Dolphins Satisfied With How Things Went On Final Day Of Draft

Posted Apr 28, 2012

Last year the Miami Dolphins used four of their six picks in the NFL Draft on offensive players, and this year they stayed with that theme by going offense with six of their nine picks.

With five picks at their disposal on the final day between the fourth and seventh rounds, the Dolphins added running back Lamar Miller from Miami, wide receivers B.J. Cunningham from Michigan State and Rishard Matthews from Nevada, defensive tackle Kheeston Randall from Texas and Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu.

“We had a great day today,” General Manager Jeff Ireland said. “We’re getting through the free agency process, which has been very productive tonight and I think we’ve got some really good guys.”

Sticking close to home, the Dolphins traded up six spots with the San Francisco 49ers to take Miller 97th overall. He joins defensive end Olivier Vernon as the two Hurricanes to be added to the roster and has the speed and quickness to compete with Reggie Bush in the backfield.

Miller was projected to go higher in the draft, and obviously Ireland didn’t think he’d fall much further so he pulled the trigger on the trade. Miami swapped fourth-round picks this year with the Niners and gave them one of their sixth-round picks this year (196th) and a sixth-round pick next year. That 196th pick was the one Miami acquired from the New Orleans Saints last year in the trade for Bush.

“It’s a great feeling being a Miami Dolphin and I really can’t express how I feel,” said Miller, who grew up in Miami and went to Killian High School. “I’m very comfortable at the stadium after playing there my whole University of Miami career and it’s a great environment. I just want to help the team out and I grew up a Dolphins fan.”

This is the first time since 1991 that the Dolphins have selected a pair of ‘Canes in the same draft. In ‘91, Miami used its first-round selection (23rd overall) on wide receiver Randall Hill and its eighth-rounder (220th overall) on defensive back Roland Smith.

When Miller was still sitting there after the first three rounds waiting to be taken, Ireland couldn’t resist and that was with good cause based on where they had him rated.

“I expected him to a little bit earlier but that’s the draft and for whatever reason he was still sitting there,” said Ireland, who also mentioned Miller’s kickoff return ability. “I felt it was too good a value to pass up and so we went up to try to get in front of a couple of other teams. My vision for Lamar is just to come in here and learn and develop. He’s got as natural run skills as I’ve seen and I thought he was one of the better running backs in this year’s draft. He’s got good hands, he’s very quick and he’s got exceptional change of direction.”

After staying put on Thursday and Friday, the Miami Dolphins became active on the trade front in the draft today for the second time, moving out of the 145th overall pick in the fifth round to move down 10 spots.

With that 155th overall pick, Miami selected Kaddu, gaining an extra seventh-round pick (227th overall) in the process from the Tennessee Titans. That one was used on Marshall to close out Miami’s draft, and Kaddu sounded like he couldn’t wait to get on the practice field.

“I feel truly blessed and I’m just glad to be going out there and playing for the Dolphins and putting on that awesome uniform,” said Kaddu, who had 108 career tackles (68 solo) and 10 sacks for the Ducks. “I feel like I’m a versatile player who can come in and compete and work hard. I can rush the passer if the team needs be, drop back in coverage, play man-to-man in the slot, running back or tight end, whatever they need me to do.”

Ireland confirmed that he sees Kaddu as an outside linebacker that can play on either side and with his long arms and great range he’ll be able to drop into coverage and make an immediate impact on special teams.

There is no telling if Cunningham out of Michigan State was specifically targeted in the sixth round by the Dolphins yesterday when they acquired San Diego’s sixth-round pick to allow the Chargers to move up, but he is now part of the mix.

Cunningham was taken 183rd overall and set the Michigan State record for most career receptions with 218 for 3,086 yards and 25 touchdowns. As a senior for the Spartans, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cunningham caught 79 passes for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns and sees himself as a perfect fit for the type of offense the Dolphins will run under Head Coach Joe Philbin.

“I feel like my game is all around and I feel like I can bring physicalness at the receiver position,” Cunningham said. “I block well, I’ll go across the middle and I feel like I can extend to get the ball and I can adjust to the ball. I’m blessed to be in this situation and I can’t wait to get started.”

Philbin has explained numerous times that his approach to wide receivers is different from other teams whereas he does not label them as an X, Y or Z receiver. He certainly would like to have a big and fast receiver in the mold of Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson, but he likes to move his receivers around anyway.

“The way we teach the passing game is we have individual cuts, we have two-man concepts and we have three-man concepts,” Philbin explained. “I think the more guys you can get that can get into different spots to create mismatches for the defense the better you’re going to be. We like the size of both of these guys and they’re a little bit bigger targets as a wideout and we’re going to watch them, we’re going to get them on the field and see if they operate better inside or outside.”

Miami wrapped up the day by taking Randall with the 215th overall pick and Matthews with the 227th overall pick. Matthews was being listed as a wide receiver/return specialist.

Randall is a native of Beaumont, Texas and at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds has the size to dominate up front in a 4-3 defensive scheme or as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme. He also played against some tough competition in the Big XII and was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior. Randall started all 13 games and racked up 34 tackles (12 solo), one sack and 14 tackles for loss and Ireland believes he can play all three positions on the defensive line.

“Just my motor and my dedication to the game are my strengths,” said Randall, who admires current NFL players Kendall Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch. “But I know I can constantly got better by working on techniques and watching players of my size as well as staying in the film room like I’ve been doing at Texas.

Matthews caught 91 passes for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns last year at Nevada and at 6-0 and 217 pounds he is a versatile athlete who can excel on special teams. He confirmed that he even played some free safety in high school so he’s not afraid to run the down the field on kickoffs and punts and make a hit.

During his two years at the college level he returned 48 punts for 551 yards and two touchdowns. He is looking forward to coming down to South Florida and joining the Dolphins and knows what his strengths and weaknesses are.

“I would say I have good ball skills and my ability to make plays after the catch I would say is excellent,” Matthews said. “I can play on any special teams and I also do punt returns so I can contribute in whatever way they want me to. As far as what I need to work on to improve my game, I would just say that I take pride in blocking so I can finish my blocks more. I believe I finish my blocks well now but I don’t like my guy getting in the pile so I want to improve on that.”

If there was one strong revelation to come out of the weekend it had to be the Dolphins’ renewed interest in the University of Miami. Prior to this draft the last Hurricane to be taken by the Dolphins was offensive tackle Vernon Carey in the first round of the 2004 draft.

“We want to try to create a relationship with the Hurricanes and Al Golden and he’s been very good to me,” said Ireland as he talked about the unique University of Miami/Miami Dolphins Day after the Hurricanes’ Pro Day. “I respect him very much as a head football coach and I know the way he coaches and I like the way he coaches his players. I believe in his program, I believe in him.”

The team will host a three-day rookie minicamp next weekend to help get all of the draft choices and undrafted free agents acclimated to the practice regimen and the facility.

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