Miami Dolphins Camp Notes Day 2 (Tua stars, Griffin, X, more)

Day 3 of camp, and the intrigue has just begun. Xavien Howard stretches,then leaves the field. Then returns. Then is seen all smiles with Jason McCourty. Then watches practice. Does a little coaching. Then it is revealed he has a “minor” injury. Exhausting. Moving On!

Tua Tagovailoa. This was a good day. A Strike to Gesicki in traffic, a well placed wheel route for Savon Ahmed for a huge play. Another 65 yard touchdown on a deep corner route to Albert Wilson. Tua Tagovailoa was really sharp today. His Red Zone install work was also very good with very few negative plays. He had very good chemistry with Myles Gaskin on option routes, and those two were a terror near the goal line. This was likely his best practice of the last two training camps.

Byron Jones. Tua Tagovailoa tested Jones on a 9 route with Jaylen Waddle,and the ball was on the money. But so was Byron. Pass break up. With McCourty floating around different units, and Xavien Howard being wherever Xavien Howard is, Byron Jones exhibited great leadership on the field on this day. His play was also a standout on a day where the offense seemed to have a step on the defense. How quickly people forget that at the time of signing, most football people thought Byron Jones was a better cornerback than Howard. He might have to prove that once again.

Albert Wilson. Ok, I might have been wrong. Any thoughts/takes about Albert Wilson possibly being cut are quickly evaporating. With the absence of DeVante Parker (PUP, but he was out there today), and whatever physical issue Will Fuller is dealing with, it has been Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, and rookie Jaylen Waddle to the rescue. Albert Wilson has also started a streak. Wilson has consecutive practices with 65 yard touchdowns on deep routes. Today’s on a deep corner route, that he ran in for a TD and then emphatically spiked the ball. Tua and Albert have a connection early on, and it doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon. Oh, did I mention, he almost had two 60+ yard TD’s today?

 

Shaquem Griffin. What a breath of fresh air. Huge smile, giddy while answering questions, and will crack a joke or two. His availability with the media was a hit today, but his play is getting notice. He plays fast, fires off the edge like a shot, and has shown an ability to get into his zone in pass coverage with the kind of ease that only Jerome Baker usually displays. He looks the complete football player, they will find a role for. Some good special teams play in the preseason could land him a roster spot, as Griffin has a very useful look to him. Arrow up. Excited to see him in pads come Tuesday.

Mike Gesicki. Enough with Hunter Long already. Maybe Mike Gesicki feels the same way? He sure showed up today, stretching the field deep down the middle, hauling in a tight pass from Tua Tagovailoa for a big gain. He also made a good attempt on another pass where Tua led him too much toward the boundary. Gesicki was looking dangerous today, and reminded all, that he won’t lose his grip on targets anytime soon. Big standout day for Mike. After practice, he also took some extra work on the Juggs machine, as he caught 50 balls from each side (left, right). Welcome to training camp Mike Gesicki.

Practice MVP: Tua Tagovailoa
Struggled: WR Unit (health)

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Miami Dolphins Camp Notes Day 1 (Tua, Waddle, Palardy, more)

This is day 2 of camp, but actually day 1 of action. Blessed with good weather, I get introduced to the new facility. So, lets start with a brief review.

When you arrive, parking is much clearer, and the location could not be better (on the Stadium grounds). Dolphins staff as always is very courteous even though the NFL Covid protocols are much stronger/better than last year. The design of the building is modern, practical and the shear size of it has to be comfortable for the players. It features an indoor field, as well as two outdoor fields sporting the CORRECT grass (same grass they play on, unlike at Davie). The stands where fans can watch practice, feature ample, comfortable seats, they will surely enjoy. Only complaint I can have is that our old media perch in Davie, was a bit more comfortable for laptop wielding journalists. Other than that, bravo Mr.Ross. The Miami Dolphins have a first class training facility.

Tua Tagovailoa. His work on his body is evident. He has a stronger lower body and looks fantastic physically. He had a long touchdown on a bomb to Albert Wilson, which was not perfect, but it was there for the score (which is what you care about). He had a sizzling 15 yard out that Albert Wilson dropped, and a waggle boot strike to Adam Shaheen for another TD that was the most impressive throw of the day. he had one miscommunication that led to an interception, and another lazy throw in installs that got picked. Overall, it was a good day for the 2nd year QB, and this quote, was the highlight of his press avail:

 

Michael Palardy. No Hyperbole. Today was a punting exhibition. His directional punts were all perfect, and his hang time impressive. That concludes punter talk.

Jaelen Phillips. Working as a linebacker. You kinda knew he was an impressive athlete, but it’s a different thing to see him in person and watch such a long, strong athlete move like he does. If his first day is any indication, fans are going to love watching him play, and the comparisons to another long , lean, rangy Dolphins defender will be inevitable. Can’t wait to see the pads go on.

Jaylen Waddle. Is it possible to be surprised with how fast a “fast guy” actually is? Waddle has unusual speed,that I haven’t seen on this team since Mark Duper. You know he is fast, when he makes Jakeem Grant look run of the mill. His twitchy, quick stride might be playing tricks on my eyes, but what a trick it is. Jaylen Waddle is as advertised early on, with a clean practice under his belt, while being asked to do plenty. Game action is where we are going to see his impact. You are not going to be dazzled by a guy like this in what was essentially a “install day”.

