Misi, Others Owe Draft Status To Senior Bowl Performances

Posted Jan 18, 2013

Dolphins can bolster their roster during visit to Mobile.

One month before the NFL Scouting Combine, representatives of all 32 teams descend on Mobile, Alabama to take a closer look at some of the nation’s most talented seniors entering the draft. The Senior Bowl has helped kick start many promising careers.

The Miami Dolphins have five picks in the first three rounds and 10 overall, so starting Monday there will be some serious notes being taken by General Manager Jeff Ireland and his scouts. The hope is to find the equivalent of a Doug Martin or an Alfred Morris, two running backs that exploded on the scene during the 2012 regular season, while also identifying some depth.

Three players from last year’s game made it into training camp with Miami – Missouri tight end Michael Egnew, Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller and Texas linebacker Kheeston Randall. Egnew and Randall were drafted in the third and seventh round, respectively, and Fuller signed as a free agent. He secured a spot on the practice squad for the entire season while Egnew and Randall made the final 53-man roster.

“The Senior Bowl was good. It was the first time that we were able to work with NFL coaches and meet with NFL coaches,” said fourth-year linebacker Koa Misi, who was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. “It was also the first time I had really been on my own with something, just having to go to a different state. But after being there and practicing with the guys and with the coaches, it ended up being a good experience for me.”

As it turned out, the experiences Misi had that week in Alabama helped him make the transition to the NFL at an unfamiliar position because he had played exclusively at defensive end for Utah. At 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds, the NFL scouts saw his body as a better fit at linebacker.

During his first three seasons with the Dolphins, Misi struggled as 3-4 outside linebacker going up against bigger offensive tackles. Last year under defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, he flourished in the 4-3 scheme and realized how far he had come from that Senior Bowl.

“It was the first time I had played linebacker,” Misi recalled. “They had me playing linebacker at the Senior Bowl and they also threw me in there a couple times at defensive end. That was an experience to play linebacker – it was just different than anything I had done before. But it was a good experience overall.”

Getting a chance to practice for a week with NFL coaches and learn a new position aren’t the only benefits of participating in the Senior Bowl. Players invited to the prestigious all-star game also get to meet with coaches, scouts and general managers and feel out the interview process before going through it again in Indianapolis in February.

Tight end Charles Clay looks back at that aspect of his week in Alabama two years ago as more valuable to him in the end. He wound up being drafted by the Dolphins in the sixth round out of Tulsa and caught three touchdown passes as a rookie in 2011.

“It actually made the Combine process a lot easier,” said Clay of his Senior Bowl experience. “A lot of the interviews I would have had there I did at the Senior Bowl. But it was fun just getting to meet a bunch of guys. It’s funny because I play against a lot of the guys on Sundays. The friendships that we have are a good thing.”

Come April when the Dolphins are on the clock, Ireland and company will surely look back to this week in Mobile and possibly add more hidden gems to the roster.

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