Eight proCanes nvited to NFL Combine

Eight future proCanes received invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine, the Post learned.

Among them are six seniors – defensive end Anthony Chickillo, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, cornerback Ladarius Gunter, linebacker Denzel Perryman and tight end Clive Walford of Glades Central High – and two underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft.

Running back Duke Johnson and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, both juniors, will be in Indianapolis from Feb. 17-23.

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“I like Duke Johnson More Than Melvin Gordon,” Says NFL Draft Scout

CBS Sports and ESPN both have Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon as the top running back prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft but another draft guru thinks Miami’s Duke Johnson is the superior pro prospect.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller thinks Duke “should be a top-35 player in this year’s draft,” and shared his scouting observations with Omar Kelly and Channing Crowder on WQAM after watching some intriguing Hurricanes draft prospects practice and play at the Senior Bowl last week.

“I like Duke Johnson more than Melvin Gordon as a pro running back to be honest with you,” Miller said. “He’s gotten bigger every year. He’s not a huge guy but he runs with power. So explosive in the open field. Helps you out as a receiver.

“Everyone wants to compare Melvin Gordon to Jamaal Charles because he wears 25 and he’s got the dreads. I think Duke Johnson is a closer comparison to Jamaal Charles because that agilityicon1 and that world-class speed in the open field.”

Although Miller considers this draft weak in talent overall, he noted another Miami Hurricane as a standout at last week’s Senior Bowl in Mobileicon1.

“There were some standout guys, though, and Phillip Dorsett at the University of Miami is definitely one of them,” he said. “I thought he had a great practice every day, got better each day throughout the week as we saw him be coached up. Yeah he’s a small guy but he’s explosive in the open field, very good speed coming off the line of scrimmage, good hands over the middle, good hands down the field so he impressed me a lot.”

Also joining Dorsett and Johnson as solid pro prospects from Coral Gables are offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, defensive back Ladarius Gunter, linebacker Denzel
Perryman, and tight end Clive Walford. Under Al Golden those players won just six games last year, which is befuddling for Miller.

“You look at that talent and then you talk to people and it’s like how did this team win only six games because I thought the Miami guys were some of the besticon1 at their position all week [at the Senior Bowl],” Miller said. “I’m not an expert in the college football field but I think you have to point a finger to the head coach, who obviously can recruit but you have to get production out of those athletes.

“I grew up a Texas fan so I can relate to that — a coach who can recruit like none other but then doesn’t do a great job coaching them up — and so you have to wonder if Miami is in a similar situation with Al Golden of you’re going to get four or five-star kidsicon1 who end up being better in the NFL than they were in college and that’s kind of what ran Mack Brown out down at Austin.”

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Clive Walford lauded for route running, ball skills

Miami senior TE Clive Walford "routinely drew praise from the Jaguars coaching staff for his routes, athleticism and ability to finish at the catch point," wrote CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.

"He has an easy release off the line of scrimmage with the route acceleration to threaten the seam and be a downfield target. Warford doesn't have an elite frame for the position, but he knows how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and create mismatches down the field," Brugler wrote. "Warford entered the week in contention to be the No. 1 senior tight end drafted and he's only helped his chances of that happening through two practices in Mobile. He has looked 'as advertised' from his Miami game film." The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Walford, who could run the forty in the mid 4.6s, collected 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014.

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Philip Dorsett's 'blur' speed makes DBs look silly

Miami senior WR Phillip Dorsett is the "favorite to run the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine next month" and has the "blur" speed "to make defensive backs look silly," wrote CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.

"He has shown that sudden footwork at the line of scrimmage to beat press and the instant acceleration to win vertically downfield. Dorsett routinely won 1-on-1 drills against the South defensive backs, including his former teammate Gunter," Brugler wrote. Dorsett, who has been compared to Antonio Brown, John Brown and T.Y. Hilton, expects to run a 4.3 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. "However, there is such a thing as playing too fast and Dorsett will do that at times, losing footing or getting wild in his breaks," Brugler wrote. "Nonetheless, he has the game-changing speed to not only make an impact on offense, but also as a return man once he adds seasoning and polish to his game."

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Ladarius Gunter boasts good instincts, nose for ball

Miami senior CB Ladarius Gunter "has good instincts and is always around the ball," wrote ESPN's Todd McShay.

"I don't know if Gunter has elite top-end speed, but he has really good burst when closing on the ball," McShay wrote. "His strength and physicality really stand out, as he's willing to come up in run support and he excelled in red-zone drills (he stuck with his receivers and made a great play on a quick slant thrown to his teammate Dorsett, the most explosive receiver here)." The 6-foot-1 3/8, 200-pounder was "the most physical defender on the boundary" at the Senior Bowl, observed CBS Sports' Rob Rang. Gunter fits with the NFL's increased desire to find big corners to combat jumbo-sized receivers.

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Colts promote Rob Chudzinski to associate head coach

The Indianapolis Colts are keeping two critical pieces of their coaching staff intact for next season.

The first is Rob Chudzinski, the former Cleveland Browns head coach who served as a special assistant to Chuck Pagano this past season in Indianapolis. After Chudzinski recently received interest from the San Francisco 49ers regarding their offensive coordinator vacancy, the Colts on Tuesday announced they have given him a promotion and kept him in town. Chudzinski has agreed to a new contract with the Colts and will now work as the team's associate head coach.

"We're excited to keep Chud in our family," Pagano said in a team release. "He's been a critical part of our operation and we're looking forward to sharing even more success in the future."

An experienced coach of tight ends, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis -- brother of Colts cornerback Vontae -- took to Instagram to campaign for Chudzinski on Monday: "All I want for Christmas … is to meet #robchudzinski #OC"

That won't be happening — Chudzinksi is staying in Indianapolis, at least for another season.

Asked about denying opposing teams the chance to speak with Chudzinski last week, allowed to him under league rules, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson refused to go into specifics.

"Ultimately it's my job good people stay in this building and don't just walk right out," Grigson said. "We'll address that and keep good people here."

He has with Chudzinski and with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who interviewed with the Oakland Raiders in the hours following the Colts' 26-10 Wild Card win over Cincinnati on Jan. 3. The Raiders eventually went with Jack Del Rio as their new head coach.

Hamilton, with two years left on his contract, will return as the Colts' play-caller for a third consecutive season.

However, not all Colts coaches will be back next year. On Monday, the team also announced it had parted ways with running backs coach David Walker after four seasons with the team.

"We're grateful for David's contributions to the Colts' success over the last four years and wish him nothing but the best in the future," Pagano said in a statement.

In 2013, Walker's running backs rushed for the Colts' highest total since 2006 (1,743 yards). This season, the Colts ranked 22nd in the NFL in total rushing yards (1,612) and 25th in yards per carry (3.9).

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Michael Irvin to Miami fans: Give Golden a chance

Former Miami WR Michael Irvin said at Super Bowl Media Day that Hurricane fans should "calm their asses down" and give HC Al Golden a fair chance.

"I thought [keeping Golden] was the right move," Irvin said. "And guys, I've said this over and over again and I'll say it here again: Al Golden -- Coach Al Golden -- has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he's done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight. Tell me this. Where's the smarts in saying, 'Hey freshman [quarterback Brad Kaaya], we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we're going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.' It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him." Interestingly, Irvin's nephew Tim Irvin, a local Miami prospect and four-star athlete, enrolled at Auburn earlier this month. Golden is barely over .500 in four years at Miami and posted a 6-7 record in 2014. His seat isn't hot next year. It's an inferno.

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Vince Wilfork: Bill Belichick 'a little softer'

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Those around him say New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is driven, uncompromising and that he keeps his intentions well camouflaged behind a surrender-nothing, stoic expression.

But yet Vince Wilfork said Wednesday that Belichick is different for his sixth Super Bowl trip -- the defensive tackle used words like "more understanding" and "soft heart" to describe the coach.

"I think Bill had to do a good job of that ever since I've been in the league because we've changed so much," Wilfork said. "We were a veteran team. [Then] it was a younger team -- at one point we were the youngest team in the league. So I think he had to try to find the identity in what works for that team. And I think he's done a great job over the years of doing that.

"But at the end of the day, he is still Bill. He coaches the same way. He demands everything the same way. But I think he's got a little soft heart now. Over time, he got a little softer, though."

Wilfork, who was selected with the 21st pick of the 2004 draft, is in his 11th season with the Patriots. He and quarterback Tom Brady are the only players on New England's roster who played in Super Bowl XXXVIII to close out the '04 season. So he's covered some ground with Belichick along the way.

"Yeah, I've seen the difference in Bill in the 11 years that I have been here, and I tell him he is getting soft," Wilfork said. "But this is a different era of football now -- with how the team has shaped up and how a lot of guys are younger guys.

"You don't really have that veteran team that he used to have. When I first came in the league, he had a veteran team that didn't take much to get those guys going. But if I have to say anything, I think over the years he got a soft heart. He's more understanding now."

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Greg Olsen hasn't had extension talks yet

Greg Olsen said he hasn't had any substantial contract extension talks with the Panthers yet.

Olsen's deal is not a priority as he's signed through the 2015 season. It would also be silly for the Panthers to "buy high" right now as the tight end is coming off a career-best season at age 29. We wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers make Olsen play out 2015 as a contract-year player, ensuring he's highly motivated as the No. 2 pass-game weapon behind Kelvin Benjamin.

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Tony Dungy Recalls Funny Story about Devin Hester's Kickoff Return Touchdown in Super Bowl vs. Colts

On February 4, 2007, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears were playing in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.  It would be a sixty-minute game to determine the NFL champion and one of the teams would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when it was done.  The Colts were two weeks removed from the largest comeback in conference championship game history and the greatest game in Colts history, as they came back to defeat the Patriots 38-34.

As you might have guessed, the Colts were pretty pumped up for that Super Bowl game, which would be their first since 1971 - well before they had moved to Indianapolis.  The night before the game, head coach Tony Dungy stood in front of his team and passionately implored his team to fight, to stick together, talked to them about honor, etc. - nothing abnormal, but he also noted that the Colts would have to weather a storm at some point on Super Bowl Sunday in order to win.
The team was absolutely pumped up.  And Tony Dungy was too.  As he recalled on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week (per the Chicago Sun-Times), that resulted in a change in the team's game plan.

"We had decided all week that we were not going to kick the ball to Devin Hester," Dungy said on the show. "That night after the meeting, I thought that was playing scared. So, the next morning as we're going to the game, I told the team I hope we lose the toss because if we do, we're going to kick it right down the middle to Hester. We're going to pound him. Then, they know we've taken their best threat.  They're going to be finished.

"Thirteen seconds later he was in the end zone," Dungy continued. "Everybody is looking at me saying, who's that? I went back and said to them, I told you we'd have a storm."

It's a funny story now looking back on it, but it wasn't a good way to start the game at all for the Colts, as the league's best return man took it to the house on the opening kickoff - the first time in Super Bowl history that had happened.  The Colts learned their lesson after that, but it's a funny story to hear now from Dungy - especially because, despite the early kickoff return, the Colts won 29-17 over the Bears and hoisted the Lombardi later that night.

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Warren Sapp's Media Day pants are ridiculous

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Vince Wilfork remains the Patriots' rock as he goes for his second ring

PHOENIX -- Newton’s Third Law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

Newton’s Third Law? Rickey Bethel begs to differ. Don’t worry; you’re not supposed to know who Rickey Bethel is. He’s a campus policeman at Florida Atlantic University, if you were wondering, but today we are concerned only with what he was. Back then, 16 years ago, Bethel was a scrawny, 130-pound high schooler, the quarterback-in-waiting at Santaluces High in Lantana, Fla. As a freshman, Bethel made varsity, with the expectation he’d start a year later. He was talented, and one teammate took it upon himself to make sure he was ready.

