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.