Hunter Long. He is a noticeable athlete. Even while standing next to all the 6′-6″ plus guys in the Tight ends group, Hunter Long stands out. His size, and athleticism is not the only thing that is noticeable. He is almost as athletic in practice as Mike Gesicki, and while Gesicki has a long, gliding stride, Hunter Long has choppy, twitchy steps that could bode well for some YAC from the Tight end position. Of all the rookies, this is the one I am most looking forward too, to watching in game action.

Practice MVP: Michael Palardy
Struggled: WR Unit (some drops)

 

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

NBA Lottery Mock Draft: Cunningham and company

This Thursday we will see the lives of 60 young men change forever, finally reaching their dream  of being drafted into the NBA. In today’s mock draft, we will be focusing on the most valuable  picks: the Lottery picks, #1 – #14. I will be pinpointing the best fits for both the team picking and  for the prospect being selected, not necessarily who we believe the teams will pick but more so  who they should pick.  

Without further ado, let’s begin. 

 

#1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham (FR, Oklahoma State,  PG/SG/SF) 

Essentially the consensus #1 overall prospect, Cunningham is one of the cleanest, most  complete prospects to enter the draft in the past decade. Cade is a 3-level scorer who can  create his own shot just as easily as he can create one for his teammates, splendid rebounding  with natural defense instincts while also taking full advantage of his length in the passing lanes.  If there is one complaint of Cade it would be that he is a good, not great athlete and can be a bit  Careless with the basketball, averaging four turnovers during his lone year at Oklahoma State.  Having an NBA ready body at 6’8, 225lbs, being every bit of a 2-way player and having the  playmaking abilities of a lead guard, he would slot in on almost any team, especially one devoid  of talent such as the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has needs at every position except PF with Jerami Grant taking the leap this past season. A high floor, high ceiling prospect such as Cade is just  what Pistons fans have been waiting for to lead their storied franchise back to the promise land. 

Draft Grade: 95/100 

NBA Comp: Grant Hill with a jump shot 

 

#2. Houston Rockets – Evan Mobley (FR, USC, PF/C) 

The draft truly begins at pick #2 with the Rockets being in a favorable position to begin their  rebuild after trading away former MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the past year.  While I was contemplating plugging in G-League standout Jalen Green, With the emergence of  Kevin Porter Jr the fit isn’t quite there and the skill sets would be rather redundant, Mobley just  makes too much sense for Houston. A rare talent in his own right, Mobley has all the tools NBA  teams are looking for in a modern big man, starting with his diverse offensive portfolio. A  capable ball handler with both his left and right hand who has advanced passing IQ for a big  man, excelling in dribbling hand-offs, and making live reads. In terms of scoring, he can score  from all over the court in the half court setting and fast break. Mobley has been praised for his  jump shot and has developed a consistent mid-range J but has work to do with his three ball to  become a true threat from deep. All this about his offense and we haven’t even gotten to his 

best trait, being an anchor on defense. Having the switchability desired for modern bigs thanks  to his smooth hips and elite length as a true 7-footer with a whooping 7’4” wingspan, He uses  these same traits as a high-end rim defender, averaging 2.9 blocks per game and most  impressively for me, only being called for 2.1 fouls per game. My biggest knock on him is his  lanky body type, he needs to add muscle and mass to his frame to continue his development  and maximize his impact. All in All, Evan Mobley is the prototype for what NBA executives are  looking for in today’s game. 

Draft Grade: 92/100 

NBA Comp: Myles Turner/Bam Adebayo Hybrid 

 

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#3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jalen Green (2002, G-League Ignite,  SG) 

Possibly the most explosive player in this draft class, Jalen Green has all the tools needed to  be one of the top scorers in the league. Green possesses elite athleticism, which can best be  seen on display in the fast break and an outstanding leaping ability that rivals the likes of Aaron  Gordan and Zach LaVine. With his physical tools he has a knack of getting to the rim and  putting some electric jams on display. While not the best shooter, he has a smooth base and  form to his jumper along with the ability to create space to let it fly from anywhere on the floor.  He does, however, tend to get complacent and settle for the jumper too often which can be  frustrating at times, especially when he has the clear athletic advantage to blow by his defender  90% of the time. Jalen owns a wicked handle which is just amplified by his quick twitch athleticism, having an arsenal of step backs, crossovers and hesitation dribbles that leave his  defenders frozen on the court. In terms of play making, he is more of a natural SG with the  ability to initiate an offense but can’t necessarily be counted on to be a floor general. On the  negative side, despite his physical gifts, Jalen has had a negative impact on defense, lacking  the base fundamentals and having the tendency of getting lost when trying to navigate through  screens. The hope is that with the proper coaching he can improve on that side of the ball. For  the Cavs, this selection, to the dismay of their fans, would most likely spell the end of the  SexLand era in Cleveland as Collin Sexton has been on the trade block this offseason, as  reported by Five Reasons own Adam Borai and Greg Sylvander in late June, and bringing in  Jalen Green may be the final nail on the coffin. 

Draft grade: 90.5/100 

NBA Comp: DeMar DeRozan/Zach LaVine 

 

#4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs (FR, Gonzaga, PG) 

After a great run in the March Madness tournament, highlighted by his iconic game-winning  shot to eliminate UCLA in the final 4, Jalen has shot up draft boards and, in our mock, finds  himself as the successor to Kyle Lowry in Toronto. Suggs, an exceptional athlete in his own  right, uses his quick first to relentlessly attack the basket with a rare combination of grace and  

power plus he has the bounce to put anyone on a poster if you aren’t careful. He excels in the 

fast break putting pressure on the defense while always on the lookout for an open teammate.  His jumper is good, not great and it can be expected to improve as he develops in the league,  but if the defense leaves him too much space, he can make them pay. He is a great playmaker  using his court vision to find the open man in various ways and not scared to throw into tight  windows. Jalen’s calling card, however, is his defense. Displaying excellent defensive IQ, can  navigate through an ocean of screens and is a bulldog with his on-ball defense, never shying away from playing up on D and being a menace in the passing lanes. With the probability that  Kyle Lowry is on his way out this offseason, Suggs slots in perfectly in his role and will be  someone that Raptors fans will grow to love. 