That teammate was Vince Wilfork, Vince Wilfork before Miami, before the Patriots, before the Super Bowls. The junior defensive tackle (and offensive lineman, and occasional punter, but we’ll get to that a bit later) had known Bethel and his family for years, and he looked at the young quarterback like a little brother. He saw his talent, thought he was the player his team needed at quarterback, and so he decided to send each of his close to 300 pounds flying at Bethel. Once, twice, dozens of times over the course of his freshman season, the quarterback was pancaked out of the blue.

“It was crushing,” Bethel recalls, laughing. “I used to just keep a smile on my face. I always would try to make it feel like it didn’t hurt as much."

And so he would crumple. “When I saw him coming,” Bethel explains, “usually I would just go with it.” There was no equal and opposite force. There was only giving in; to take a hit from Wilfork -- who has the highest BMI of any player in this year’s Super Bowl -- is to think only of survival. It is to bend, to scrunch, to fold. This is the physics of pain.

You see, even when Wilfork was an eighth grader, his frame dropped jaws. His high school coach, Ray Berger, recalls the hype during the spring before Wilfork hit high school; even his father, David, had a brag or two to share with the coach, but Berger discredited it all. This was just a case of too-proud parents, he thought, and kids prone to hyperbole. And then Wilfork showed up to play.

He weighed about 255 pounds at the time, Berger says, and the coach recalls the teenager resembling a grown man. “He just had the broad shoulders, the thickness,” Berger explains. “He had a baby face, but other than that, everything was solid.”

By his senior year, Wilfork played nearly every role he could. He took snaps on offense and defense, convinced his coach to let him punt -- an errant snap and Wilfork lumbering after the loose ball ended that experiment quickly -- and was the unofficial team motivator. That’s why he wouldn’t stop hitting Bethel, not even after he ascended to the starting job, not even when Berger told him to cut it out. That’s how he found himself wrestling his brother during an intersquad scrimmage.

He wanted his teammates to be the best. He wanted to test them, to stretch their limits.

He didn’t want them to crumble. He wanted them to push back.

Momentum is mass in motion, an object’s mass times its velocity.

If a man can be reduced to physics, then that is Wilfork: some 325 pounds of mass in the most surprising of motion. He’s older now, 33, and slower after tearing his Achilles a season ago, but the things that made the five-time Pro-Bowler into the anchor of this Patriots' defense over the past decade remain in his repertoire. He fills gaps. He can handle multiple offensive players at once, freeing up teammates for mismatches, and unlike most men of his (immense) size, he’s no slouch at running down a quarterback. He’s still catlike in his responses and footwork, too; talk to any teammate or coach, past or present, about Wilfork, and that is the adjective they hold in common for this elephant of a man.

“A lot of guys can make tackles and make plays at the point of attack, right on somebody,” Butch Davis, who recruited Wilfork to Miami, says. “But [guys like Vince], you’d see these guys making tackles on the sidelines.”

Just ask Mike Tolbert about momentum. He’s the Chargers fullback who tried to haul Wilfork down after a 2011 interception. He wasn’t fast enough -- despite being four years younger and 80 pounds lighter -- and found himself flung to the sideline as Wilfork cruised into the end zone.

Or ask Darren McFadden, who two weeks later got the same treatment. The Raiders running back managed to get ahold of his target, as much as any two arms can grasp around perhaps the NFL’s girthiest posterior, but that wasn’t enough to bring Wilfork down. He gained another seven yards with McFadden waving behind him in the wind.

It’s momentum, too, that has brought Wilfork here, to the end of his 11th season, to what he hopes will be his second Super Bowl victory. It’s been a decade since the last, after his rookie year, when the Patriots squeaked by the Eagles, 24-21. Only two players remain from that championship team: Wilfork and Tom Brady, and this week, hours will be devoted to chewing on the dynasty Brady and Bill Belichick have built. The quarterback will smile and the coach will grunt paragraphs from your sixth-grade science textbook, and Wilfork, he’ll just sit at his podium, smile, talk about his children and his wife and the woman he pulled out of a wrecked car two weeks ago. Ho-hum.

But to take Wilfork for granted would be remiss. In fact, to talk about Brady and Belichick without even a mention of the team’s second longest-tenured player is to ignore the defense that’s kept the Patriots playing into February in four of Wilfork’s 11 seasons. “Vince is just as important as Brady,” former Patriots running back Corey Dillon says, and he just might be right.

Although New England’s reputation in recent years has been more focused on Brady’s arm and the aura of Gronk, it’s not been long since the Patriots had the fourth-best defense in the league. That was 2007, the 16-0 campaign and the second year in a stretch during which Wilfork and company ranked sixth, fourth, 10th and 11th in total defense. They weren’t the best unit in the NFL, but with offenses like the Patriots posted over that stretch, their defense did more than enough to keep them perennial Super Bowl contenders.

Then came 2013. New England’s defense had been wavering, and when Wilfork tore his Achilles in September, things devolved. The unit finished the year ranked 26th in total yards and 30th against the run, marking just the second season since Wilfork’s rookie season that the group had not finished in the top half of the NFL in run defense.

This season, though, the Patriots are back. Their star defensive tackle’s prime might be behind him, but he’s healthy, and New England’s defense finished 13th in total yardage, ninth against the run. On the season, Wilfork logged 19 quarterback hurries, 39 tackles and a sack in his return. The numbers aren’t what they were even three years ago, but on a team full of Super Bowl first-timers, Wilfork’s experience will count for nearly as much as his hits in the leadup to Sunday’s game.

“To get to this point and be able to have a chance to become a world champion, I mean, it’s special,” Wilfork says. “You have to do everything in your willpower to make that happen.”

“Nothing is given to you,” he adds a day later. “Everything you do you have to earn. There’s a price to pay for everything. … Sometimes I do things that might be impossible, and I find it out the hard way. Nothing wrong with trying.”

Newton’s First Law: Objects will remain in their state of motion unless a force acts to change the motion.

Gibraltar. It’s the giant rock that juts out of the sea south of Spain, and it’s the first word that drawls out of Davis’ mouth. What does Wilfork mean to the Patriots? He’s Gibraltar, this prehistoric beast of a rock, wide and tall, historically impossible to overtake, decidedly not in anything approaching motion. It’s as if it’s been there since the beginning of time, just as it’s a study in ancient history to recall Wilfork before his Patriots uniform.

“They just kind of built around him,” Davis continues, and he’s right. To consider Wilfork on the field is to speak of his surprisingly nimble movements and the speed that defies his size, but in a more meta sense, the defensive tackle’s career has been marked not by movement, but by standing still. Unlike many big-name Patriots before him, he has not moved on, although he came close last spring, when he reportedly asked for his release before restructuring his deal. Still, team and tackle have always been able to agree on a price tag, and over time the Patriots became the force that changed the motion, that said, no, stay here, be our rock.

It’s been more than 12 years since Wilfork’s parents passed away, but he continues to speak of them often, of the values they instilled. He takes “family first” to a new level, even offering parenting tips to some of his coaches, tips he undoubtedly learned from his own mother and father. David Sr. attended almost every one of his son’s high school practices despite battling kidney disease, and over time, he became the unofficial team dad. He’d drive anyone who needed a ride home in his minivan, and the Wilfork household was always a place to stop for water or snacks. When David Sr. passed away in 2002, his relationship with his son’s team remained so close that Berger spoke at his funeral.

And so it’s no shock that Wilfork assumed the role he has on the Patriots. If he isn’t the team dad, then he’s certainly the defense’s father figure, and though he may not speak in quantity, the advice he does give in his booming undertone is of the must-heed quality.

“He’s direct,” former teammate Jarvis Green says. “He knows what he has to do. He knows what he wants. He’s got that voice, that when he wants something done, he speaks.”

Patrick Graham, the Patriots linebackers coach who coached the team’s defensive line in 2012 and 2013, is only two years older than Wilfork, and he admits that to claim he’s made Wilfork a better player would be remiss. Really, he says, Wilfork made him a better coach. If the veteran didn’t like a play he’d installed, he’d never question Graham in front of other players. Instead, he’d wait until the meeting ended and his teammates had dispersed, and he’d offer his opinion. Graham, more often than not, would defer.

And then there were the film sessions. To teach young players their positions, teams show highlights of the best. Look at this Hall of Famer, look at his speed, his cuts, how he reads this offense. Explanation is often necessary, but not when Graham coached the defensive line. No, he’d just pop in the tape, let the action unfold, and if his players had questions, they could turn to its star. They were watching Wilfork, after all.

By now, though, the highlight reel may be complete. To play at an elite level after an Achilles injury and at Wilfork’s age is no small feat, and if the Patriots are going to get their rock one final ring, this is their best chance. Just don’t tell Wilfork; for as much as he concedes his football mortality, he refuses to regress to expectations. A year ago, he read the studies about players returning from Achilles injuries at his age and size. The results: not pretty. But that didn’t matter, didn’t affect his mindset as he launched into rehab and planned his path back. The science was irrelevant.

“Sometimes,” Wilfork concedes. “I tell people I’m not human.”

And so the body set in motion crushes all other forces. It moves and yet is still. It defies physics, but if Vince Wilfork isn’t human, do physics even apply?

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3 Future proCanes Named In ESPN's Top 10 Senior Bowl players

1. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (FL) Hurricanes
He was the fastest player in Mobile this week -- by a lot -- and he might be the fastest player in the 2015 class. His ability to accelerate off his cuts is a trait he shares with all of the NFL's elite speed threats (I compared it Wednesday to in-his-prime Chris Johnson). But it's about more than just speed with him. He plays under control, getting in and out of his breaks quickly to create separation, and he has very good ball skills.

3. Clive Walford, TE, Miami (FL) Hurricanes
This isn't a great class of tight ends, and Walford has a chance to capitalize by being one of the first ones to go off the board. Speed was a question mark entering this week, but he showed plenty of it to go with very good athleticism, size (6-4, 254 pounds) and ball skills. Moreover, he can hold his own as an inline blocker, adding to his versatility.

10. Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami (FL) Hurricanes
I don't know if Gunter has elite top-end speed, but he has really good burst when closing on the ball. His strength and physicality really stand out, as he's willing to come up in run support and he excelled in red-zone drills (he stuck with his receivers and made a great play on a quick slant thrown to his teammate Dorsett, the most explosive receiver here). He has good instincts and is always around the ball.

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Denzel Perryman Moves Into First Round?

MOBILE, Ala. -- So how many first-round picks were on display at the Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Saturday?

NFL Media analysts provided a list of eight with that kind of potential: Washington DL Danny Shelton, LSU OL La'el Collins, Pittsburgh OL T.J. Clemmings, Iowa DL Carl Davis, Miami LB Denzel Perryman, Miami WR Phillip Dorsett, Utah DE Nate Orchard and Auburn WR Sammie Coates. But one, in particular, will need to solidify that status with a strong 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month.

"Perryman, I think is a first-round inside linebacker if he runs well at the combine," NFL Media's Mike Mayock said.

Perryman returned to action for the final practice on Thursday after missing some practice time with an abdominal injury earlier in the week, but did not play Saturday.

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Phillip Dorsett shooting for 4.29 40-yard dash at combine

Looking for an early favorite to run the top 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month?

Three possibilities surfaced Saturday night on the Reese's Senior Bowl broadcast on NFL Network, as analyst Mike Mayock suggested three wide receivers -- Miami's Phillip Dorsett, Ohio State's Devin Smith and Auburn's Sammie Coates -- had a different gear than all the rest on hand for the game.

