A lot of the eye concerning the Miami Dolphins within the pre-NFL draft course of has targeted on the quarterback place, and rightfully so, however there is a respectable likelihood Miami seeks assistance on the defensive position first earlier than deciding on their franchise quarterback.
Dolphins common supervisor Chris Grier mentioned attacking each offensive and defensive strains is his most popular place to begin to construct a group, and the excellent news is that April’s draft is overflowing with gifted defensive linemen and edge gamers who could make an instantaneous and long-term impression.
Right here is the place new defensive position coach Marion Pastime comes into play. Miami’s new rent helped recruit and coach defensive linemen — Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence — throughout his time as co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach at Clemson. All three prospects are potential first-round picks.
When: April 25-27
The place: Nashville, Tennessee
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The Dolphins, who maintain the No. 13 choose, are in prime place to make Ferrell, Wilkins or Lawrence the face of their draft class. Miami has curiosity in all three, and every checks packing containers that Pastime seems for in defensive linemen.
“What sort of character have they got? What sort of self-discipline have they got? Psychological toughness might be one of many issues and what folks round them say about them,” Pastime mentioned. “You have recognized this man has big-time expertise, however has he reached that expertise stage and does he nonetheless have room to develop? Then, it is whether or not he is able to develop.”
There’s curiosity in gamers past the Clemson trio. Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat and Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, two gamers who might be inside vary of Miami’s first-round choose if the board falls excellent, additionally had formal interviews with Pastime and the Dolphins.
“We talked about a number of issues in there: cross rush, clearly, run becoming. The coach was positively attempting to grind my gears. It was a fantastic assembly,” Sweat mentioned about Pastime. Oliver added that his formal interview with Miami was one among his hardest.
This is a more in-depth take a look at the Clemson trio for the Dolphins to think about at No. 13:
Ferrell (6-foot-Four, 265 kilos)
He’s the perfect of the three gamers and the perfect match for the Dolphins, a group in determined want of dependable edge rushers.
Ferrell has flashed on tape over different Clemson prospects since he was a freshman, and he is coming off back-to-back first-team All-ACC seasons with a mixed 21 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss and 5 pressured fumbles. He has a fantastic first step, is hard, works laborious and has supreme dimension for the sting place.
Ferrell additionally raved about Pastime, whom he interviewed with on the NFL scouting mix, and mentioned he would like to reunite with him in Miami.
“That is been a sizzling query I have been getting all week: Who is without doubt one of the most influential coaches for me? Coach Pastime was someone … if it wasn’t for him, I do not really feel like I might have change into the participant that I’m right this moment. His teaching fashion and his caring about his gamers actually modified my complete mindset towards the sport. That was so enormous, and I may by no means repay him for it,” Ferrell mentioned.
Dolphins defensive position coach Marion Pastime helped recruit and coach Clelin Ferrell (99) and Christian Wilkins at Clemson through the Tigers’ 2018 nationwide title season. Dannie Partitions/Icon Sportswire
Ferrell has additionally overcome adversity. He is the youngest of 9 children, and his father — his “rock” of his household — died when Ferrell was a freshman in highschool. He additionally needed to redshirt his freshman yr at Clemson due to a hand harm.
Some NFL scouts are fearful about his lateral motion, athleticism and skill to face up as an edge rusher, however gamers such because the Eagles’ Brandon Graham, the Titans’ Derrick Morgan and the Eagles’ Derek Barnett all had a few of those self same query marks earlier than getting into the league. However you may’t argue with manufacturing, energy and consistency. Ferrell can take an analogous monitor as these gamers — turning into a whole three-down participant in opposition to the run and cross and totaling a dependable 6-10 sacks per season.
Go-rushers who also can cease the run may be probably the most helpful useful resource within the trendy NFL outdoors of quarterback. Check out the pending free-agency spectrum during which gamers similar to Trey Flowers and Preston Smith appear prone to strategy or surpass low- to mid-tier beginning QB cash ($15 million per yr). Neither Flowers nor Smith have had greater than eight sacks in a season. It is simple to see Ferrell turning into the “Trey Flowers” of Brian Flores’ protection.
Wilkins (6-foot-Three, 315 kilos)
He can be a fantastic match as a three-technique on the Dolphins’ defensive position, however he has the flexibility to play a number of positions. Wilkins additionally has familiarity with Pastime from their time at Clemson, although it is unclear whether or not the 2 have formally interviewed for Miami.
He can cease the run and he was elite in that space in faculty, incomes first-team All-American honors final season, all whereas ending the season with six sacks and 15 tackles for loss from the inside of the defensive position.
He may by no means have eye-popping stats, however Wilkins is the kind of participant who will open up much more for different gamers due to his capability to penetrate the road.
It is simple to see groups falling in love with Wilkins within the interview room — he exudes a giant character and assured management abilities.
“I desire a group to understand that if you happen to get me, they’re investing in a lot extra,” Wilkins mentioned. “Simply the power to not solely dominate on the sphere, be efficient on the sphere, but in addition to enhance the tradition, whether or not it is good, unhealthy, ugly, completely different. … I am the sort of man you need within the locker room, you need in your group, on the sphere with you. I am somebody who’s simply extraordinarily dedicated and invested in my craft.”
The Dolphins’ 2018 first-round choose Minkah Fitzpatrick had comparable traits and drive, and Miami is ecstatic to have him as a cornerstone of its protection going ahead.
Dexter Lawrence ran the 40-yard sprint in 5.05 seconds on the NFL scouting mix in Indianapolis. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
Lawrence (6-foot-Four, 342 kilos)
He’s the largest of the group, however do not let his dimension idiot you — he’s greater than a two-down nostril deal with. Lawrence has uncommon quickness and athleticism; he ran a 5.05-second 40-yard sprint, simply 1/100th second slower than Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“I name myself a once-in-a-decade sort of participant,” Lawrence mentioned. “I really feel like the way in which I attempt to grasp the sport, the way in which I attempt to grasp my methods, it is simply completely different than a number of guys.”
Lawrence demanded double-teams regularly, and he was efficient at plugging holes within the run recreation and pressuring quarterbacks up the center. He would slot in Miami’s scheme effectively as a giant read-and-react run-stuffer who may shift throughout the road.
There are numerous query marks surrounding Lawrence, and due to these, he may be a participant whom the Dolphins can commerce down and nonetheless choose up. Lawrence mentioned each group he interviewed with, together with the Dolphins, requested him about his failed performance-enhancing drug take a look at that induced him to overlook Clemson’s last two video games of the season. Additionally, he suffered a minor quad harm through the mix. Lastly, there are questions why a top-five participant popping out of highschool at his dimension and ability set did not produce extra. Lawrence had seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss as a freshman. He then mixed for 4 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss over his last two seasons.
However groups can also’t ignore the movie, potential and dimension. They know — as Lawrence has assured — that he is an uncommon expertise.