Draft grade: 92/100 

NBA Comp: Kyle Lowry/DeAaron Fox  

 

#5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga (2002, G-League Ignite,  SF) 

This is the spot in the draft where it gets a bit messy. With the top four prospects gone,  prospects #5- #10 are all similar in terms of talent, and each having their own warts that might  scare teams off. Jonathan Kuminga, while talented, falls into this group. A plus athlete with a  NBA ready body, attacks the basket and cuts to the rim with reckless abandon, once he gets a  full head of steam it is increasingly difficult to stop him from getting to the rack. Obviously, he is  a wrecking ball in the fast break showcasing his straight-line speed and covers up ground rather  quickly. Kuminga’s problem is he hasn’t developed much since entering the G-League, he has  been battling lower leg injuries for the past year and a half which always makes GMs rather  hesitant. He lacked natural defensive instincts to consistently be reliable on that end, seems to  lack interest on that end as he has been caught being lackadaisical off ball and lazy on-ball. His  poor shooting splits (39%/25%/62%) make it clear he has a lot of work to do before he can be  considered a 3-level scorer or have defenses respect his jumper. Kuminga has all the physical,  natural gifts to be an impact player and potentially an all-star in the NBA, but he needs to make  drastic changes to his offensive skill set, and he needs to apply effort and interest on the  defensive end. He will be an interesting project that may pay dividends for Orlando, who will be  heading to their 2nd official rebuild since the Dwight Howard Trade. 

Draft grade: 88/100 

NBA Comp: Jaylen Brown Lite 

 

#6. OKC Thunder– Scottie Barnes (FR, Florida State, SF/Point  Forward) 

OKC can go a multitude of directions with this pick, and I honestly don’t think they have a set  gameplan or preference since the Big-4 prospects have been selected. With the treasure  chest of draft picks only seen on 2k rebuilds, GM Sam Presti has his work cut out for him. 

Scottie is a legit 1-4 defender with the length and frame needed to guard centers in spots.  Plays with a lot of passion and effort which makes life near impossible for opposing ball  handlers when he is guarding them one-on-one and has no problem switching on screens.  Has great discipline and is engaged off the ball where he takes advantage of his length in the  passing lanes, making him a great fit in any defensive scheme. On offense, he was tasked as  the play initiator and playmaker and he excelled in that spot, showcasing his ball skills, court  vision and overall basketball IQ. The biggest negative for Barnes is his lack of scoring in the  half court, not having a reliable jumper, doesn’t have a quick first step to blow by defenders,  his ball handle is adequate but not enough to freeze defenders and he has trouble creating  space and getting his own shot, even if does find space his jump shot from anywhere on the  court is non-existent at the moment. He is the type of player that OKC has been taking  chances on to develop in recent years and he fits in nicely, having the chance to develop his  offensive game with the proper coaching and putting in the hours in the gym. If he can develop  a respectable stand still jumper in catch and shoot situations, he will have a long career in the  NBA as one of the scariest 3&D players around. 

Draft grade: 86/100 

NBA Comp: OG Anunoby/Draymond Green Hybrid 

 

#7. Golden State Warriors – Franz Wagner (SO, Michigan,  Forward) 

The Golden State Warriors are in a sticky situation. With the core of Steph, Klay and Draymond  entering the final stages of their careers, they need to either trade their picks for an All-star level  talent, or draft quality NBA Ready prospects they believe can help them right now. In this mock  

we don’t do trades, therefore we are slotting in Forward Franz Wagner. Franz is every bit of a  two-way player, being a Swiss army knife that can cover a variety of roles. An instant impact  defender, he has a natural feel for the game and reads defense well enough to at times beat his  man to his spot. Offensively he can be trusted to use his size and court vision to execute dribble  handoffs and keep the ball moving and make accurate passes. He has a sweet stroke from  downtown, being the ideal 3&D player the moment he steps on the court. very efficient with the  basketball and someone who will benefit greatly from playing alongside the two greatest shooters in NBA history. 

Draft grade: 83/100 

NBA Comp: Shane Battier 

 

#8. Orlando Magic – Moses Moody (FR, Arkansas, SG/SF) 

After the selection of a boom or bust prospect in Jonathan Kuminga, we see the Magic taking a  safer, more surefire player in Moses Moody. Moody is one of the more Physical guards in this  draft, having an excellent frame and wingspan to make the lives of opposing guards a misery. 

Very active on ball defender and displays his defensive IQ when roaming off ball and never  looks lost on defense. Offensively he has a reliable jumper from 12-18 feet and has a decent  standstill jumper form 3. Moody can get to the rim but is not a very good finisher and can’t be  relied on as a 1st option at the next level mainly due to the fact he struggles to create his own  shot against good defenders. Excellent rebounder has a nose for the ball once it’s in the air. 