"(Dorsett) said he's shooting for a 4.29," Mayock said. "All three of those guys could be in the 4.3 range and might compete to become the fastest official 40 time in recent history."

Of course, the 84 underclassmen entering the draft will have plenty to say about the top 40 time, as well. But if Dorsett can run the time he told Mayock he is aiming for, he'll be tough to beat. Dorsett caught 36 passes for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final season with the Hurricanes, a whopping average of 24.2 yards per catch. He was unavailable for the actual Senior Bowl game due to an injury, but was arguably the most impressive receiver during the practice week.

At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, Coates would certainly turn heads with a time in the 4.3-range, which is typically occupied by smaller receivers and cornerbacks. Coates just missed a touchdown catch from Blake Sims in the Senior Bowl, getting just one foot in bounds rather than the two feet required in the NFL.

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Jimmy Graham's goalpost dunk in Pro Bowl

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham went into halftime of the Pro Bowl Sunday with just two receptions, one of which was a touchdown. However, he made sure to make the highlight reel with something he didn't do during the 2014 season -- dunk over the goalpost crossbar.

Graham, playing for Team Irvin, caught the 6-yard touchdown pass from Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. After the dunk, Graham celebrated with his Saints teammate, Mark Ingram, in the endzone. 

With just about three minutes to go in the game, Graham caught his second TD, this time from Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

Team Irvin won the game, 32-28, and Graham finished the game with three grabs for 30 yards and two touchdowns and two dunks.

Graham said he wanted to catch a TD in the Pro Bowl because it's the game he can now dunk in "without a flag," but the NFL asked him not to hang on the crossbar.
Check out the first goalpost dunk below:

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Clive Walford seen as a 'complete' tight end

NFL.com's Charles Davis believes Miami senior TE Clive Walford "has a chance to be a complete tight end."

"No matter who was covering Walford this week, the tight end was making plays," Davis wrote. "Many people think he's the top tight end in this draft, and he showed why this week. He's excellent getting off the line of scrimmage and runs routes well. Walford showed off an arsenal of subtle fakes that leave defenders hanging in coverage, which allows him to gain a step and run. At 6-4, 258, I think he's big enough to handle blocking in-line." NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said earlier this week that Walford is "the most explosive tight end in this year's draft." The analyst was impressed with Walford's versatility and said he expected the TE to run a 40-yard dash around 4.65, which Mayock said would be "tremendous" for his size.

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Greg Olsen shines in Pro Bowl with two TD catches

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen proved he deserved to be in the Pro Bowl after waiting eight years to get there.

Olsen caught a pair of touchdown passes and was the target for a potential game-winner on Sunday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

His first Pro Bowl catch was a 17-yard touchdown from Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck in the first quarter.

He added a 10-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter from New Orleans’ Drew Brees in which officials overturned their original ruling that both of his feet weren’t down in the end zone.

With less than a minute remaining, Olsen was the target of an Andy Dalton fourth-down pass near the end zone that fell short.

Olsen wasn’t on the winning team as teammate Luke Kuechly was in the 32-28 victory for Team Irvin over Team Carter. But he wasn’t complaining after catching three passes for 52 yards.

“Two touchdowns . . . the only thing that would’ve been better is win the game,” Olsen told the Charlotte Observer after the game. “But the whole week was just awesome, whether you win or lose. The whole week was amazing. It was an awesome opportunity to come out here.”

The game also was an example of why Olsen has had trouble getting noticed in the Pro Bowl voting. NFC South rival tight end Jimmy Graham of New Orleans also had two touchdown catches, including the game-winner with 3:10 remaining.

Graham is considered one of the top two tight ends in the NFL along with New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Prior to this season, Olsen also was overshadowed by NFC South tight end Tony Gonzalez, who retired after making his 14th Pro Bowl last season.

But Olsen showed there’s no doubt he has reached elite status by his performance in the game and with his season. He led the Panthers in receiving with a career-high 84 catches for 1,008 yards.

Kuechly also showed why he is one of the top linebackers in the league. In his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, he had seven tackles and called the defensive signals when he was on the field.

He also didn’t have any awkward moments against Olsen as he had in last year’s all-star game with teammate Mike Tolbert, who bowled past Kuechly’s side for the game-winning touchdown.

“He didn’t catch any on me, so we’re good,’’ Kuechly told the Observer, speaking of Olsen. “That’s all I was looking for. I was hoping they were going to throw one his way. I was going to try to get my hands on it. They didn’t do it. He caught two touchdowns, played well.”

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Ray Lewis says Patriots should have an asterisk next to Super Bowl win

After saying the tuck rule was the " only reason we know Tom Brady ," the former Raven is back with more to say about the New England team. On ESPN's Pro Bowl pregame show, Lewis mentioned the warning the NFL gave Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch regarding his gold cleats , and mentioned the Patriots wins are tainted at this point.

"Marshawn Lynch, the league clearly said to him, 'If you come out of the tunnel with those shoes on, we will not only suspend you for this game, but we will suspend you for the Super Bowl.' Now we're back at another place where we let a team go into an AFC championship, and if it's proven that they played with deflated balls ... because if it's not cheating, then the Colts should have had the same option to play with the same balls. So we're at a place now where we're going to celebrate an organization once again, put an asterisk by it, because they went into a championship game."

Lewis was once under national attention for something other than the hard hits he delivered on the field. The former linebacker has been accused of murder, and later cheating by using a banned substance . He's not the first person that comes to mind when honesty and integrity are brought up.

For those who think his comments are merely based on his former, and perhaps still current, rivalry with the Patriots, he reassures that is not the reason.

“Every time we talk about the Patriots, you have the Patriots fans … you get all the talk about the jealousy of them and all that," Lewis said. "I won two Super Bowls, I’ve been Defensive Player of the Year, I’ve been MVP of the Super Bowl, I’ve went to New England and won so I’m not jealous of them at all."

Lewis does have all of that going for him, but his rant has a "people who live in glass houses" type of vibe.

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Phillip Dorsett wins with speed, just like his idol, Santana Moss

MOBILE, ALA. Growing up near Miami, Phillip Dorsett loved Santana Moss’ style. Moss was a small receiver, but boy, could he run. He also had the consummate Miami swagger, and playmaking ability to boot.

So imagine Dorsett’s elation years later when Moss, a star receiver for Washington, told Dorsett — then a receiver at Miami — that he reminded him of himself.

“It meant a lot,” Dorsett said. “I grew up watching Santana, he always was my favorite player. I talk to him all the time. I’ve got his number, we shoot (each other) texts, and when he comes in the offseason, I see him in the weight room and we talk a lot.”

So perhaps it’s fitting that Dorsett, at 5 feet 9 5/8 and 183 pounds, is earning faintly similar raves to the ones Moss received leading up to the 2001 draft, with blazing speed — Moss ran a 4.31 40-yard dash during the combine and was selected 16th overall by the New York Jets — being the most obvious trait they share.

“Just in the time it took us to say his name he already finished the 100 (meter dash),” NFL.com draft analyst Charles Davis joked about Dorsett. “God, he can fly. And he’s very smooth in doing it, too, very smooth in acceleration. I really enjoyed watching him.”

Dorsett declined to predict how fast he’ll run at the combine, but NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah opined this week leading into Saturday’s Senior Bowl that Dorsett might be the fastest player in the entire draft.

“Dorsett has just got ludicrous speed, to quote ‘Spaceballs,’ ” Jeremiah said.

Dorsett showed it off as a senior, too, catching 36 passes for 871 yards — a per-catch average of 24.2 yards — and 10 touchdowns. Most of that had to do with his explosiveness; the rest had to do with the scheme.

“Lot of posts, go-routes, ran a couple of digs,” Dorsett said of his typical route tree. “But (other stuff) wasn’t really in the playbook that much. We liked to run the ball a lot and play-action pass and take shots. We got greedy all the time, but that’s our offensive coordinator, that’s how he is — a great guy, a great coach.”

But just because Dorsett’s offensive coordinator, James Coley, didn’t call on his fleet-footed star to run the intermediate stuff, doesn’t mean Dorsett can’t do it.

“I put a lot of work into it,” Dorsett said of his route running. “I’ve always been a guy that can win routes, I just never got a chance to show it at Miami because we didn’t run many intermediate routes. Just being here (in Mobile), having a base playbook and (running) the routes we’re going to run at the next level is a blessing. I’m glad I got a chance to do it.”

That said, Dorsett has been motivated to dispel any notions about his skill-set at Senior Bowl practices this week.

“I’m trying to be a complete receiver, not just a one-trick pony,” Dorsett said. “Show I can do the dirty work, make the tough catches, run good routes … I feel like I showed this week that I can run them all.”

Still, Dorsett knows that at his size, he will always need to be diligent about improving his technique against press coverage.

“I’ve always been a guy that can beat it, but in the NFL, you’ve got bigger and longer corners with more technique, more experience,” Dorsett said; “So just perfecting that (is important) at the next level.”

Still, Dorsett’s game-breaking speed should be attractive for myriad NFL teams, including the Chiefs, who interviewed him this week.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid boasts a notoriously complicated playbook that sometimes forces receivers to adjust their routes based on coverages, but Dorsett says he has plenty of experience doing that.

“I’ve always been a small receiver, I know coverages,” Dorsett said. “I’ve always had to adjust to different coverages.”

Dorsett is ranked as the No. 72 overall player in the draft by ESPN and No. 134 by CBS Sports. That puts him in the second, third or fourth-round range, where draft analysts like Davis feel like he can make an immediate contribution, just like former Miami teammate Allen Hurns — an undrafted free agent who caught 51 passes for 677 yards and six touchdowns for the Jaguars — did this season.

“It’s funny because we had Allen Hurns from Miami last year at the East-West Shrine Game, and people didn’t talk about him much,” Davis said. “But remember how he showed up real early in the season? I think Dorsett is a better player than that. A much better player.”

And while expecting Dorsett to be the next Moss — a 14-year pro who has carved out a very nice career in the NFL despite his size — is unfair, Davis said Dorsett can fit in practically any scheme.

“Yeah, I could see him fitting anywhere,” Davis said. “Because anyone that has that kind of speed and can’t figure out how to use him is a lousy coach.”

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Ladarius Gunter makes strong showing at Senior Bowl

MOBILE - In a Senior Bowl where University of Miami players were more likely to find their names on the injury report rather than the stat sheet, Hurricanes cornerback Ladarius Gunter made a big impact in the secondary for the South squad on Saturday.

Gunter had the best statistical performance of any of the corners, North or South, and answered the bell each time he had to make a tackle in the open field. Gunter registered four tackles, the most of any of the corners.

Gunter entered the game as potentially a fourth-round draft pick, but he might have improved his standing by again showing how physical he can be at 6-2, 198 pounds.

He provided one of the biggest defensive plays of the game for the South on the final play of the first half. Gunter was called for pass interference on the previous play on a throw intended for Ohio State receiver Devin Smith to give the North a first-and-goal at the South 1.

Instead of trying to punch it in, the North chose to throw it, and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion tossed the ball out wide to Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Gunter made Mannion pay for the poor choice, and Abdullah was immediately put to the ground by Gunter short of the goal line.

Time ran off the clock, and Gunter’s tackle kept the North’s lead at 10-7 at halftime.

Abdullah ended up being the game’s MVP with seven carries for 73 yards as the North won 34-13 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The only other UM player to suit up Saturday was tight end Clive Walford, who had one catch for 10 yards in the first half.

Walford’s day didn’t last long after he sustained a hip pointer that sent him to the locker room. He watched the rest of the contest from the sideline in a sweater and baseball cap.

Even though he didn’t get much action Saturday, Walford left pleased with his week in Mobile after taking part in each of the practices.

“I showed my versatility, being able to be an every-down tight end, catch the ball and block,” Walford said.

