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Dolphins 2014 draft preview #2: An interview with Ian Wharton from Senior Bowl

Just this past weekend, we caught up with Ian Wharton, a Dolphins analyst from draftmecca.com and got his take on potential Dolphins draft picks at offensive line, those little known, but talented college players from division 2 or 3, and if the Dolphins could find cornerbacks in the draft.  Interestingly enough, I hinted that it couldn’t hurt to draft a quarterback in this year’s draft, given a new GM, it could happen right?

1.   Obviously, there has been a ton of talk about Zach Martin and where he fits on the O-line.  Who are the potential O-linemen that could fit in Miami at Guard and right tackle from what you observed in Mobile?

The Senior Bowl had an interesting group of lineman; most of the guards and tackles project to be interior lineman in the NFL. The guys that intrigued me for guard were Kadeem Edwards from Tennessee State, Brandon Thomas from Clemson, Jon Halapio of Florida, Billy Turner from North Dakota State, and Wesley Johnson from Vanderbilt. Of that group, Halapio had the strongest week.

For right tackle, I really liked Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort. Nevada’s Joel Bitonio, who projects more as a developmental guy, needs strength and refinement, but intrigued me.

2.   Talk about Derek Carr, quarterback from Fresno State.  Some Dolphins fans want to see Miami draft him to compete with Ryan Tannehill.  What impresses you the most and where do you see him being drafted?

A three-year starter at Fresno State, Derek Carr amassed eye-popping statistics, and has experience in a pro-style offense and a spread offense. Carr has all of the physical tools that you want in a quarterback; large hands, a strong arm, good leadership and plus accuracy. His film shows that he has a terrific ability to hit deep throws, as he was able to throw 60 yard passes with a flick of the wrist, and hitting receivers in stride. He’s a big risk, however, as he really struggled in the face of pressure. He looses his poise when he sees the pass rush, and will resort to throwing off of his back foot, leading to near-turnovers. He was able to get away with that in the Mountain West, but the NFL will make him pay dearly for those mistakes.

Despite the flaws, Carr can flourish if he makes adjustments to his game. He graded as a high 2nd round pick for me, and considering the value of the position, could be a top 10 pick in May.

3.  Who was your favorite player to watch and talk to?

I really enjoyed talking to Florida State’s Telvin Smith, who has great charisma. He was very honest when asked about possibly switching positions, and cracked jokes despite the media surrounding him.

I really enjoyed watching Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith, Pittsburgh defensive end Aaron Donald, and Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff. Each player dominated each practice and showed they’re NFL caliber players.

4. What about the Senior bowl leads teams to get after the little known draft eligible players?  Who are those little known division 2 and 3 guys that fans might not know of?  

The Senior Bowl is great for smaller name prospects or guys from D2/D3 schools because every player has opportunities to win during 1 on 1 drills. It’s one thing to see a small school prospect dominate inferior talent, but when that guy is now shining against guys that are known as NFL caliber, scouts pay attention.

My favorite small school guys at the Senior Bowl were Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. I’ve known about each since the beginning of the season, and they really played well against stiff competition. Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, and was a great interview. He will likely be the top small school prospect selected in May.

5. The Dolphins might have needs in the secondary at cornerback.  Who are some players you saw in Mobile that could fit Kevin Coyle's defense?  More importantly, who are those cornerbacks that could, if drafted by Miami, unseat Jamar Taylor or Will Davis?

Surprisingly, most of the cornerbacks in Mobile were big, press-type guys that don’t fit what Coyle wants (think Sean Smith). That being said, there were a couple guys I think Miami should look at. Utah State’s Nevin Lawson had a strong week, showing good ball skills and surprising speed. Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin was dominant before tearing his ACL on day 2. He could be a late round steal for Miami after he recovers. I’d also look at Auburn hero Chris Davis, who is aggressive like Will Davis.

I don’t think any of those guys could unseat Jamar Taylor or Will Davis, but it is important to remember that the top 5 cornerbacks in the class didn’t partake in the Senior Bowl. As far as scheme-fit and talent, both Taylor and Davis are better for the Dolphins than what the Senior Bowl offered. 

We thank Ian for sharing his insight first-hand from this year’s Senior Bowl practices.  You can follow Ian @IanWhart0n and his writeups at draftmecca.com.