run up on safeties in 2014 as Jackson did last year for his Eagles. The results could be dynamic.