Walford was UM’s leading receiver this season with 44 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Hurricanes’ leader in receiving yardage, Phillip Dorsett, didn’t play at all on Saturday after pulling in 36 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns for coach Al Golden this season.

Dorsett didn’t play Saturday because of a knee injury, according to a Senior Bowl spokesman.

He was joined on the injury report by Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, who was inactive because of an abdominal strain.

Dorsett’s absence in Saturday’s game likely won’t hurt him in the eyes of scouts. He was labeled the fastest player at Senior Bowl practices last week and could be the fastest player in the entire draft.

Walford and Perryman are both projected as possible second- or third-round selections.

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Clive Walford may be moving up draft boards

Scout's Inc. writes that Miami senior TE Clive Walford "got some ability as an inline blocker, has a wide strike zone and can really catch the football."

"He has great size at 6-4, 254 pounds, with long arms and big hands, and he was very productive this season," wrote Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl. "The question for him was whether he had enough speed to succeed at the NFL level, but he ran well on Wednesday. He is the most athletic tight end here this week, and as teams have the chance to watch his tape, he could move up the board in an otherwise mediocre tight end class." NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock called Walford "the most explosive tight end in this year's draft." Walford posted 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

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Denzel Perryman impressed at Senior Bowl practices

Scout's Inc. reports that Miami senior LB Denzel Perryman was a standout at Senior Bowl practices.

"He diagnosed plays quickly against the run in the nine-on-seven period and showed good awareness in zone coverage in the seven-on-seven period," wrote Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl. "He showed explosive closing power both as a tackler and in taking on blocks, and displayed good range. We like what we've seen from him on tape, as well. He has spent some time in our top 32 this season." He has drawn comparisons to former Badger Chris Borland -- drafted in the third round by the Dolphins -- though NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah believes Perryman will be drafted higher than Borland was. Perryman boasts a stocky 6-foot, 243-pound frame, and he runs a 4.72 forty.

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Philip Dorsett's speed reminds of Chris Johnson

Scout's Inc. observes that what stands out about Miami senior WR Phillip Dorsett "is that he has under-control speed."

"Some guys are burners in a straight line but can't gear down or get in and out of breaks under control enough to catch the ball. That isn't the case with Dorsett, who possesses every quality you want in a deep speed threat," wrote Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl. "One thing that all of the NFL's elite home-run threats all share -- whether they are running backs or wide receivers -- is the ability to accelerate off of their cuts. We saw that with Dorsett on Wednesday, as he ran a shorter route, snatched the ball out of the air on the fly, made a guy miss and then accelerated off his cut. It reminded us of Chris Johnson. We were blown away watching him weave in and out of traffic at full speed; he is just so good with the ball in his hands." The Scout Inc. team concludes with a statement surprising in its optimism for the prospect: "We didn't know he was this good. He could find himself solidly in the Day 2 of the draft range."

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Clive Walford builds on regular season momentum

Miami senior TE Clive Walford "showed he's healthy and continues to gain momentum following an impressive regular season," wrote NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein

"Despite missing Miami's bowl game after having surgery for a knee injury, Walford suited up and played well at this week's practices," Zierlein wrote. "Several scouts believe he will be one of the top two tight ends off the board in this year's draft. Walford was adequate as a blocker and looked athletic this week." NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock, who recently said Walford is "the most explosive tight end in this year's draft," expects the tight end to run a 40-yard dash around 4.65. The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Walford logged 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

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Greg Olsen in line for big raises

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Carolina Panthers’ only two Pro Bowl players had a big impact on Sunday’s game, and are in line for big raises.

Tight end Greg Olsen and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly are both under contract for 2015, but could potentially be free agents after the season.

It was the capper to another strong season for Olsen, who established career highs and broke his own records for a Panthers tight end with 84 receptions for 1,008 yards.

Olsen ranked behind the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski (1,124) in receiving yardage among tight ends, and his catches were third-most by a tight end, trailing Chicago’s Martellus Bennett (90) and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham (85).

Olsen, 29, signed a contract extension with the Panthers after he was acquired in a trade with Chicago before the 2011 season. He renegotiated the deal in 2013 to give the Panthers some salary cap relief.

Olsen said he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have yet to have any substantial contract talks with the Panthers, but he hopes something can get done before the start of the season.

“We’ll see how the offseason goes. There haven’t been any really major developments on that front,” Olsen said after the game Sunday. “Of course, I would love to finish my career there. I’d love to be able to get something done going into this season and know that I’ll be a part of the team for a while.”

Olsen has been the most productive tight end in Panthers’ history over the past three seasons, although he tends to get overshadowed by tight ends such as Graham, Gronkowski and – until he retired last season – Tony Gonzalez.

This was Olsen’s first Pro Bowl appearance in his eight seasons.

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had good opportunities to be able to continue to put up consistent numbers, just continue to kind of fly under the radar compared to some of the other guys. But that’s fine,” Olsen said. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty consistent member of our team for a while. I think I can continue to play at that level for a while still.”

Graham became the league’s highest-paid tight end last summer when he signed a four-year, $40 million deal, which included $21 million guaranteed.

The agreement ended a protracted contract dispute after the Saints placed the franchise tag on him. Graham argued he should have been tagged at the wide receiver threshold (a $5 million difference), but an arbitrator sided with the Saints.

Olsen said he would not make a similar argument.

“That’s not something I would challenge,” he said. “I’m a tight end.”

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Vince Wilfork fined $8268

While “deflate-gate” continues to dominate the headlines when it comes to the New England Patriots, there is actually other news concerning the team. According to NFL’s Media’s Ian Rapoport Friday, Patriots defensive tackle will be a little light in the pocket when he takes off for Arizona on Tuesday. Wilfork was fined $8, 268 for a late hit in the second quarter of Sunday’s AFC title game.

Ironically, it was Wilfork’s 15-yard penalty that helped lead Andrew Luck and the Colts to their only score in the 45-7 rout at Gillette Stadium. It was after that same game that Wilfork became a real-life hero for his quick reaction in pulling a woman from her car after it had been overturned and trapper her.

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Ladarius Gunter brings phyiscal play to Senior Bowl

Miami senior CB Ladarius Gunter has unquestionably been "the most physical defender on the boundary" at the Senior Bowl, observed CBS Sports' Rob Rang.

"At 6-foot-1 3/8, 200 pounds, Gunter is more vulnerable to smaller, quicker receivers and he was beaten on occasion by them, including by [Phillip] Dorsett, his former teammate, and Kansas State's speedy Tyler Lockett," Rang wrote. "When able to latch on to receivers, however, Gunter showed off the strength and tenacity that is sure to intrigue teams looking for press corners. Gunter locked up Central Arkansas' Dezmin Lewis (6-foot-3 1/2, 215) and UNLV's Devante Davis (6-foot-3, 220), barely allowing either of them to even get off the line of scrimmage." Gunter fits with the NFL's increased desire to find big corners to combat jumbo-sized receivers and the Seahawks' paradigm of length and physicality.

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Clive Walford Among Monsters In Mobile

You know you're a pretty big deal at the Senior Bowl if two of the best college football talent evaluators in the business, NFL Network's Mike Mayock and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, are singing your praises on the same day.

Both analysts had great things to say about Miami Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford, who stole headlines on Day 2 of padded practice in Mobile.

"I think we’ve go the most explosive tight end in this year’s draft on the field," Mayock said of Walford. "They (Miami) used him everywhere, occasionally inline but more often in the slot (and) out wide on the move. I’m not sure what he’s going to run (at the NFL Scouting Combine), but I’m guessing somewhere in the 4.65 range, which is tremendous for his size. He’s what today’s NFL is all about as a TE; he’s a pass-first, block-later tight end."

The 6-foot-4, 254-pound former high school basketball player, Walford turned his on-field practice efforts Wednesday into must-see television for fans, NFL scouts and more. In 1-on-1 drills, he showcased a shake move during routes that left defenders helpless and future NFL defensive coordinators curious about how exactly they'll cover him.

The 2014 Mackey Award Finalist finished with 44 receptions for 676 yards (15.4 avg) and seven touchdowns in his final season on campus.

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Speedy, small Phillip Dorsett a promising receiver

MOBILE, Ala. - The NFC scout didn't hesitate.

On a field crowded with NFL prospects, it was easy to pinpoint his top wide receiver. Some may knock Miami's Phillip Dorsett for his diminutive frame, but his explosiveness and speed are too difficult to ignore."If you look past his size, he's a football player,'' the scout said of the 5-9, 183-pound Dorsett at the South team's practice Wednesday. "He's going to go somewhere and he's going to kill it.''

To no surprise, the Jets -- a team with plenty of needs, including receiver -- interviewed Dorsett here. But they're just one of several teams interested in the speedster. Dorsett couldn't remember all of the teams he met with this week, but he did mention the Eagles, Dolphins, Browns and Ravens. "It's a lot of teams,'' he said. "Almost all of them, honestly.''

According to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Dorsett likely will be the fastest player in the 2015 draft class. Dorsett said he ran a 4.21 40-yard dash during his last year at Miami. But he's also well aware his small stature will scare some teams off.

Dorsett said he's comfortable returning kickoffs and punts. "I'm just trying to show everybody what I can do. I'm not just a one-trick pony.''

Another small receiver who's gained a lot of attention here is Kansas State's Tyler Lockett. The fellow South member is only 5-9½ and 181 pounds. But although he may not possess the blazing speed of Dorsett, Lockett's quickness was on full display Wednesday when he smoked converted cornerback Nick Marshall of Auburn and Northwestern State's Imoan Claiborne for back-to-back downfield touchdowns.

Lockett knows his size is a disadvantage, but he's confident his versatility as a receiver and special-teamer will increase his stock. "As small as I am, I'm tough,'' he said. "I'll take a hit. I'll do whatever it takes.''

Lockett's father, Kevin, set several Kansas State receiving records -- many of which were broken by his brother Aaron or by Tyler -- and was a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 1997. Kevin Lockett ended his career with the Jets in 2003.

"My dad and uncle went to the league, so I already know what to expect,'' Tyler Lockett said. "My dad told me, even coming here: 'It's still football. You're doing exactly what you did in games. So just don't make it bigger than it really is.'''

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Devin Hester looks damn good with an assault rifle

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Atlanta Falcons Potential Draft Pick Profile: LB Denzel Perryman

When Sean Weatherspoon went down with an injury in 2014, the Atlanta Falcons' defensive trajectory followed it. Whether or not Weatherspoon comes back should not stop the Falcons from adding another linebacker to a corps that needs some additional talent.

One of the best linebackers in this year's draft is Denzel Perryman out of the University of Miami. He's played both weak-side linebacker and middle linebacker for the Hurricanes and projects well as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 or either a middle or weak-side linebacker in the 4-3.

Denzel Perryman
University of Miami

Senior Bowl Measurements (Obtained firsthand)
Height: 5'10-5/8" Weight: 242 pounds
Arm Length: 31-1/4" Hand Measurement: 9-3/4"

2014: 13 Games Played, 110 Tackles, 9.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 1 Interception, 3 Fumbles Forced, 5 Pass Deflections
2013: 13 Games Played, 108 Tackles, 5.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
2012: 9 Games Played, 64 Tackles, 6.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown
2011: 12 Games Played, 68 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 QB Hurry, 2 Fumbles Forced

Scouting Report

Denzel Perryman is an all-around talent at linebacker. He's competent as a blitzer, but he truly excels as a run defender. He can stack and shed with the best of them despite being one of the smaller linebackers in the draft this season. He's also got very good weight for the position despite being short.

He's an athletic talent and can play in coverage. He's not the ideal coverage linebacker because he's not going to man up with a tight end or a running back, but in a zone-heavy scheme, he would be an ideal defender to match up and then pass along a player.

