Skip to main content

Wednesday NFL Scouting Combine Recap

Mike McDaniel's charm has reverberated throughout both the local and national media landscape. Today, McDaniel rose to the challenge posed to him last week by Rich Eisen in a radio interview, utilizing multiple coaching clichés in his Scouting Combine press conference.

In case you missed it, last week Eisen challenged McDaniel to use all three of his favorite coaching cliches. McDaniel raised the stakes and said he could do it in one answer -- and he did.

"Let's not forget, it is what it is. Me, personally, I don't have a crystal ball," he said. "Really the only guys that I can talk about are the players that are here today.

That was the big finish for a press conference in which McDaniel covered his philosophy, identify and the focus on offense and defense.

It started at the running back position. McDaniel, the offensive coordinator of the seventh-ranked rushing attack in 2021, was asked about the importance of that spot.

"You have to realize running backs collectively -- whether you do it part to whole or one guy -- you have 300-400 touches by that one position," said McDaniel. "Anywhere I've been, and with the Miami Dolphins moving forward, it's of paramount importance. We have a concrete skillset that we found that can really flourish in a zone blocking system."

A strong running game is a quarterback's best friend. McDaniel has complimented the energy, accuracy and overall skill set of Tua Tagovailoa, but with Jacoby Brissett set to hit free agency later this month, the Dolphins are having discussions about how to potentially fill the backup QB role.

"When you're looking for a No. 2 quarterback, there's two things," he said. "You want him to benefit the starting quarterback … and empower him with how they approach their daily gameplan responsibilities and how they develop when you're training in the offseason. But you also want a guy that can win games should the starter go down. So a veteran backup is definitely in our discussions, but it's the best player we can find in whatever avenue and move forward from there."

Later, we'll talk about the receivers and tight ends in this class and their role in the blocking game. But first, McDaniel touched on the value of having quality blockers at those skill positions.

"There's multiple ways to use players that have skillsets that can help you do things offensively," he said. "We've had tight ends in our history that have been featured pass receivers and featured blockers. On both ends of the spectrum they are expected to do both things -- majoring and minoring in one or the other depending on their skillset."

Finally, the Dolphins retain a significant portion of the defensive staff and personnel. When it comes to that side of the ball, McDaniel is taking a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach.

"I watched a ton of the (Dolphins) defensive tape and it reminded me of what I hated in 2020 when the Dolphins beat the team I was coaching, and it was that the scheme was outstanding, there's some really core young players that have been developing and are passionate. Bottom line is I would rather play with them than against them," McDaniel said.

Wide Outs and Tight Ends Talk

Wednesday kicked off four straight days of Combine participants getting peppered with questions. Up first was the group that will work out first -- the wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks.

Following the trend of the last few years, it's another deep, well-versed wide receiver class. What's your flavor? The entire draft can channel through that question, but it's especially true among the athletes that play out on the perimeter. Three draft publications could have three different WR1's, so we caught up with as many as we could.

From the speed category, and the ripest of trees to pick from, the Alabama duo gave some insight into recovering from injuries and coming from such a rich talent pool at what has become Wide Receiver U.

Jameson Williams said he's been off of his crutches for two weeks. Though he won't rush to hit any physical deadlines, he wants to use this time to sharpen the rest of his game.

"I'm going to use this week to show teams what I'm all about in the classroom," Williams said. "This offseason, for me, is all about finding ways to make the game slow down even more."

That's quite a devastating thought for opposing defensive backs considering Williams is a projected 4.4 blazer.

So is his former Crimson Tide teammate, John Metchie, who said he stays in touch with all of his ex-teammates such as Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and Jerry Jeudy. What is it about Metchie's game that he believes can help him experience similar success?

"Our fundamentals of who we are, the discipline," he said. "The attention to detail in our craft. How we approach our craft and everything we learned at Alabama, just bringing that same winning energy and winning spirit to the NFL."

The Bama connection isn't the only one with a direct line to the Dolphins this week. Purdue wide receiver David Bell is a dark horse Day 2 sleeper among many draft publications. Bell mentioned going from his Giants interview straight to the Dolphins and new Wide Receivers Coach Wes Welker.

"He asked me questions about family history, why I chose Purdue, things like that," Bell said. "I definitely watched him (when I was a kid). He was a shifty slot. I'm not that yet, but hopefully I get to that one day."

The last wide out we talked to also moonlights as a running back. Kentucky's Wan'Dale Robinson started his career at Nebraska spending more of his time in the backfield. Upon arrival in Lexington, Robinson doubled his career touchdown production (14 total) and nearly did the same in yards from scrimmage (1,494 YFS in two years with Nebraska, 1,445 in one season with Kentucky).

"Whenever it's one-on-one, I don't think anybody can tackle me," Robinson said. "I think I turn into a running back with the ball in my hands and I'm going to fight for extra yards."

A player who could conceivably block for a player like Robinson is Maryland's Chig Okonkwo. The jack-of-all-trades tight end answered questions about the receiving aspect of the position, but lit up when asked about blocking, a primary duty of his quasi-fullback role.

"It's a mindset I didn't really have when I was younger because I was lighter," he said. "As I put on some weight and learned how to block, I really embraced it because in order to do something well, you have to enjoy doing it."

Speaking of blocking and catching, Coastal Carolina's Isaiah Likely is no stranger to either aspect of the tight end position. The potential top tight end off the board talked about his versatility.

"I think I'm one of the most versatile players in this entire draft," he said. "Coastal Carolina prepared me by putting me everywhere whether it was out wide, in the slot or even inline. It just showed that my versatility is something you can't prepare for."

"I love football," Likely said about his mindset as a blocker. "I've been playing since I was four-years-old so any assignment you give me, I'm going to be ready."

This group will be the first to hit Lucas Oil Stadium for on-field workouts. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends will hit the field on Friday at 4 p.m. ET on NFL Network.