Draft grade: 82/100 

NBA Comp: Elfrid Payton/Andre Iguodala Hybrid 

 

#9. Sacramento Kings – Kai Jones (SO, Texas, C/PF) 

Kai Jones is a raw but talented big man who with proper coaching can have a long career in  the NBA. Regardless of how the league evolves and transforms, there will always be a  demand for rim protectors and Jones provides just that while also having the mobility to switch  between screens on to smaller players. He does however still need to improve his defensive  IQ, having picked up basketball deep into his teens, he at times gets lost on rotations. He is an  ok rebounder, and he doesn’t have the physicality you would want but he will get there once  he fills out his frame at the next level. The shooting mechanics aren’t there just yet, but I  project he will be a decent 3-point shooter as he progresses. With the likely departure of  Richaun Holmes this offseason, Kai will be able to eventually take care of that starting center  spot for Sacramento. 

Draft grade: 82/100 

NBA Comp: Dewayne Dedmon/Nerlens Noel 

 

#10. Memphis Grizzlies – Josh Giddy (2002, Adelaide 36ers,  Combo Guard) 

Well, this pick was formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans until they traded it to off-load Eric  Bledsoe and Steven Adams on to the Grizzlies along with a 2022 top-10 protected Laker pick  and pick swaps. I originally had Sharpshooter Chris Duarte slotted in here for the Pelicans, a  team that is in dire need of some floor spacing for Zion and co. for Memphis though, i like the fit  of Josh Giddy for them. Josh played in the same league LaMelo Ball did, the NBL in Australia.  In his lone season on the 36ers, he put on display his exceptional playmaking ability, especially  considering he is 6’8. His height helped him pull down 7.1 REB per game, so expect him to be a  triple double threat one he gets settled in the NBA. offensively Giddy gets to the basket with  ease and had an excellent finishing rate of 64.1% at the rim in the half-court setting. His jumper  needs some work as it isn’t very consistent, mainly from beyond the 3pt arc. Defensively,  although he has the size advantage over move guards, he tends to get blown by on the regular,  not being able to keep up with shiftier players. He has shown glimpses of an adequate off-ball  defender and he should improve with age and experience. I think the fit is there next to Ja  Morant in Memphis, allowing Ja to be able to focus on getting buckets while he and Giddy share  playmaking duties.

Draft grade: 82/100 

NBA Comp: Lonzo Ball/Jalen Rose 

 

#11. Charlotte Hornets – Davion Mitchell (RS Junior, Baylor,  SG/PG) 

The selection of Kai Jones by Sacramento in this mock draft would be disastrous for the  Hornets, as that is the perfect play to plug in at the 5 spot. The good news for them is they  might have gotten a bit of a steal picking up Davion Mitchell. I’ve seen mocks with Mitchell  going as high as #7, which just highlights his talent. Mitchell continues the theme we’ve seen in  this draft class, a high-level defender with excellent off ball IQ on defense. Can easily create his  own shot and can put his opponents on skates with his wide array of dribble moves. Gets to the  rim with ease despite his size (6’0) and is a nice playmaker who can handle the pressure of a  double team and tight on ball defense. Some teams may be skeptical of his 3-point shooting  this year due to the fact he is a below average free throw shooter and he shot 31% from beyond  the arc in his RS Sophomore season. In Mitchell, LaMelo Ball has his long-term running mate at  the guard spot being able to carry the load on the defensive side and making both Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham expendable. 

Draft grade: 84/100 

NBA Comp: Mo Cheeks/Avery Bradley Hybrid 

 

#12. San Antonio Spurs – Alperen Sengun (2002, Turkey, C/PF) 

The Spurs have been floating around in purgatory for the past few seasons, and this seems to  be the offseason where they hit the hard reset with the departure of Lamarcus Aldridge and  DeMar DeRozan’s pending free agency. San Antonio has historically had great results drafting  international players, with a list that includes Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili & Tiago Splitter. Now  they get a chance to continue the legacy with Turkish prospect Alperen Sengun. I’m going to  be very honest, as much as I love basketball, I don’t spend too much of my time following the  Turkish Super League, I do have YouTube though, so this pick and assessment is based  completely off YouTube highlights, welcome to the 21st century. Alperen does have some buzz  as a high-end offensive player with potential to improve defensively one he fills out his frame a  bit as at the moment he’s a bit of a tweener, not to sure if he’s a center or power forward right  now which in the modern NBA isn’t too much of a problem. There is always a fear with these euro prospects, a fear of the unknown as an NBA fan not knowing what to expect and a fear of  drafting the next Darko Milicic. However, with the developmental program the spurs have in  place, I believe this young man will have at the least a decent NBA career, and if he can put all  the tools together… look out. 

Draft grade: 83/100

NBA Comp: Jahlil Okafor/Domantas Sabonis  

 

#13. Indiana Pacers – Usman Garuba (2002, Real Madrid,  PF/SF) 

The Pacers are another interesting team to pick a prospect for because they have so much  talent on this team but faced a mountain of injuries this past season and with new coach Rick  Carlisle, are seemingly looking to make a playoff push. Indiana allowed the 6th most PPG last  season with 115.35, already having a bevy of offensive talent so I believe Usman is the perfect  fit to grow on this team. High effort player, he is a nightmare on defense roaming around the  court and causing deflections, contesting shots and intercepting passing lanes. On offense he  can be trusted to find the open man and has a dependable handle if you’re not asking him to do  too much. Offensively there is a lot of work to be done and Indiana has the staff to help him,  plus with players like Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and Malcom Brogdon around, Usman  should be able to focus on what he does best, wreak havoc on opposing offenses. 