Despite being a very well-rounded talent, Perryman's pass rushing doesn't inspire confidence as someone who should be attacking the quarterback on more than just 10-15 percent of passing downs. His strength in coverage more than makes up for that, though.

Another thing that hurts Perryman is that despite being a very quick player and solid athlete, he's lacking in raw straight line speed. He's also very undersized for a linebacker, as he isn't even 5'11". Height isn't a huge issue for some, but he has to have the speed and athleticism to make up for it.

How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Not only does Denzel Perryman keep his nose clean off the field, he's a captain on it. The Falcons love having players who not only know how to follow, but also those that know how to lead. He's someone who would fit in very well within a locker room that is about hard work and winning games.“You’re going to get a guy who’s going to give it 110% every play." - Denzel Perryman

The Falcons are trying to build that locker room for both now and in the future. With Perryman and Worrilow at the middle tier of the defense, Atlanta would have a pair of guys who are not only leaders by example but vocal leaders who will try to motivate the team if Weatherspoon isn't back.


Perryman is one of the best all-around linebackers in this year's draft. He's good at everything and great against the run. His only questions come from his lack of size and length. The best fit for him would be a role similar to what Weatherspoon played in 2011.

Perryman could be the linebacker that Atlanta needed during the 2014 season that would have been the ideal fit next to Worrilow. In a scheme where Perryman has big guys taking up most of the blocks in front of him, he could be an even bigger asset than he looks.

How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
The Falcons would likely have to take Perryman with either their second or third-round picks. He would be more than worth it, though, as he's a perfect scheme fit for potential new head coach Dan Quinn's defense. Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer noted he is expected to be named the new coach. Perryman can play either weak side or middle and would fit best as the weak-side linebacker.

He could be used best as a coverage linebacker in nickel packages when the Falcons move to those as well. Essentially, Perryman as a selection would be because the Falcons don't feel that Weatherspoon can stay healthy for an entire season and want to replace him long term.

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Finally, Recognition For Calais Campbell

Calais Campbell and Joe Staley lined up across from each other on Thursday afternoon, just like they’ve done twice a year since 2008.

This time, the game faces and helmets were removed, replaced by large smiles as they playfully engaged in a pass-rush simulation.

Staley, the longtime 49ers stalwart at left tackle, has been through these low-key Pro Bowl practices before, attending this week’s walk-throughs at Luke Air Force Base and Scottsdale Community College as a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Campbell is the newbie. While the Cardinals’ standout has been among the most productive defensive ends for the past several seasons, the Pro Bowl recognition never came. He isn’t the flashiest player, doesn’t play in a big media market, doesn’t put up huge sack totals, and for a long time it left him outside the elite Pro Bowl circle.

Finally, 2014 was his year. Campbell was sidelined for two games with a knee sprain and didn’t have his best statistical season, but maybe word has finally spread. The ‘underrated’ tag can go.

“I’ve been voting for him for the Pro Bowl for, like, four years,” Staley said. “I was so pumped for him. He’s a guy that deserves it. He’s been doing his thing for a long time. We played them in Week 17 after the Pro Bowl rosters were announced, and I told him after the game that I was really proud of him, happy for him that he made it. He deserves all the recognition he gets.”

Campbell’s Pro Bowl chances have always started at a disadvantage, because the fan vote has regularly placed more well-known defensive ends above him regardless of overall play. This year it wasn’t enough to leave him out, as the coaches and players’ tallies spoke loudly by rocketing him up the ballot.

The votes from Staley and the others made Campbell smile broadly.

“Me and Joe have been battling non-stop for so many years,” Campbell said. “When you have the respect of your peers, especially your opponents who are rivals, that says a lot.”

Some of the Pro Bowlers are good-naturedly grousing about the location of the all-star game, preferring the beaches of Hawaii over Arizona. Campbell, though, looks like he’s having the time of his life.

He’s struck up a friendship with Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt, the best defensive player in the NFL.

Campbell has his eyes on the new truck awarded to the Pro Bowl’s most valuable player, and is trying to take a preemptive strike by slowing down

Watt, a teammate in the game but a top competitor for his award. A McDonald’s meal was passed out to interested consumers at the Pro Bowl draft, and it’s where Campbell hoped to begin his sabotage.

“Here, eat a burger,” Watt said Campbell told him. “I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do that, man.’”

“He’s always eating healthy,” Campbell lamented. “Even when he has a cheat day, it’s healthy. I’m like, ‘OK, well you’re making me feel bad because I eat pretty bad sometimes.’”

Campbell said he’s enjoyed picking up tips from players like Watt and others he respects. He’s also quickly learning there is a mutual admiration. Watt asked Campbell about some of his techniques, and both Watt and Staley marveled at the fluidity of a 6-foot-8 player who begins each play with a hand in the dirt.

“A big dude that can move, and then he uses his hands for leverage,” Staley said. “Overall, he’s just a really good football player.”

While this is Campbell’s first Pro Bowl, he doesn’t look or sound like a fish out of water. He’s been a menace on the defensive side of the ball for a half-decade, and while it took time to break onto the Pro Bowl scene, the others on hand are well aware of his ability.

“He’s been a good player for a long time,” Watt said. “It’s good to see him out here (getting recognized).”

Campbell has a lingering sports hernia injury which will require surgery in a few weeks, but it’s not bad enough to make him miss the Pro Bowl festivities. He’s hoping this is the first appearance in a long line of them.

“I could get used to this,” Campbell said. “I could definitely see myself doing this again sometime.”

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Jimmy Graham wants NFL to change TD dunk rule

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said he hopes the league reverses the rule that prohibits dunking the football over the crossbar of the goal post.

The NFL banned the action last year and said those who dunked the ball would be penalized for the celebration. 

In a 2013 Thursday night game against the Atlanta Falcons, Graham bent the goalpost at the Georgia Dome after one of his scores, causing a brief delay as workers came in to straighten the bar.

Graham also dunked the ball twice in the preseason, drawing 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike contact for “using the ball as a prop” and receiving $30,000 worth of fines.

Graham scored twice during Sunday’s Pro Bowl and dunked after each score. He was not penalized for either celebration. 

“That was amazing. For me, it made the entire week,” Graham said, according to the Associated Press. “Hopefully, one day they’ll look back and change this rule so I can do it in a real game. And hopefully one day in the Super Bowl.”

Graham finished the game with three catches for 30 yards.

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Sam Shields: Dez Bryant made 'helluva catch'

The cornerback who defended Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on the controversial incomplete pass in the NFC Divisional Playoff game says he believes that Bryant made the catch.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields was in coverage on Bryant during the fourth-and-two play with four minutes remaining the game.

"It was a catch," Shields said to ESPN.com.  "But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that’s what the refs came up with. I never said he didn’t catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch.”

Bryant seemed to come down with the leaping 31-yard catch from Tony Romo near the sidelines and the official on the spot marked the ball down at the one-yard line.

Green Bay challenged the pass completion ruling and the play was reversed, with the officials ruling that Bryant did not maintain possession of the ball throughout the catch. The Cowboys gave the ball up on downs and Green Bay went on to win 26-21.

"I did look back and I seen him reaching and I guess that’s when he didn’t control the ball as he was doing that," Shields said.

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Jon Beason on `Deflate-Gate': It's Not Surprising

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49ers keeping an eye on Chudzinski?

One of the apparent top candidates for the 49ers’ position of offensive coordinator on Jim Tomsula’s first staff is a coach who is currently off-limits.

The Indianapolis Colts reportedly declined permission this week to the 49ers and St. Louis Rams to interview Rob Chudzinski for their vacant coordinator positions. Chudzinski’s contract reportedly expires next week, at which point he becomes a free agent. All indications are that the 49ers want an opportunity to speak with Chudzinski about running the team's offense.

“I’m not going to get into specifics, but it’s ultimately my job to make sure that good people stay in this building and don’t just walk right now,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said Friday in a press conference. “So we’ll address that, and do our best to keep good people here.”

Chudzinski, 46, is considered a good person – with a track record of NFL success, beginning with his first coordinator job in 2007 with the Cleveland Browns. Derek Anderson had his career year, throwing for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns. Receiver Braylon Edwards caught 80 passes and 16 touchdowns, as the Browns went 10-6.

Coincidentally, when Eric Mangini was hired as Browns coach in 2009, Chudzinski was out. Chudzinski joined Norv Turner with the San Diego Chargers as assistant head coach/tight ends before going with Ron Rivera to the Carolina Panthers.

Cam Newton was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. In his first two seasons with Chudzinski, Newton threw for 7,920 yards with a 7.9-yard average per pass attempt. He also rushed for 1,447 yards. In the next two seasons without Chudzinski, Newton threw for 6,506 yards (7.0 average) with 1,124 yards rushing.

“Everyone knows, coming from Auburn, it was a hand signal and we were gone,” Newton said on an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio in 2013. “When I came here (Carolina), it was a culture shock. There were things thrown at me that I never would’ve even imagined. The whole college system was training wheels and without having coach Chud around, I would not have had the season I had.”

During another interview, Newton praised Chudzinski’s ability to draw on his past coaching experiences to find what works best for the players with whom he works.
"The thing that makes coach Chudzinski so different is that he's like a hybrid,'' Newton said. "He takes so many different forms of offense and combines it with his own. He's been under Norv Turner and learned so much from him. But coach Chud understood what I could and what I was comfortable with. He also has to have a dominant running game. So for us to have a downfield passing attack, we have to combine it with those factors, and just makes him even more of a flexible coach.''

Chudzinski was fired after posting a 4-12 season as Browns head coach in 2013, leading to his position on Chuck Pagano’s staff with the Colts.

From 1994-2003, Chudzinski coached at his alma mater, the University of Miami . He was offensive coordinator from 2001 to ’03 while Frank Gore was on the team. Gore is on a long list of NFL Pro Bowl players from Miami that Chudzinski coached, including Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Bryant McKinnie.

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Greg Olsen has strong year on and off field

Greg Olsen has been thinking for weeks about the perfect way to finish off this season.

He would have loved to be on the field inside University of Phoenix Stadium next weekend, hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy and celebrating a victory in Super Bowl XLIX with his teammates on the Carolina Panthers.

That remains a dream for the Wayne native and former All-American at Wayne Hills High School, as it does for those like him fortunate enough to reach the NFL.
The reality is that the Panthers ran into reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle, which ended his quest for the Lombardi, yet Olsen still gets the chance to be inside the stadium, albeit a week earlier than expected.

The best year of his professional career – resulting in his first invitation to the Pro Bowl — also proved to be the most challenging of his personal life. It’s why Olsen wants nothing more than what he will get at some point between now and tonight.

A family portrait with his wife, Kara, and their three children, 4-year-old Tate and 2-year-old twins Talbot and T.J., one that captures the emotion of what has been quite a ride.

T.J. Olsen has undergone four open heart surgeries since being born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a severe congenital heart defect characterized by an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta.

Three of those procedures were anticipated.

A fourth blindsided the Olsens when, in September, T.J. needed a pacemaker installed.

T.J.’s recovery has been strong and his prognosis is positive, although some uncertainty remains. There has always been a chance that, down the road, T.J. may still need a heart transplant.

Olsen promises he has learned plenty about himself as a father and a husband, a teammate and a player, one that somehow turned in the most productive campaign of his eight-year NFL career.

"It hasn’t been easy," said Olsen, who will turn 30 in March. "His road is a little unclear going forward for the long, long haul. And we understand that. But T.J.’s doing great. We’re confident he’s going to do well and we’re confident. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves about perseverance and continuing to be mentally strong. We didn’t really think about it, it was just kind of our life. One day rolled into another and you were just living in the moment. We’ve had our tough days. We’ve had our good days. Through my career, I can say the same thing, being traded [from Chicago to Carolina], and now I can say I’ve kinda come out of the bright side of that tunnel both personally, as a team we’ve had success, and obviously T.J. doing well just makes everything else that much better."

