Dolphins To Mine Senior Bowl For Talent This Week

Posted Jan 23, 2012

Four years ago when Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland attended his first Senior Bowl in that role he did so without his head coach. This time around Ireland will be in the same situation.

New Head Coach Joe Philbin will be staying behind to assemble his coaching staff and get acclimated to the team’s practice facility and other aspects of his job. That’s precisely what Tony Sparano did in 2008 after being named the team’s eighth head coach on January 16th, and Philbin now holds the honor of being the 10th coach for Miami.

What Ireland missed by not being able to attend last week’s East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg because he was interviewing Philbin and the two other finalists in New York City, he’ll try to make up for starting today in Mobile, Alabama. He’ll have the bulk of his scouting staff with him looking at high-round prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft and for potential diamonds in the rough in the later rounds.

As of Sunday night, 104 of the nation’s best college seniors were officially on the North and South team rosters for the 63rd Senior Bowl, with 53 on the South and 51 on the North. And for the second time since 2009, the best quarterbacks will not be in attendance either because they are underclassmen – Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones are the best to have declared themselves eligible for the draft – or they are injured.

Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M was believed to be the best of the rest after those three but a foot injury suffered during a workout last week will keep him out of both the Senior Bowl and next month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. So Ireland and company will be left to evaluate Oklahoma State’s Brandon Wheeden, Arizona’s Nick Foles and San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley on the South squad and Kellen Moore of Boise State, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson on the North.

In addition to Tannehill, another high profile player that was expected to garner lots of attention this week was Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright. But Griffin’s favorite target pulled out of the game Sunday due to an ankle injury that has hampered him. That leaves Griffin’s running back, Terrance Ganaway, and one of his best offensive linemen, Philip Blake, to represent the Bears.

Eight players that competed in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans earlier this month are on the South team, with five coming from Alabama’s national champions – wide receiver Marquis Maze, defensive back DeQuan Menzie, defensive lineman Andre Branch, linebacker Courtney Upshaw and offensive lineman William Vlachos. LSU defensive back Brandon Taylor is joined by tight end DeAngelo Peterson and offensive lineman Will Blackwell.

Typically coaching staffs from the AFC and NFC handle the squads all week and in Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, but this year two NFC staffs have been chosen. The Washington Redskins, led by head coach Mike Shanahan, will coach the South team and the Minnesota Vikings, led by Leslie Frazier, will coach the North. Shanahan last appeared on the sidelines in Mobile in 1986 as defensive coordinator and Frazier appeared in the same role with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004.

This is the only day the two teams will practice at different venues, with the South team heading across the bay to Daphne and practicing at Fairhope High School while the North will work out at Ladd-Peebles. The rest of the week both teams will practice at Ladd-Peebles.

Among current Dolphins players that helped their cause in the Senior Bowl and ended up on the team are defensive ends Jared Ordrick and Kendall Langford, wide receiver Clyde Gates, guard John Jerry, fullback Charles Clay and linebacker Koa Misi. It will be interesting down the road when the NFL Draft takes place in April to see if anyone from this year’s Senior Bowl ends up wearing the aqua and orange jersey.
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