Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Dolphins mum on 1st-round leanings

Team likes current talent at RB, CB, OL

- By Chris Perkins Staff report

DAVIE — Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier said they feel good about where the team is personnel-wise right now, including their main positions of need: running back, cornerback and offensive line.

But they also added Friday during a pre-draft news conference that they’re open to drafting a running back, cornerback and offensive lineman. And, they said, they’re not sure which position they will take in the first round of the draft Thursday.

“As of right now, we’re going to take the best player for the Miami Dolphins,” Grier said. “There’s a lot of good players in this draft, a lot of prospects who will be there. We’re picking 13, so we’ll just follow our board and let the process play out.”

“And,” Tannenbaum added, “really our thinking has been through the 6-10 season [of 2015], and all through the offseason, is we feel like we’re not one player away.

“So there’s a number of things we’d like to accomplish in the draft, and we’ll see how the board falls to us.”

The Dolphins, under the guidance of first-year coach Adam Gase, originally had the No. 8 pick but sent it to Philadelph­ia in exchange for the No. 13 pick,

linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell.

Tannenbaum said the Dolphins aren’t pursuing Carolina Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman, an unrestrict­ed free agent after the Panthers rescinded his franchise tag, even though they need a cornerback.

“We have nothing imminent with any players right now,” Tannenbaum said.

He also said he doesn’t envision trading up or down in the first round.

“We’ve had some preliminar­y conversati­ons,” he said, “but by and large, at this point we have to see how things unfold.”

As for the cornerback position, where the Dolphins have Maxwell and a collection of unproven talent that includes Jamar Taylor, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett and Tyler Patmon, the Dolphins contend they have possibilit­ies.

In the draft, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, Ohio State’s Eli Apple or Houston’s Williams Jackson could be among the possibilit­ies. But the Dolphins think they’re OK with their current personnel.

“We have guys that have played meaningful snaps; Jamar Taylor has played a lot of snaps in this league,” Tannenbaum said. “Tony Lippett is a player we’re encouraged by. Patmon has played.

“Are they all household names? No. And again we feel like we’re more than one player away, so we want to take the best player.”

At running back, where Jay Ajayi seems to be the front-runner, Ohio State’s

“I think with coach Gase’s history of what he’s done with running backs, these guys all fit what he’s looking for in terms of skill set.” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier

Ezekiel Elliott could be available at No. 13 and would be tough to bypass. But the Dolphins didn’t say he would necessaril­y be their pick if available.

“I think we’re comfortabl­e,” Grier said. “I think with coach Gase’s history of what he’s done with running backs, these guys all fit what he’s looking for in terms of skill set.

“But again, we’ll take any opportunit­y we can to add at any position if he’s a good football player.”

At offensive line, where guards and quality depth are needs, the Dolphins added guard/tackle Jermon Bushrod, reserve tackle Sam Young and center/guard Kraig Urbik. They say that could be good enough.

Others, however, think it’s essential that the Dolphins upgrade at guard, which wouldn’t happen in the first round, over returning starters Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner.

“I think we feel good,” Grier said of offensive line. “We added Bushrod and Sam Young and some other pieces, and we feel good about where we are right now. Again, I don’t want to sound like a broken record; if there’s a good player at that position we’ll take him.

“But we feel good about what we’ve added through the free-agent process.”

The Dolphins maintain they aren’t rebuilding, but it’s clear there have been lots of turnover and additions, and next week’s draft will bring more to the revamped squad.

“Currently we have 78 players on our roster, 24 of which are new, approximat­ely one-third of our roster,” Tannenbaum said. “Our average age is about 25, 26 years old. We also have 16 new coaches on our staff.

“While we’re pleased with where we are, we feel we have a lot more work to do, and next week is an opportunit­y to add a few young players to our roster.”

 ?? TAIMY ALVAREZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Dolphins vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, right, and general manager Chris Grier take part in a pre-draft media session Friday morning in Davie.
TAIMY ALVAREZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Dolphins vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, right, and general manager Chris Grier take part in a pre-draft media session Friday morning in Davie.

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