Olsen spent the first month of the season shuttling between the hospital and the practice field, spending six nights a week with T.J. sleeping there while Kara stayed at home with their daughter, Talbot, and oldest son, Tate.

Olsen was somehow able to compartmentalize and he put up the most productive campaign of his career with 84 catches, 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. He has played in 127 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak by a tight end behind only Dallas’ Jason Witten, a fellow Pro Bowler.

"When you get the chance to take the step back and look at the big picture, these last couple years, the ups and downs, I think when we fly out to Arizona together and get there, it will finally hit me and this will put a nice bow on a couple of interesting years," Olsen said. "I don’t know if we did it perfect, but we did it the best that we could, and I’m planning on enjoying the entire experience. I think we all are as a family."

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Rob Chudzinski can interview starting Tuesday

We might have a little bit more clarity on the San Francisco 49ers search for an offensive coordinator. Not a lot, mind you, but at least a little bit. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Rob Chudzinski can start interviewing with other teams on Tuesday. This would seem to add confirmation to Alex Marvez's report last week that Chudzinski's contract expires today. It could be an end of day expiration.

The 49ers and St. Louis Rams are the two teams that have been consistently connected to Chudzinski. The 49ers have at one time or another been connected to Lane Kiffin and Mike Shanahan. Other than that, the only other name that has been mentioned by anybody is offensive assistant Geep Chryst. We have not heard any "reports" about it, but rather just basic discussion.

Bay Area Sports Guy put together his own predictions on the OC job, and he sees Chryst eventually getting the job:

Chryst is an in-house candidate who almost certainly would've taken the 49ers' offensive coordinator job if the team had offered it by now, so he would appear to be the fallback option in case Chud is either unavailable or says "no" to the 49ers. The team clearly likes Chryst, otherwise he would've been fired ...

Based on how respective searches for a head coach and defensive coordinator went - with the 49ers ultimately choosing guys they knew who weren't getting similar offers from other teams, Chryst makes the most sense. So that's my prediction, unless they're waiting to poach a Seahawks or Patriots assistant, or they end up surprising us with a hire from the college ranks.

I agree that Chryst is essentially a fallback option at this point. They could have locked him up for the job at virtually any time, so I don't see how he is the first choice at this point. Of course, if the 49ers decided Chryst was the guy for them, I am sure Jim Tomsula and the team will sell him as being the guy they wanted all along. But our finely tuned BS detectors will be hot on the scent!

Assuming Schefter's report is accurate, I suspect we'll start to hear something or other leak out later tomorrow. This would seem to indicate the process should wrap up by the end of the week, but we'll see what the next few days bring. Chud reportedly interviewed with the 49ers back in 2009, but turned down the job. Will we see something similar this year, or will they actually reel him in?

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Pat Burrell heads field for Phillies' 2015 Wall of Fame induction

FORMER PHILLIES leftfielder Pat Burrell, who memorably led the parade down Broad Street to celebrate the ballclub's 2008 World Series championship, heads list of candidates for the team's 2015 Wall of Fame induction.

Fan voting is underway at phillies.com, and will continue through 5 p.m. Feb. 6.

The other 11 candidates are pitcher Larry Christenson, manager Jim Fregosi, reliever Gene Garber, outfielder Tony Gonzalez, closer Jim Konstanty, first baseman Fred Luderus, reliever Ron Reed, catcher/coach Mike Ryan, third baseman Pinky Whitney, catcher/manager Jimmy Wilson and pitcher Rick Wise.

Fans may vote for up to three names. Complete details of the voting process are available on the team website.

The 2015 Wall of Fame inductee will be presented by 2014 honoree Charlie Manuel at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, July 31, before the 7:05 p.m. game against the Atlanta Braves. Other Phillies Wall of Fame honorees are expected to participate.

Tickets for this and all individual games wll go on sale on Thursday, Feb. 19.

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New York Yankees sign C Eddy Rodriguez to minor-league deals

The New York Yankees have signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez and outfielder Robert Hernandez to minor-league contracts, according to their transactions page at MLB.com.

Rodriguez, 29, split 2014 between the Rays and Red Sox organizations, hitting .152 with one home run and four RBI in 13 games at the Triple-A level. Originally a 2006 draftee of the Reds, Rodriguez is a career .235 hitter in nine minor league seasons and earned his only major-league experience back in August 2012, going 1-for-5 with a solo home run in a pair of games with the Padres.

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Ryan Braun's thumb feels 'significantly better'

It remained a case of so far, so good Sunday with Ryan Braun's right thumb.

The Brewers' right-fielder was plagued throughout the 2014 season by a nerve issue at the base of his thumb, robbing him of his power and other offensive skills. Afterward, he underwent a somewhat experimental cryotherapy procedure on the thumb that so far has produced encouraging results.

"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun said during a media session at Brewers On Deck at the Wisconsin Center.

"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.

"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."

Asked if the test is still to come when he starts hitting more regularly in spring training, Braun said, "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that every-day wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds.

"I don't feel anything at all; it feels great. So, I'm able to do everything I would typically be able to do. No restrictions. It doesn't prevent me from doing anything. I didn't have to alter any kind of workout routine or my hitting or anything I do in the offseason. So far, it feels really good.

"I feel as good as I ever do this time of year, so I feel great. It's always a progression to getting to the point where you feel comfortable with your swing. That normally happens at some point during spring training. But right now it feels as good as I could possibly hope for."

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Clive Walford wows NFL coaches

The NFL is a different kind of football from what many college players are accustomed to, so it should be of little surprise to see some positions that are more in vogue in the NFL than in college coming to the forefront at this week's Senior Bowl practices.

Like at tight end, where Miami's 6-foot-4, 254-pound Clive Walford made a strong impression Wednesday. On a day when he caught two touchdown passes, Walford turned heads for his combination of size, speed and agility that should translate nicely to the pro level.

You'll make an impression when you routinely beat linebackers in coverage up the seam. Watch here as he gets open down the field to catch a pass from Alabama's Blake Sims:

#SeniorBowl video: Alabama QB Blake Sims hits Miami TE Clive Walford down the seam.

A video posted by ChaseGoodbread (@chasegoodbread) on

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Phillip Dorsett Talks About Santana Moss' Influence on His Game

MOBILE, Ala. -- When it comes to football, there are different levels of speed. Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson come to mind as receivers who can vertically stretch the field because they’re often simply faster than the defensive backs who attempt to cover them. Here at the Senior Bowl, wideout Phillip Dorsett is striving to become one of the names on that short list.

He was introduced to the media at the stat of his Wednesday news conference as likely the fastest player in Mobile, and backed it up by saying that his fastest recorded 40 time basically broke the sound barrier.

“I have the U of M record -- 4.21 last summer,” Dorsett said.

That, folks, is super fast.

Of course, the Hurricanes have a long history of producing talented wide receivers. You’ve probably heard of Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, and Santana Moss -- all four are Miami products drafted since 2001.

And of that group, Dorsett said that he has developed a strong relationship with Moss.

“Every offseason he comes down and he works out at The U,” Dorsett said. “That’s kind of a guy I emulate my game off of. We talk all the time, we text all the time. He’s a really good guy as well. We have the same skill set, same body frame.”

Though he’s now 35, Moss has continued to play in the league. The 14-year veteran recorded 10 receptions for 116 yards, including three catches for 43 yards in the Rams’ 24-0 shutout victory on Dec. 7.

Dorsett said that Moss has made a real impact when it comes to running routes and noticing tendencies from defensive backs.

“Stay low, don’t give the DB any indication for when you’re breaking down,” Dorsett said of Moss’ advice. “Even things like playing in the slot, because he transitioned to the slot once he got a little older. Doing things like reading zone coverages, things corners do when they’re playing zone.”

“There’s a lot of different things and I’m just blessed to have him … in my corner,” Dorsett added.

That advice appears to have paid significant dividends, as Dorsett had a standout senior season. He caught 36 passes for 871 yards -- good for 24.2 yards per reception. That number was No. 1 in the ACC and No. 2 in the NCAA. He recorded a catch of at least 30 yards in nine of Florida’s 13 games in 2014.

Given those numbers, it’s clear Dorsett is a strong vertical threat. But he said he wants to be known as an all-around receiver, not just someone who can take the top off.

“I feel like I can play outside, inside,” Dorsett said. “Route-running [is one] of the things that they may have had a knock on me because I didn’t do much of it at UM, because I was a straight vertical route runner. So I’m just trying to show teams that I can do everything, that I can basically be an all-around receiver.”

While it can be difficult for receivers and quarterbacks to adjust to one another in a short time, Dorsett relayed that he had a bit of a leg up, given his relationship with one of the South team’s quarterbacks.

As for the next few weeks, Dorsett didn’t want to offer a prediction for just how fast he would run at the combine. But he did state a goal.

“Anything under 4.3,” he said, “That’ll be fine.”

Given how fast he’s proven to be in the past, he certainly has a good chance to do just that and plenty more at football's highest level.

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Miami Hurricanes are thriving at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- It was no secret in South Florida that the Miami Hurricanes had talented football players.

Despite their 6-7 record, those who follow the program knew there were many high-caliber athletes on the team. Yet, something wasn’t right with the team, whether it was inconsistent coaching or overall team chemistry.

This week at the Senior Bowl, the Hurricanes' talent is shining through. Hurricanes receiver Phillip Dorsett, tight end Clive Walford, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Ladarius Gunter all had their "wow" moments in practices this week and are generating a buzz at the Senior Bowl.

Perryman and Gunter made plays defensively for the South team on Tuesday, while Dorsett and Walford were the stars of Wednesday’s practice with big receptions. After a disappointing year at Miami, the four are doing all they can to improve their draft stock.

So how do you explain Miami’s losing record in 2014? The program continues to have solid recruiting classes but is far removed from its glory days when the Hurricanes competed for and won national championships. Things bottomed out last season as Miami finished under .500 for the first time since 2007.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way last year. I can say that,” Dorsett said. “A lot of things went the wrong way. We just got to get guys to really buy in. It’s not on the coaches, it’s on the players. Coaches coach and players got to go out there and play. That’s all I can really say about it.”

Perryman, a team captain at the University of Miami, had the same sentiments.

“For me, I feel like just a lot of miscommunication and not executing the game plan,” Perryman said. “That’s where I feel we fell short, both on offense and defense.”

Multiple teams, including the Dolphins, have interviewed Hurricanes players this week to get to know them better. The Dolphins have specifically interviewed Dorsett and Perryman at the Senior Bowl. That’s not a surprise considering their need for a speedy receiver and a take-charge linebacker.

Overall, the Hurricanes are fitting in well with some of the college talent from around the country -- both on and off the field.

“[It's] pretty cool,” Walford said of Senior Bowl week. “Ifeel like I’m at home. Idon’t feel like I’m in Alabama at all.”

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Mike Mayock: Clive Walford: “could be the best tight end in the country.”

With a lack of star power at the wide receiver position, Walford, who played his college ball at Miami, has brought plenty of attention to tight end, where he’s made numerous plays through the first two days of practice. One one particular play, Walford burst from his three-point stance and simply ran a loop around Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail to catch an over-the-shoulders pass for a touchdown. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread that Walford “could be the best tight end in the country.” That’s high praise, as that distinction has typically been bestowed upon Minnesota’s Maxx Williams. Walford, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds, played just one year of high school football because his first love was basketball. “I felt like basketball wasn’t doing it for me,” Walford said. “Once I started playing the game, I realized how easy it was … I started to love the game and I have a passion for it.”

