It's time again to talk a little bit about what to watch for once training camp gets underway in less than 3 weeks.
Today, let's talk about the young guys. Specifically, let's discuss which undrafted rookies we should all probably keep a close eye on in camp and in preseason.
Davone Bess, WR, Hawaii
It's been no secret around these parts that I simply love Davone Bess and have high hopes for him. I've said since the moment we signed him that he would make this Dolphins team, and my opinion remains unchanged. If anything, I'm even more confident that he'll make the squad.
Many media OTA and mini-camp practice reports claim that Bess has looked good at times. And Tony Sparano even brought his name up when speaking about young players who have impressed. He really does remind of a guy who can develop into a great possession receiver. Sure, he's only 5'10, but he's got terrific hands and knows how to get open. That's one thing all Hawaii receivers know - how to get open and make plays.
Once camp kicks off, he's going to have to make plays, though, if he wants to stand out and make this team. The top 3 receivers are all but set in stone - Ginn, Wilford, Hagan. That means he'll be battling with the likes of David Kircus, Greg Camarillo, and a ton of other undrafted free agents. But of all those rookies, Bess has the most upside by far. Of course, there is a chance the Dolphins could look outside the organization for those other 2 receiver roster spots, meaning Bess can't just rely on his potential and his past performances in practice. He has a lot to prove, but I'm confident he'll show this staff that he's worthy of a roster spot in 2008 and beyond.
Anthony Toribio, DT, Carson-Newman
Toribio is a guy who has a chance to make the team - or at least get stashed away on the practice squad - simply because of a lack of depth at nose tackle. At 6'1, 300, he's not an ideal size for nose in a 3-4, but he reportedly has room to get bigger. And his work ethic has been praised multiple times by Tony Sparano and company.
He also produces when on the field. As a senior at Carson-Newman, Toribio finished the season with 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Sure, it's the South Atlantic Coast Conference, but production is production.
The bottom line here, though, is that I get a feeling that this coaching staff likes what they've seen out of this kid. And let's be honest. Beyond Jason Ferguson, depth is lacking at nose tackle. Randy Starks could potentially get some snaps there, but he seems like a better fit at DE. And Paul Soliai has been a disappointment early on in his pro career.
That's why you need to keep an eye on this local kid (went to Miami Central H.S.). He's a hard worker and he'll have every chance to earn a backup spot on this roster.
Will Billingsley, CB, North Carolina A&T
Billingsley is an interesting guy. He played 3 years for NC A&T before going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft. He wasn't even invited to an NFL camp in 2007.
But he didn't give up. He remained in great shape and got the chance to work out for the new regime here in Miami back in April. He reportedly ran very well (some say he ran a 4.4 40). This regime also decided to change his position. He was a safety in college but will be tried out as a cornerback here in Miami. And he was reportedly one of the standout players from the first rookie mini-camp following the NFL Draft.
But what we know he has is speed - something you can't teach. So now comes th technique aspect of playing corner in the NFL. I'm going to be very interested in monitoring his progress to see how this transition is going for him. The Dolphins lack depth at cornerback and could use a burner like Will. And even if he doesn't make the 53 man roster, I'd bet that he'll be a candidate for the practice squad, allowing him to practice with the team and continue to develop at a relatively new position.
So there are my 3 UDFAs to watch once camp kicks off. You'll notice that Jayson Foster, seemingly everyone's favorite undrafted rookie, is absent form my list. This isn't a knock against him. I love watching his highlight reels and he seems like he could be a playmaker in the NFL. But his height - or rather lack of height - worries me. When was the last time an NFL receiver that was just 5'7 actually made an impact or a team throughout the course of an entire season? It just doesn't happen. I'm rooting for the kid, but I don't have my hopes up.
Thoughts on my 3 players? Have some other undrafted free agents that you're excited to see? Tell us below...