With recently re-signed Jason Ferguson coming off a quadriceps injury and suspended for the first eight games, the Dolphins are eyeing the Draft for another nose tackle to develop and compete with Paul Soliai, who ``has played some pretty good centers pretty tough'' (according to Tony Sparano) but didn't grade out as well as Ferguson.
The problem is the Dolphins have so many other needs -- linebacker, safety, receiver -- it's uncertain if they will be able to address nose tackle with picks 12 or 43. Some buzz on nose tackles (we'll cover other needs in future columns):
• Tennessee's 6-3, 327-pound Dan Williams, once considered a late-first-rounder, has risen so much that ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Miami selecting him 12th. ``Getting Karlos Dansby frees the Dolphins to take Williams, who will help an improved linebacker corps by occupying blockers and disrupting the pass and running games,'' Kiper said.
But ESPN's K.C. Joyner, who graded Williams' 2009 work, said that though his ``upside is tremendous,'' he's inconsistent and won only one of 17 point-of-attack run blocks he faced versus UF and Auburn. Picking Williams 12th is ``way too high -- he wasn't a dominant player,'' said Sporting News analyst/ex-Browns scout Russ Lande.
Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com said, ``You could trade down and get him.'' But former Ravens/Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah of MoveTheSticks.com said Williams can be justified at No. 12 ``because of supply and demand. He can play all three downs. Terrence Cody can play only two.'' Miami booked private sessions with some top prospects (including Texas safety Earl Thomas) but had not with Williams as of Tuesday.
• Kiper's mock draft has Alabama's Cody at No. 28, though others have him going later. His agent said Miami shows interest, but no visit is scheduled. ``If Nick Saban had to battle him to stay in shape, how is it going to be once he has money in the bank?'' Lande said.
In Cody's defense, he's lost 21 pounds since January (to 349) and told Alabama staffers he will get to 340. ``You can question his weight or versatility, but he can make other players better,'' Kiper said.
• North Carolina nose tackle Cam Thomas (331 pounds) would be an option if he lasts to Miami's pick at 74, but Jeremiah warns ``he was not very good on tape.'' But ``as far as explosiveness, size and power, Thomas is there with Williams, though Williams is the better player,'' Lande said. In the middle rounds, keep an eye on UCF's Torell Troup (314), Georgia's Kade Weston (317), East Carolina's Linval Joseph (328) and LSU's Al Woods (309).
• There are several other tackles around 300 pounds who analysts said are better as 3-4 ends (not a Miami need) than at nose tackle, including two potential first-rounders (UCLA's Brian Price and Penn State's Jared Odrick) and Texas' Lamarr Houston and Georgia's Jeff Owens. Lande said Odrick would be ``adequate'' at nose in a 3-4 but not ideal.