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proCane Draft Pick Profile: Phillip Dorsett

The Atlanta Falcons need to start looking into long-term solutions at slot receiver. Phillip Dorsett of Miami (Fla.) has an immense amount of talent for the position and should be a good fit in the Falcons offense with Julio Jones and Roddy White early in his career.

He could push Devin Hester and Harry Douglas for playing time on offense and would also be an ideal fit as someone to learn from Douglas for a year before the former Louisville receiver's contract expires. Atlanta's got the ability to take a receiver in 2015 to eventually replace Douglas, and Dorsett could be the guy.

Phillip Dorsett
Wide Receiver
University of Miami

Combine/Pro-Day Measurements
Height: 5'9.625" Weight: 183 lbs
Arm Length: 31" Hand Measurement: 9.125"

2014: 13 Games Played, 36 Catches, 871 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 2 Carries, -6 Yards, 1 Punt Return, -6 Yards, Touchdowns, 8 Kick Returns, 116 Yards, 3 Tackles
2013: 8 Games Played, 13 Catches, 272 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 9 Punt Returns, 57 Yards, 2 Kick Returns, 28 Yards
2012: 12 Games Played, 58 Catches, 842 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 5 Carries, 8 Yards, 15 Punt Returns, 85 Yards, 11 Kick Returns, 251 Yards
2011: 12 Games Played, 14 Catches, 147 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 4 Kick Returns, 82 Yards, 2 Tackles

Scouting Report

Burner isn't a strong enough word to describe just how fast Dorsett is. He's one of those guys who can beat anyone deep and would provide matchup issues no matter where he lined up there. More than that, he has an uncanny ability to turn a short or intermediate crossing route into a ton of yardage.

He seems to be a willing blocker and also has shown some rushing ability off of end-arounds. The biggest thing he does well is use suddenness and raw straight-line speed to create separation. If he can figure out how to use this effectively on option routes in the pros, he could be a terror to opposing defenses.

Dorsett isn't a big guy by any means. His size compares most favorably to a DeSean Jackson or even a Steve Smith. So he's not going to be a guy who you want going over the middle and fighting traffic. He's not an overly physical player either.

He does have some issues with his hands and can drop some easy balls after he makes tough catches. There are also questions regarding his route running, but those seem fixable with the right combination of a mentor and a good receivers coach.

How Does He Fit the Comrade Filter?
Dorsett is a leader on and off the field. He's taken Central Arkansas receiver Dezmin Lewis under his wing at the Senior Bowl and been helping him get his splits and footwork right. The fact that he is selfless enough to help someone competing for the same potential roster spots says a lot about his character.

Someone who has leadership is never going to be turned away from the Falcons. Add in that he was never arrested or suspended, and that already puts him above and beyond the competition in this aspect. Dorsett doesn't just pass the Comrade Filter; the filter potentially bumps him a bit higher.

Dorsett is a true slot receiver who will be able to create big plays after the catch when lined up there. However, he does have the intelligence and suddenness to make big plays on the outside as well. As one of the fastest players on the field, he can beat anyone deep.

The question is how well he does the little things most wide receivers need to do on their routes to create separation in the NFL. Atlanta would be a good fit for him, as he could learn those little things from Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester.

How He Would Fit into the Falcons' Plans
With White, Douglas and Hester all over 30 years old entering the 2015 season, the Falcons need to bring in someone who could easily take over one of their spots in the long term. Since Douglas has just one year left on his contract, he should be the first to be replaced.

Dorsett would be an amazing fit as a slot receiver and wouldn't have to do much for the Falcons early in his career. He would ideally be a pick in the fourth or even fifth round but could go as high as the third round with an exceptional combine.

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Ladarius Gunter impresses former NFL defensive back

I spoke with seven-year NFL veteran and current Bleacher Report and Chicago Tribune analyst Matt Bowen about the defensive backs here in Mobile. One player he said really impressed him today was Miami’s Ladarius Gunter.


At just over 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Gunter fits the physical mold of what the Kansas City Chiefs look for in a cornerback.

He spent two years at Fort Scott Community College before heading down to Miami.

If he catches the eye of Bowen, a former NFL cornerback and one of the top analysts out there, he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on the rest of the week.

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Denzel Perryman Rapidly Increasing His Draft Stock

Denzel Perryman is a personal favorite of mine in this class, so it's refreshing to hear that he's making an impression on scouts at Senior Bowl workouts. The Miami star has to battle the stigma of not being a prototypical inside linebacker due to his 5'11", 244-pound frame. 

However, it's hard to overlook the simple fact that Perryman is an outstanding football player. You can look at all the measurements you want, but at some point the simple question has to be, can the guy play in the NFL?

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated offered some insights into what Perryman was doing during the practice sessions in Mobile, with a little help from scouts in attendance:

His coverage can be a little spotty -- the Jaguars' coaches, in charge of the South team this week, chatted him up after a couple of plays where he was late getting to his man. 

But there were no such concerns against the run. Midway through the South practice, the crowd in attendance let out a collective cheer, leading to this exchange between two scouts in front of me:

"What happened? I missed it."

"Perryman blew somebody up. Probably happens a lot."

An easy trope that even the most advanced scouts fall into is simply comparing two players who have the same body type, whether their actual talents match up or not. In Perryman's case, though, it's not out of line to say that he can be this year's version of Chris Borland. 

The 49ers got Borland in the third round last year, primarily because teams were concerned about how he would perform in the NFL at 5'11" and 247 pounds. He proceeded to record 107 total tackles despite not starting until after Patrick Willis got hurt in Week 6. 

Perryman has a nose for the football and more strength than you realize, like Borland, and he should benefit because of the success San Francisco's latest star linebacker had in 2014. He may not be a first-round pick, but a team should jump at the opportunity to grab him early in Day 2. 

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Phillip Dorsett recalls hosting Amari Cooper on recruiting trip

A Miami product from Fort Lauderdale, Phillip Dorsett wouldn't have many obvious connections to Alabama. He wasn't a Crimson Tide recruit and he never encountered Alabama on the field.

But he's crossed paths with two of the biggest names in the 2014 Tide offense at different points in his life. Dorsett's been training with former quarterback Blake Sims in Boca Raton while he hosted Amari Cooper on a recruiting visit.

This week he's sharing the Senior Bowl's South team roster with Sims. After the second practice Wednesday, he's impressed with what Sims is showing after his one year starting.

"We already had a chemistry before we got here," Dorsett said. "He's got a lot better and our chemistry got a lot better from our first two practices. I'm glad I get to play with him and get in the game with him."

Sims appeared to improve on his Tuesday practice performance when the South team worked out at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, site of the 3 p.m. Saturday Senior Bowl.

Though there is chatter of Sims potentially being more marketable as a running back, he is fully committed to the job of a passer. Dorsett, one of the fastest receivers in the draft who is getting strong Senior Bowl reviews, agrees with that.

"I think he's a quarterback," he said. "He takes command of the huddle and throws a really good ball ― a really nice ball. If he gets in the right system, I think he could play quarterback."

Dorsett was familiar with Sims' game from watching another former acquaintance play. He knew Cooper, a Miami native, from his time in South Florida.

Dorsett distinctly remembers being Cooper's host on an official visit the Coral Gables campus just minutes from his home.

"I knew he wasn't coming to Miami. I knew he was going to Alabama," Dorsett said with a chuckle. "We went to somebody's house and we were playing video games, NCAA, and he picked Alabama. So I was like, yeah, he's not coming."

But he followed Cooper's career closely and the now-former Alabama player is projected as the draft's top receiver. Dorsett remembers being blown away by Cooper in a camp coming off an injury in his junior year of high school.

"I knew he was going to be good," Dorsett said. "That's one of those special guys who comes around every 10 years. He's going to be good."

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Jimmy Graham says surgery 'still being debated'

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said he's still rehabbing his injured shoulder and has not made a final decision about whether he'll undergo surgery, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He showed no signs of discomfort at the first Pro Bowl practice, the paper said.

After the game, Graham said he'll return to Miami to train and relax.

"I'll be flying quite a bit, twirling in the air a little bit, and doing as much rehab as I can for the next four weeks," he told the paper. "This is a big week for me, just seeing where I'm at. I feel good, which is a positive, trying to stay away from getting surgery."

Surgery is "something we talked about and is something that's still being debated," Graham added. "This is kind of a trial to see where I'm at. I've had three weeks off and I've finally had some time to heal. It feels great, and I'm going to continue to do my rehab and get back to 100 percent."

Graham suffered the injury Week 5 and played through it all season.

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Clive Walford steals show

With precise routes, fluid movement and soft hands, the ex-Hurricanes tight end staked a claim to being the best at his position in the 2015 draft.

MOBILE, Ala. -- With a sterling practice Wednesday, Clive Walford might have done more to separate himself from the tight end class than he did in any game, or could do in any workout.

During one-on-one drills against linebackers and safeties at the South team's practice in advance of the Senior Bowl, the former University of Miami (Fla.) standout grabbed an array of passes down the seam, catching up to deep balls that appeared to be thrown too far and diving and turning for other passes that were low and in front or thrown behind him.

Walford grabbed two touchdown passes during his work Wednesday and presented nothing but problems for defenders of any position who tried to contain him. The 6-foot-4, 254-pound former high-school basketball player used his 81-1/8 inch wingspan effectively.

Four of the five other tight ends at the Senior Bowl this week are taller. Three are heavier. Two have longer arms and lengthier wingspans. One has bigger hands than Walford's 10.5-inch mitts.

But none of them are in Walford's class, although Delaware's Nick Boyle -- a 267-pound behemoth with measurables to match -- showed palpable improvement from Day 1 to Day 2, showing more assertiveness in his route-running and more consistency hauling in passes.

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Hurricane watch during Senior Bowl South practice

The Miami football program has been mediocre in recent years, but the Hurricanes continue to pump out NFL talent, including tight end Clive Walford, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, cornerback Ladarius Gunter and middle linebacker Denzel Perryman on the South squad at the Senior Bowl. And during Wednesday's practice, that talent shined bright.

A prospect who stole the show during South practice, Walford routinely drew praise from the Jaguars coaching staff for his routes, athleticism and ability to finish at the catch point. He has an easy release off the line of scrimmage with the route acceleration to threaten the seam and be a downfield target. Walford doesn't have an elite frame for the position, but he knows how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and create mismatches down the field. Walford entered the week in contention to be the No. 1 senior tight end drafted and he's only helped his chances of that happening through two practices in Mobile.

He has looked “as advertised” from his Miami game film.

The favorite to run the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine next month, Dorsett has “blur” speed to make defensive backs look silly. He has shown that sudden footwork at the line of scrimmage to beat press and the instant acceleration to win vertically downfield. Dorsett routinely won 1-on-1 drills against the South defensive backs, including his former teammate Gunter.

However, there is such a thing as playing too fast and Dorsett will do that at times, losing footing or getting wild in his breaks. Nonetheless, he has the game-changing speed to not only make an impact on offense, but also as a return man once he adds seasoning and polish to his game.

Gunter is one of the bigger corners in Mobile this week at 6-1 and 200 pounds with 32-inch arms, but he's shown the foot quickness that match much smaller players, moving very well for his size. He uses his length to contest any pass in his area code, blanketing receivers and impressing with his cover skills. Like most bigger cornerbacks, Gunter does need some refinement with his transitional technique, but overall, he has showed scouts more positives than negatives this week.
Unfortunately Perryman had to pull out of the Senior Bowl after a strained abdomen muscle on Wednesday. But his performance on Tuesday was enough to create a little buzz in the bleachers among scouts.

