Miami Dolphins reach out to another of NFL Draft's top quarterbacks. And interviews booked

  • In Sports
  • 2020-04-07 01:09:19Z
  • By Miami Herald

A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Monday night:

▪ The Dolphins, determined to be prepared if they surprisingly don't end up with a quarterback with their first pick in the NFL Draft, have looked very closely at the quarterbacks expected to go after Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.

One of those well-regarded QBs in that next tier is Washington's Jacob Eason, and the Dolphins have arranged a video-conference session with him, according to a league source.

Eason started all 13 games for the Huskies in 2019, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards and 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

ESPN's Todd McShay has Eason going 49th in his latest mock draft.

"Eason has some developing to do, but there's no denying his raw arm strength and terrific measurables," McShay said.

Eason began his career at Georgia, where he threw 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 16 games in 2016 and 2017. He lost his job after sustaining an injury and transferred to Washington, where he played one season.

Many expect the Dolphins to fall short in a long-shot bid to acquire Burrow and then to emerge from the draft with Tagovailoa or Herbert. But the Dolphins have invested considerable time in the next tier of quarterbacks to protect themselves if they don't end up with one of those three.

They summoned Utah State's Jordan Love to South Florida for a pre-draft visit on March 14, before the NFL banned those visits because of coronavirus. And their call with Eason allows them to spend time with a player who has been widely rated the No. 5 quarterback in this draft class.

Teams ordinarily are allowed to bring 30 non-local prospects to their headquarters before the draft, and Miami did two of those 30 visits - with Love and Ohio State running back JK Dobbins - before the NFL banned them this year.

▪ One potential mid-round linebacker who has caught the Dolphins' eye: Purdue's Markus Bailey.

He started all 13 games as a junior in 2018 and led the Boilermakers with 115 tackles (nine for loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception) before he was limited to four games last season with a knee injury.

According to a league source, the Dolphins had scheduled Bailey on a "30 visit" at Dolphins team headquarters before they were banned by the league.

▪ Even after adding three quality edge players in free agency (linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson), the Dolphins want to add more edge players in the draft process and scheduled a video-conference session with South Carolina defensive end DJ Wonnum, according to a source.

The 6-5, 258 pound Wonnum has experience playing as a standup linebacker or as a hand-in-the-ground defensive end. Wonnum started all 12 games last season, closing with 37 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception and one blocked kick.'s Lance Zierlein said Wonnum is "best suited as a rush linebacker in a 3-4. He's not a premium pass rusher but possesses desirable length and slippery body turn to create pressure with secondary rush effort."

▪ The Dolphins have shown strong interest in two well-regarded offensive linemen from Louisiana, previously known as Louisiana-Lafeyette. And that's not surprising, considering the school had the FBS's fifth-ranked rushing attack last season.

Besides interest in guard/tackle and potential second-day pick Robert Hunt, Miami also had invited the school's other starting guard, Kevin Dotson, for a "30 visit" before the NFL banned them, according to a source.

Dotson was a first-team AP All American at right guard last season but wasn't invited to the NFL Combine. Pro Football Network calls him "as complete as any guard in the 2020 draft class."

He's an option on Day three of the draft.

"I think people realize that I'm a smart player," Dotson told USA Today. "It puts me on level ground with some of those prospects that went to a bigger school than I did. I might be smarter than some of the guys they're looking at."

Hunt played right tackle at Louisiana but many project him as an NFL guard, and he could go in the second round.

Hunt and Dotson roomed together, and Dotson said: "He's probably one of the only people in my life that I've never even had an argument with. We just see eye-to-eye on a lot of stuff. We've been close since day one."

The Dolphins are eyeing both of them.

Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas, who we wrote about here earlier today, is among other offensive line prospects who has video-conferenced with the Dolphins.

▪ Whereas some prospects are doing video-conferencing sessions with top Dolphins officials, the Dolphins also are having their position coaches interview other prospects who interest them.

These are the types of interviews that often would happen not only on 30 visits, but the day before Pro Days, which have been canceled around the country because of coronavirus.

Among those who did a phone interview Friday with a Dolphins position coach: Southern Mississippi receiver Quez Watkins, who had 55 receptions last season for 1,024 yards (18.6 average) and five touchdowns.'s Lance Zierlein says Watkins is "an early-entry prospect with adequate size and speed but needs to prove he can rise to the occasion against NFL competition. The potential outweighs the concerns and he should be a Day 3 selection with a shot at becoming a [fourth or fifth] wide receiver."

The Dolphins believe they are good enough at receiver but are open to adding a player on the third day of the draft and potentially earlier if an elite talent from a deep class falls to them.

▪ Plantation American Heritage coach Patrick Surtain became animated in a playful way when asked by Fox-7's Steve Shapiro on Sunday night if the Dolphins' new cornerback tandem of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones can be as good a pairing as Surtain and Sam Madison were for the Dolphins years ago.

"Wait, you say as good? Shouldn't it be the other way around?" Surtain said. "These guys haven't even played together yet. You're talking about two legendary players, two guys who are probably going to have their names in the rafters at Hard Rock Stadium pretty soon. You are going to compare us to them?"

Surtain smiled.

"I like the duo," he said. "They're two very talented young cats. I'm interested to see how they're going to work together. It's going to be a couple more years or five to six years before you can even compare them to us. We were probably the best duo during our playing days in the league and they have yet to play a game together. We'll see. I'm pulling for them."

Madison made four Pro Bowls and Surtain three. Madison twice was first-team All-NFL, while Surtain had that distinction once.

Here's my Monday piece with an in-depth look at the Dolphins' search for another starting offensive tackle, the options and more.

Here's my Monday Heat piece on how the NBA hiatus could affect Miami's grand free agent plans for 2021.


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