Draft grade: 80/100 

NBA Comp: Dennis Rodman/Precious Achiuwa Hybrid  

 

#14. Golden State Warriors – James Bouknight (SO, UConn,  SG/PG) 

Golden State just has a Knack for having prospects fall to them on the draft board, and it  happens again in this mock with James Bouknight. A very talented combo guard, James was  the engine of the UConn offense this season with a usage rate of 32%. He will not be getting  anywhere close to that usage rate with the warriors for the next few seasons, but that may be to  his benefit as he focuses on working on the weaker parts of his game like his three ball and on ball defense. James has an incredibly quick first step, applying pressure on opposing defenses  to protect the paint and alongside his slick handle, makes for a lot of fun to watch scoring  possessions. A threat in the passing lanes, he has shown he can be engaged on the defensive  end and has the athleticism to be a plus on-ball defender with time. In my honest opinion, I  don’t believe James or Wagner, drafted #7 in this mock, play for the Warriors this season as I  sense they are looking to make a major upgrade on the roster for one last playoff push.  However, if they are unable to and end up with a young core of James Wisemen, Franz  Wanger and James Bouknight, they will be hands and in good position to pounce if and when a  star is made available during the season. 

Draft grade: 84/100 

NBA Comp: Collin Sexton/Jamal Crawford

 

 

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Xavien Howard reported to Miami Dolphins training camp but his contract demands remain unresolved.

Pressure Point: Miami Dolphins prepare for vital season amid Howard, Watson rumors

Mission accomplished for the Miami Dolphins on Day 1 of training camp in preparation for a season of staggering expectations in South Florida.

All the draft picks are signed. Everyone reported.

That was no small accomplishment given all the hand wringing about whether their best player, disgruntled All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard, would show up. And whether he’d be traded.

Howard checked in on time.

Even making mega-millions, who wants to get docked $50,000 a day? Howard wants to make mega-more, not less.

Later, Howard posted on social media that he is unhappy with the Dolphins and has asked to be traded.

Makes sense for Howard to show up, learn his way around the new Baptist Health Training Complex adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium and let his agent hash out his contract situation with Dolphins GM Chris Grier.

“We’re excited to work with X and all the players that are here,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Tuesday morning. “Those conversations, his representation, Chris, myself, those like always are going to be internal, confidential and we’ll keep it that way for all players. We’re excited to have him, I’m excited to work with him. He’s a great player.”

All draft picks signed

The other thing Flores said of note on reporting day was that second-round pick Liam Eichenberg has signed his rookie contract. Eichenberg, who will vie for a starting role at tackle, was the last of the 2021 draft picks to do so. Tight end Hunter Long, a third-round pick, entered the fold one day earlier.

Although the Howard issue is far from resolved, his presence did provide a diversion from the Deshaun Watson speculation. At least for a moment.

The Dolphins have once again been linked to interest in the controversial Texans quarterback following reports that Houston is now willing to trade him — provided they get a king’s ransom in return.

Watson, like Howard, reported to camp this week to avoid daily fines comparable to a year’s pay for many wage earners.

There is a significant difference in the considerations of trading for these two star players. There are now 10 women who have filed criminal complaints against Watson. Eight of them are among 22 women who have alleged in lawsuits that Watson sexually assaulted them or engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior during massage sessions, his attorney told ESPN.

Did we mention that despite the legal obstacles to Watson’s future, the Texans are reportedly seeking as many as three first-round draft choices as part of a total package of five high draft picks or starting-caliber players? Such is the rumor.

That there is evidence of interest by the Dolphins in Watson despite the steep price and legal questions shows how vital Flores, Grier and the rest of the team’s leadership regards this season.

Five questions for Miami Dolphins training camp

Front office under pressure

One way to look at that is with excitement for Dolfans that management is motivated to do whatever it takes to improve on a 10-6 season and not only get to the playoffs but to contend for a Super Bowl. No small objective in a division chasing a bonafide championship contender in the Buffalo Bills and the New England Belichicks who spent heavily in the offseason to reverse a post-Brady flop.

In my view, there’s too much risk with Watson. Can’t argue the talent, though.

Obviously, Dolphins’ interest in Watson, if genuine, reflects on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has so much to prove in season two and every reason do so: another year removed from that major hip injury, a full offseason immersed in an offensive system now focused on him and a much speedier receiving corps to target.

So the questions surrounding the Dolphins going into training camp will center on Tua and how he meshes with new receivers Jaylen Waddle (first-round draft pick from Alabama) and Will Fuller (veteran deep threat who played with Watson in Houston) while rumors of possible comings and goings of Howard and Watson swirl around.

But there is a lot more to watch as this Dolphins team takes shape in the preseason, as there is so much that goes into lifting a team to an elite level.
Is the talent on this Dolphins roster enough to achieve that?

A lot of attention will be paid to 2021 first-round picks Waddle and Jaelan Phillips, the buffed former Miami Hurricanes’ pass rusher, as well as Eichenberg and Long for immediate contributions.

High draft picks must deliver

Previous draft classes need to up the ante as well. Not only Tagovailoa, but offensive linemen Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley need to improve on rookie potential while Noah Igbinoghene, Raekwon Davis and Brandon Jones must do likewise on defense.

Meanwhile, Christian Wilkins, Myles Gaskin and Andrew Van Ginkel, in their third seasons, and Mike Gesicki and Jerome Baker in their fourth, should be moving into their prime as major players.

This is the progression and these are the players Flores and Grier have staked their jobs on.

It’s easy to see why all options are on the table that might help this franchise break through the glass ceiling hanging over it for two decades.
They haven’t won a playoff game since the 2001 season. Owner Stephen Ross is 81.