Miami finished with a 6-7 record in 2014, but after Anthony Chickillo, Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott played well at the East-West Shrine Game last week and these four Hurricanes in Mobile, its clear there was more talent in Coral Gables than the record gives them credit. And that doesn't include Miami's top two prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class – underclassmen running back Duke Johnson and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

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Phillip Dorsett Impresses At Senior Bowl

It was a strong week for slot receivers. University of Miami’s Phillip Dorsett and Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, who are 5-feet-10 and 5-9, respectively, both improved their stocks. Lockett displayed good quickness and the ability and toughness to catch in traffic. Dorsett did a good job using his blazing speed to take the top off the defense with big plays. Dorsett also showed good hands on shorter routes. Both players created a nice buzz for themselves.

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Heavy-hitting Denzel Perryman is a possible Bucs pick

MOBILE, Ala. — The two things Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman hears about from critics are his lack of height and his pass coverage skills.

He's not getting any taller, but the draft prospect — 5 feet, 10.5 inches, officially — is eager to show he can drop back in coverage this week at the Senior Bowl. If the Bucs go in a new direction at middle linebacker, Perryman could be there when they pick in the second round at No. 34 overall.

"One thing I get knocked on a lot is my pass coverage," said Perryman, a heavy hitter who started 37 games with the Hurricanes, topping 100 tackles in each of the last two years. "This week I'm going to make sure I can display my ability in that and just get better."

Perryman had only two interceptions at Miami, but said just because the defense didn't call for him to drop back and cover the middle of the field — as middle linebackers often do in Bucs coach Lovie Smith's defense — doesn't mean he can't do it.

As for his height, Perryman said it's a motivation. He saw Wisconsin's Chris Borland shine as a 5-11 rookie this fall, getting 107 tackles for the 49ers.

"I get knocked for my height, but I play big. That's one of my chips on my shoulder," he said. "I've been getting knocked for my height since I was in high school. Every day, I play with a chip on my shoulder."

Derrick Brooks was listed at 6-0 in his Hall of Fame career, and a certain Bucs linebacker that Perryman admires is listed at 6-1.

"Lavonte David, he's not all that tall," Perryman says with a respectful smile.

Perryman was held out of Wednesday's second practice of the week with an abdominal injury, but is expected back today. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, whose staff is coaching the South team, said Perryman has made a strong impression.

"He stands out, just in his ability to pick things up. You can sense his leadership, right when he steps on the field," said Bradley, who got his start in the NFL as the Bucs' linebackers coach from 2006-08. "He's got a presence about him."

Perryman wants to show he can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, capable of staying on the field when defenses shift to nickel defenses with only two linebackers on the field and a high chance of a pass play. He worked closely with the Jaguars and was scheduled for interviews with the Bucs and Dolphins, and he likes the thought of staying home in Florida — he's from Coral Gables.

"I would love it, just to stay in Florida, period, but I don't choose where I go," he said. "Wherever I go, I'm going to be the best player I can be."

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Jimmy Graham plans goal-post dunk after Pro Bowl TD

PHOENIX -- Jimmy Graham was barred from doing what he loves to do this season: dunk footballs over the goal post.

The New Orleans Saints' tight end was flagged twice after dunks in a preseason game and fined $30,000 by the NFL for violating what is now colloquially known as "The Jimmy Graham rule."

However, when asked by NFL Media on Thursday at Pro Bowl practice if he planned to bring back the dunk for Sunday's Pro Bowl, Graham was unequivocal.

"100 percent," he said with a sly smile. "Hopefully, they get me the ball. I'm for sure (going to dunk). Hopefully I won't get fined this time. Last time that fine was a little bit steep, especially for a preseason game."

The winning Pro Bowl team will earn $55,000 with the losing team taking home $28,000, per the collective bargaining agreement.

Graham said he doesn't know if the NFL will fine him if he dunks on Sunday, but that won't stop him from doing what he loves.

"I really don't care," he said. "I mean, it's the Pro Bowl, it's supposed to be fun. So hopefully they don't take my check away afterwards."

We agree 100 percent with Graham. It's the Pro Bowl. Let's have some fun.

In fact I'd go so far as to say everyone who scores should be required to attempt a dunk over the goal post.

Are you telling me you don't want to see how high Jamaal Charles can get after he burns the defense on a 74-yard touchdown run? I do. What if an O-lineman rumbles for a score? You don't want to see that dunk attempt?

Hopefully Team Irvin feeds Graham the ball near the end zone so we can all have a little more fun before the season ends.

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Mel Kiper Talks About proCane Draft Picks

According to PalmBeach Post writer Matt Porter, Mel Kiper had the following things to say about this year’s potential proCane draft picks. Follow Matt on twitter here and read his blog here.

Kiper said Flowers is “solidly in round one,” and has him slotted 19th overall to Cleveland.  “Flowers leaving early, people maybe didn’t expect that during the season,” Kiper said (note: outsiders, perhaps; within the program, Flowers was long seen as a three-year guy). “But he’s a kid who’s got enormous talent, decent feet, versatility to play left tackle or right tackle.”

Kiper’s top two running backs are Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, but he has Johnson right behind them. “Duke can run outside, he’s got that burst,” Kiper said. “He can catch the ball. A heck of a player. I think he’s a second-round talent you might be able to get in the fourth round.”

Dorsett will be a a second- or third-round pick because he “can fly,” Kiper said. “He’s a vertical stretch receiver.” He said he thinks Perryman will be a second-round pick.

Kiper on tight end Clive Walford: “I have him as the fourth highest-rated tight end. He can get down and stretch that deep middle area, which he showed in some games this year. Caught the ball well. He’s not going to have the great, great 40 time that some of these other guys will, but he plays faster and he’ll test [well].

“I think he’s a guy you get into … early- to mid-day three, he’ll make somebody look good at that point, I believe. I think he can be a No. 2 tight end. He’ll contribute. I think Walford’s got a chance to play in this league.”

Asked if cornerback Ladarius Gunter, center Shane McDermott and offensive guard Jon Feliciano could sneak into the late rounds, Kiper said: “Those are some of the names. McDermott right now I have as the seventh or eighth center. That’s a late-round, free-agency guy. Feliciano, same thing.”

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Rave Reviews From The Senior Bowl

The Reviews are coming in from the #SeniorBowl especially for Future #NFL #proCane TE Clive Walford, who was just named Player of the Day at the Senior Bowl practice... FOLLOW OUR TWITTER FEED FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE UPDATES HERE

"#Miami TE [Clive Walford] is definitely the best TE here in Mobile. He's making a lot of money today." - Mike Loyko

"Clive Walford is looking very good. Taking all challenges and beating them. Just made a nice catch on a double move." - Turron Davenport

"Clive Walford/TE/Miami looking sharp. Battling and coming away with a number of tough grabs." - Tony Pauline

"Clive Walford, my gosh. Destroying one on one coverage at Senior Bowl practice." - Armando Salguero

"Miami TE Clive Walford looks the part and has shown up nicely. Helping himself in so so class of TEs." - Eric Edholm

"Clive Walford is stealing lunch money against backers and safeties in 1 on 1s" - Pete Smith

"Clive Walford stealing the show. Can't be covered in 1-on1's. #SeniorBowl" - Bryan Perez

"Clive Walford #Miami TE running wild out here. Nobody been able to slow him thus far" - NFL Draft Geek

“TE Clive Walford, used primarily as a blocker yesterday, has been tearing it up in Senior Bowl practice today. Caught a TD.” - Andrew Abramson

"Between Clive Walford, Phillip Dorsett, Perryman & Anthony Chickillo, #Canes SRs really shining in all-star games the past 2 weeks." - Bruce Feldman

“Two University of Miami talents #Raiders scouts have nice grades on: TE Clive Walford, RB Duke Johnson...prospects Oakland are locking in on.” - Victor Cotto

“WR Phillip Dorsett told me he met with the #Dolphins this week at the #SeniorBowl.” - James Walker

“Dorsett said he met with #Eagles last night and is expecting to meet with Chip tonight. Was one of the stand out players today” - Eliot Shorr Parks

“Miami (FL)'s Phillip Dorsett & KSU Tyler Lockett -- two smaller WRs with electric short area quickness + foot speed. Shined in 1v1s.” - Dion Caputi

“Phillip Dorsett out of Miami is having a huge day. Elite speed. #Eagles” - Eliot Shorr Parks

“Miami TE Clive Walford putting on a show in Mobile right now.” - Patrick Claybon

“I want Phillip Dorsett on my team. So explosive off the line and he doesn't drop the ball.” - Matt Miller

“WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami) is electric in the 3-step passing game. No wasted movement in his route/break.” - Matt Bowen

“CB Ladarius Gunter (Miami) displayed the best technique during 1-on-1s. Played to hip of WRs and used leverage to drive on the ball.” - Matt Bowen

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Philip Dorsett was the "star" of Senior Bowl practice today. "So explosive," Jeremiah said.

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Are Dolphins, LB Denzel Perryman a match?

MOBILE, Ala. -- There was a four-play sequence Tuesday during Senior Bowl practice where University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman appeared to be the best player on the field.

On the first play, Perryman attacked downhill and made a good read-and-react play to stop the running back for a short gain. On the second play, he blew up the fullback to help the defense stop the run, and on the fourth play, Perryman made another nice stick that caused a fumble. The last play got defensive teammates and coaches fired up.

In that sequence, Perryman showed why many scouts believe he is an overlooked prospect. A projected second-round pick, Perryman was the best player on a struggling defense for years at Miami, and this is his chance to shine through and potentially creep into the first round.

Perryman has certainly has garnered some interest at the Senior Bowl. According to the linebacker, he’s already met with the linebacker-needy Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers. He’s also schedule to talk to the Philadelphia Eagles this week.

I asked Perryman about his thoughts on staying local and playing for the Dolphins.

“I can’t lie,” Perryman said. “I would love it, just to stay in Florida period. But I don’t choose where I go. So wherever I go, I’m just going to be the best player I can be.”

According to Perryman, the Dolphins asked him questions about his family and background during their meeting. It appears Miami is doing its homework to get to know the local product better. The Dolphins certainly can use linebacker help. They were ranked 24th against the run last season, and linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe could be on the chopping block due to high salaries.

Perryman is not a target for Miami with the No. 14 overall pick in the first round. But if Perryman is still on the board in the second round, he could be a match for the Dolphins.

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Falcons Show Strong Interest In WR Phillip Dorsett

The Atlanta Falcons are known for plucking players out of the NFL Draft based on strong showings in the Senior Bowl, and there's no particular reason to believe that will change in 2015. Given that, we regard this item from Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar with real interest.

The 2015 NFL Draft is again loaded at wide receiver and that was proven during Tuesday's practice. Arguably no one had a better day than Miami's Phillip Dorsett. He's easy fast, meaning that it doesn't take him much effort to get into top gear. Considering that he might be the fastest player in the draft, it was impressive watching Dorsett zip through routes. He caught almost everything thrown at him and quickly learned from the coaching of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan...

Dorsett spent a lot of time after practice interviewing with an Atlanta Falcons scout.

Dorsett reeled in 36 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns for Miami last season, so you can see that speed in action, even if he wasn't the team's top target.

Hearing the Falcons are focusing in on a rookie receiver with terrific wheels is music to all of our ears, I think. Kadar told me "it was seriously about 20 minutes, which is a little unusual," so you wouldn't be remiss in thinking that Dorsett is a potential target for Atlanta. It's worth remembering that the team's receiver depth chart currently features Julio Jones and three guys who will be 30 years or older heading into the 2015 season, so receiver is a genuine need. It helps that Dorsett is currently projected to go around the fourth round, though a dominant Senior Bowl week could obviously help his stock considerably.

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