With the hiring of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, the Miami Dolphins coaches can now turn their attention to several college all-star games this offseason to evaluate the incoming crop of rookies. The first is the Reese’s Senior Bowl, unofficially the kickoff of the pre-draft season, taking place down in Mobile, Alabama where practices begin this coming Monday with the game being on Saturday, January 25th.
Established in 1950, the Senior Bowl has been an annual showcase of college all-stars, all of which are seniors, divided into two teams. The two teams, the North and the South, are coached by two coaching staffs from the NFL. This year, the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff will be in charge, with the Falcons and head coach Mike Smith in charge of the North, and the Jaguars and head coach Gus Bradley coaching the South.
The game is nationally televised on the NFL Network, as the league will have coverage of both the game and practices during the week leading up to the game. But they won’t be the only media down in Mobile, as hundreds of media will descend down south to cover the game, including the Finsiders own John Congemi.
Senior Bowl rosters were released on Wednesday, and Congemi has his eyes on several prospects that will play in the game, but is focusing on one specific position that an obvious position of need for the Dolphins. The Fins offensive line gave up way too many sacks last season, and Congemi wants to get a look at the full group of prospects that could help shore up the trenches.
But there’s a local kid that Congemi wants to get a better look at. That would be University of Miami (FL) guard Brandon Linder, who’s also a product of the local football factory that is St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
“I’ve already seen him play a number of times. I want to see him go against maybe some of the top talent around the country,” said Congemi.
Another position grouping that Congemi is eager to get a look at down in Mobile is running back. The Dolphins ranked 26th in the league in rushing yardage with a backfield that was a timeshare between Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.
“I’m going to be looking at some of the running backs out there. You have James White, who’s a smaller body from Wisconsin who’s a lot like Giovani Bernard with the Cincinnati Bengals,” said Congemi. “He’s one of those guys, a local kid, that has that quick twitch movement, a guy that is going to make it at the next level”.
But he’s not just looking at scat backs. He’ll look at some of the big bruisers too.
“Some of the bigger bodies are Charles Sims from West Virginia and Carlos Hyde from Ohio State,” said Congemi. “I want to see those guys in person, because sometimes you get a false sense of security when you’re watching them on TV than when you’re watching them practice.”
There’s also a pair of players that applied their craft at the University of Virginia, where Lazor coached in the same capacity a couple years ago, that Congemi wants a look at.
“Morgan Moses, an offensive tackle from Virginia. He’s an enormous man,” said Congemi. “He’s 6’6 335lbs, and he’s mean. I’ve seen him play and I want to see him in person, and he’s someone Bill Lazor should know quite well coaching at Virginia.”
The other Cavalier that Congemi wants a look at? That’d be Brent Urban, a disruptive defensive lineman that got a chance to showcase his talents at Sun Life Stadium this season.
“Another one that he (Lazor) should know quite well is a guy named Brent Urban, a hybrid defensive lineman. He’s 6’7 300 lbs, and he gave Miami fits this year inside of Sun Life Stadium.”
But there’s one player in particular the Congemi definitely wants to watch down in Mobile. That would be defensive tackle Aaron Donald from Pitt, who causes havoc in opposing backfields. Donald had 28.5 tackles for a loss as a senior, and won four major collegiate individual defensive awards this year: The Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Outland Trophy.
“I wanna see a guy like Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh, a guy that’s undersized,” said Congemi. “I want to see if he can hold up with some of those bigger bodies. He did it for four years as a collegiate athlete. I want to see how he’ll hold up.”
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