There’s no more time to waste.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

Dolphins schedule

THE EXTRA YARD: 5 Questions for Miami Dolphins Training Camp

As Training Camp starts, we finally get some answers to the questions that have built up over the offseason. While we had an idea, we didn’t have a real firm grasp on what to expect, once real football arrived. I take a deeper dive into the 5 most intriguing questions, we are seeking answers too during training camp.

How has the Offensive Line settled?

They drafted Liam Eichenberg. They moved 2nd year man Robert Hunt to right guard. They signed Matt Skura as the starter at center. DJ Fluker is in great shape, after coming off a couple of well above par NFL seasons. They return two promising 2nd year players in Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley. How does this all mesh? You gotta figure Jackson starts at LT. Hunt at RG. Skura at C. RT and LG is up for grabs and all three players (Eichenberg, Fluker, Kindley) can play either. This is before mentioning that Jesse Davis is still here, and does have a shot at grabbing one of these spots. This is the most intriguing battle of training camp, and could prove one of the most important factors to winning.

How do they use Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller?

Is it as simple as one is a diagonal threat, and the other a vertical threat? Is Waddle used as a HB more, does he begin to take Jakeem Grant’s jet sweeps, reverses, design passes? Does Will Fuller build on his elite 2020 season? All good questions, but you have to think the acquisition of both was to fill the design of what will be a new passing game, complete with real “roles” for all involved including DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson. My strong guess is that this will be a much more fluid and fast offense, with more switch releases, crossers/drags, with shot plays built in with every pass play.

What kind of command does Tua Tagovailoa have of the offense?

How quick is he in the huddle? Is he decisive within the offense. Does he take the deep shots when there? Most importantly, I want to see how he reacts to certain coverages, and how he processes checks when teams blitz him (which they will). His play in camp, as well as his dress rehearsals in the preseason will give us some answers in short order. I think the Dolphins will build in some two level concepts (one window, one lane, two routes, one medium, one long) as Tua did excel with those at times last season. The amount of RPO’s they call will also be interesting.

What does the rotation at defensive end look like?

The Miami Dolphins don’t have traditional “defensive ends” as most teams. They have guys to fill roles from 6 to 9 tech, as the Tackles tend to play everywhere from 0 tech, to 3 tech, to head up on the tackles as a 5 tech. What is usually fluid, is who rushes outside in their scheme, and who gets the duty outside on the rush on their multiple fronts. Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelen Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel, Vince Biegel, with some Jerome Baker thrown in, figure as players in these roles. Who gets the snaps? Who is more effective? Strong indication, that Phillips and Ogbah have the inside track, with AVG as the situational guy on 3rd downs, as Van Ginkel could be executing A Gap blitzes along with Baker.

Who, plays where, in the secondary?

We know who plays the boundary (Howard/Jones). At slot corner, you have options everywhere, including using Byron Jones who has excelled as a slot corner in the past. In fact, Byron Jones has also played Free Safety effectively, so the versatility is there. Nik Needham, Justin Coleman, have a legitimate battle there, and it seems the loser of that battle figures in dime coverages. At safety, you have to figure Eric Rowe sticks, but who plays in the 3 safety looks? Highly touted rookie Jevon Holland, has to have a role, and Brandon Jones figures to play a lot in 2021. Then, what are Jason McCourty, and 2nd year man Noah Igbinoghene doing? This is a talent laden group, and the clear strength of the team. It’s worth watching how this shakes out.

Well, we finally made it, and all these questions from the offseason, begin to get answers in the coming days, weeks, months.

 

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

 

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How the Top of the NBA Draft May Play Out

After the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship, that doesn’t mean the NBA calendar stops. The calendar goes on with free agency starting August 2nd but first the NBA draft happens July 29th. The draft is typically where teams are built that is especially the case with small market teams. In this draft there is certainly some difference makers at the top which is not the case every year. 

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#1 Detroit Pistons- The Pistons hold the number one overall pick following a 20-52 season this year. While they need some help and especially some stars to gain more fan attention, they have a couple nice pieces as well. Detroit signed forward Jerami Grant last summer from the Denver Nuggets in what now looks like a team friendly 3 year 60-million-dollar contract. In his first season with Detroit Grant averaged a career high 22.3 points per game and shot 35% from three on 6.1 attempts per game. Forward Saddiq Bey was a pleasant surprise for the pistons this year as well. After being acquired in a draft day trade from the Nets, Bey started 53 games as a rookie averaging over 12 points per game 4.5 rebounds per game. Bey landed on the All Rookie first team and finished fourth in rookie of the year.

If Detroit can add presumed #1 pick Cade Cunningham to the group, they can compete for a play in tournament spot sooner than later. In his one year at Oklahoma State Cunningham averaged 20.1 points to go along with 6.2 rebounds,3.5 assists and 84.6% from the free throw line. Cunningham shot 40% from three as well and Cade didn’t have much help on his team and still put up good numbers. Cade is a three-level scorer that any team in the league would be lucky to have and be an instant impact player. Cade had a performance vs eventual National Champion Baylor in the Big 12 tournament that showed just how great of a player he is. He scored 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Cade shot 7-16 from the floor and 4-10 from three but he turned it on in the second half scoring 20 of his 25 points and upsetting Baylor to reach the Big 12 conference championship.

Pair him with some pieces like Grant and Bey and you have a nice core. Cade controls the pace on the court very well similar to a guy like Luka Doncic does although Cade isn’t on that level as a passer. Cade is a no brainer at #1 and could set Detroit up for years of success in the eastern conference.

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#2 Houston Rockets- When James Harden forced his way out at the start of this season everything changed for Houston moving forward. Considering that Harden is without a doubt a top 10 player the return Houston got left a lot to be desired. They received a first round pick from Cleveland via Milwaukee and four first rounders and four pick swaps from the Nets. While that is a lot of draft ammo those picks won’t be very high as the Nets will be good as will the Bucks. A year prior Houston traded two firsts and two pick swaps to OKC for Russell Westbrook and while they were able to keep this pick as it was top 4 protected it still will be a problem moving forward in the draft.

That makes this pick incredibly important and Houston can’t miss with it. Houston is a more attractive free agent destination than some, but you still need good players for someone to want to come join as we’ve seen with the Knicks for years now. In today’s NBA you need a guard that can score at a minimum and that is where I think this pick should head towards. That player very well may be Jalen Green who played in the G-League last year after his high school career.

Last year in G League, Green averaged 17.9 points per game on 46.1% from the field and 36.5% from three. That is pretty good considering he was just 18 playing against players much older and experienced than him. With more volume and more reps Green will increase those numbers and only improve as a player. While Green may not be what James Harden was you need to find someone who can replace some of what he provided. Green can certainly do some of that and someone like Green will be attractive for free agents to come and play with. If you don’t have scoring from your backcourt, you stand no chance in the current NBA. Green can also score from all three levels which is extremely valuable with the volume in which the three-point shot is shot now.

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#3 Cleveland Cavaliers- Since LeBron James left in free agency during the 2018 summer the Cavs are 60-159. This is a big draft for Cleveland as they are a team that will need to build in the draft vs building in free agency. Cleveland even with LeBron has had problems attracting free agents. They need to draft someone they can build around and hopefully a star will want to play with them. They have drafted guards Darius Garland and Colin Sexton the last couple years, but they don’t seem to be a great fit together. There have been rumors that Sexton is on the trade block as he seeks a rookie extension. That could free up some space for Garland to be able to operate more in his space without Sexton clogging the backcourt next to him. The Cavs were able to get center Jarett Allen from Brooklyn in the James Harden trade for just a first round pick they obtained from Milwaukee. After joining Cleveland Allen averaged 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and over a block per game. That is a very nice piece for Cleveland but the problem with it is now Allen is a restricted free agent and seeking around 100 million dollars.

The Cavs may be better off letting someone else give him that money and agreeing to a sign and trade and getting a pick back. They are in a major rebuild and giving Allen that kind of money may not be the best choice for them. They are in a perfect spot to draft a versatile big Evan Mobley from USC with this pick. As good as Allen was Mobley brings more to the game than just points and rebounds like a traditional big. In his one season at USC Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks while shooting 57.8% from the field.

Mobley brings something to the table similar to Miami’s Bam Adebayo but even more offensive skill coming out of college. Bam is a great defensive player and Mobley may not be quite at that level, but I see some similarities and shows even more on offense than Bam. If Cleveland drafts Mobley at worst they have a guy that can hold down the big position for years to come and is a great foundation piece. Best case they found their next star and someone to build around. Cleveland hasn’t always taken the safe pick in the draft but if they do so this time it will pay off in some way at least.

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JRod’s Corner: Giannis’ Win Brings Back Facetime Talk

It seems like the talking heads on your favorite and maybe not so favorite sports outlets have been very concerned with who can and cannot be the face of a league.

Stephen A. Smith was lambasted for declaring that Angels phenom, Shohei Ohtani, could not be the face of Major League Baseball because he needs an interpreter. Cries of xenophobia rained down upon the pundit and he publicly apologized. While the lack of English may affect Ohtani’s marketing dollars, he is certainly the most popular player and the face of MLB with Fernando Tatis, Jr right behind him.

Now another commentator, Emmanuel Acho, says it is impossible for newly crowned NBA Champion, Giannis Antetokounmpo, to be the face of the NBA. Acho’s remarks were less anti-foreigner. Kinda.

Listening back to Acho’s segment — which Speak for Yourself has since deleted because the reaction was so negative — he says that to be the face of the NBA needs to be “relatable”. Really? What more relatable than the American dream? I guess Acho doesn’t view the NBA as an immigrant’s league. Antetokounmpo, who is from Greece, has been a twitter darling since his debut in 2013 posting about trying Kool-Aid, eating corn dogs and drinking smoothies for the first time.

But let’s get back to Acho’s “relatable” argument. He goes on to mention LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. They were the faces of the NBA because we knew their stories. The good, bad and ugly of it. And according Acho, we just don’t know much about Giannis.

At 26 years old, The Greek Freak has done it all in the NBA. Literally.

Five-time All-Star, two-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Champion, Finals MVP. He’s a Hall of Famer right now!

If Giannis keeps winning; we will know his stories. That’s why Bron, Kobe, Magic, Larry and MJ were the faces of the NBA and Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley were not. Championships.

Stephen A. and Emmanuel are cooking up hot takes. It’s their job. It’s show business. I get that. We’re going to seeing a lot more of Giannis. The endorsements are coming, the late-night TV shows, the books and even the movies. Ready or not it’s showtime meets facetime.

 

You can follow Jim Rodriguez at @JRodShow on Twitter and Instagram. 

 

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Can Mike Gesicki be a Top Five TE This Season?

All eyes will be on Tua, but will his lock on Mike Gesicki this season?

 

Entering a crucial fourth year, Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki looks to take the leap into the discussion as one of the game’s best.

So what will it take to get there?

In order to gain some perspective, a comparison to the best current NFL tight ends seemed like a nice place to start

Travis Kelce and now Darren Waller have emerged as the top two tight ends, with George Kittle still right there after an abbreviated season due to injury.

What Waller and Kelce have in common is an enormous target share, as both posted nearly identical numbers.

Waller led all NFL tight ends with 146 targets in 2020, with Kelce just behind him at 145.

The next highest tight end targeted was Logan Thomas with 110, while just two others broke 100 targets -Evan Engram (109) and  T.J Hockenson (101).

Targets are just one part of the equation, what you do with them matters.

Kelce and Waller both hauled in over 72% of their targets in 2020, while Gesicki caught slightly over 62% of his.

Many factors contribute to this, whether it be different quarterbacks throughout the year or execution in other areas.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of room for improvement.

 

Let’s run some numbers.

Say Gesicki can accumulate 100 targets and improve his catch percentage even slightly to 68%.

That sets a floor of 68 receptions, which would be 15 more than Gesicki had in 2020.

Where Gesicki has already shown a high ceiling in comparison to other tight ends is in yards-per-reception.

Last year Gesicki ranked third among tight ends with 13.3 yards-per-reception, ahead of Waller (11.2) and Kelce (13.1).

With 68 receptions and at the same yards-per-reception, that would put Gesicki over 900 yards receiving.

Now with a 17-game slate, this seems even more attainable.

Gesicki tied for fifth among tight ends with six touchdowns, averaging one about every nine receptions.

Increased targets and improved catch percentage could see him at eight or even nine scores in 2021.

A stat line of 68/900/8 would all have been top five marks in the NFL last year.

Add an improved quarterback and more deep threats in Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, Gesicki sits as a prime candidate for a breakout season.

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: Don Chaney Jr. poised to build off strong end to 2020

When you look at the Miami Hurricanes roster, they have a collection of talented running backs. Some are more talented than others. Some also have more experience than others. With five in total, one name I would pay attention to is Don Chaney Jr.

He was not the main back in the Miami rushing attack last year. Rather, he played in spurts, and played well. Jaylan Knighton and Cam’Ron Harris made up the bulk of the Miami rushing attack last year, leading Chaney to hardly see any action. Even still, he was able to shine towards the end of the year.

Take the contest against Duke on December 5. In that game, he recorded nine carries for 62 yards. A couple weeks later, he provided strong production in the Cheez-It Bowl. He recorded six carries for 50 yards including a 27-yard rush that was his longest of the evening. He was a bright spot in what was a dismal game overall.

In that game, he was able to put this full skillset on display. He ran hard, and he ran physically. Those two traits in particular were things that were missing from the Miami rushing attack for a good portion of last season. He also hit the holes hard ,and it was not afraid to bear all over defenders when he needed to.  With his performance in that game, he gave a potential preview what could be coming down the road.

His good end to last season is only one reason to be excited about his potential heading into 2021. The other reason is his impressive numbers in the weight room. Chaney told the media his squat was to 555 pounds, and his benchpress was up to 315 pounds. Those numbers are certainly not too shabby.

Between his good performance at the end of last season and work Chaney has put in this off-season, I see him having a breakout year. He could be a key piece for a Miami Hurricanes rushing attack that ranked seventh overall in the ACC in 2020. That number is not too shabby, but it’s one that can certainly be improved upon. Chaney could bring stability to that portion of the offense.

Chaney figures to be high on the depth chart for Miami in 2021, so he will have opportunities to prove himself. If he can show the same tenacity and physicality that he did at the end of last season, the starting running back job could be his for the taking  sooner rather than later.

 

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: Demarcus Van Dyke gaining momentum with Shemar Stewart looming

Th. Miami Hurricanes have started to see some commitments trickle in over the past couple of days, and they are still very much in play for some of others. One of those players is 2022 five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart.

Stewart is the seventh overall defensive end in his class, and the second overall player in his class from the state of Florida per the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

It’s worth noting that Miami is recruiting him via cornerbacks coach Demarcus Van Dyke as the primary recruiter. Van Dyke is on a little bit of a momentum swing as of late. He got cornerback Khamauri Rogers to commit on June 19.  He  also received a commitment from cornerback Chris Graves on July 9. In doing so, Miami has silently he can to put together an extremely strong group of corners.

This is certainly encouraging because corner has been a position that the Miami Hurricanes have struggled to recruit over the past couple of seasons. Now it is going to be a position of strength, assuming Miami develops them properly

This could bode well for Shemar Stewart

There have been a couple of developments over the past couple of days that have put Stewart a little bit into focus for Miami. For one,  Josh Newberg of 247Sports put in a “high confidence” score for Stewart in his Crystal Ball prediction on July 11. Andrew Ivins and Steve Wiltfong both have put in Crystal Balls for Miami as well, but they are “low confidence” scores. The newest Crystal Ball could be a telling sign.

Secondly, there is no denying that Van Dyke has generated a little bit personal momentum on the recruiting trail. I truly believe that this could work in Miami’s favor. One could argue that Miami received two commitments at corner because that was a position of need.

However, there is always a recruiting pitch that coaches tell recruits. Van Dyke’s seems to be working.  This could be another opportunity for him to strike while the proverbial iron is hot.

It will be interesting to see the correlation between Van Dyke’s success and Stewart’s recruiting process. It could be extremely evident, or it could not play a factor at all.

If Van Dyke can land another big recruit in the state of Florida, that would certainly reflect positively on him. Miami is going up against Georgia, Ohio State, and Texas A&M among others  for Stewart. It will certainly not be easy, but judging by his recent success, I can see him luring in another big fish.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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