We're now less than four weeks away from the NFL Draft. And as excitement builds for draft weekend, there is a lot going on right now in terms of preparation. Here are some of the headlines that made news this weekend:
HENNE HITS ROAD WITH PARCELLS AND SPARANO
We learned this weekend that the Dolphins are taking a very unique approach to the way they are conducting private workouts with some of the draft's receiver prospects. Not only are both Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano making the trip, but so to is Chad Henne. Writes the Miami Herald:
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne embarked on a multicity tour of the country with the team's top three decision makers, during which time he has been throwing to potential draft picks.
The team asked Henne if he wanted to join their crew for the trip, and he agreed. During the trip, the Dolphins will work out more than six receiving prospects in several cities.
Among the receivers the Dolphins worked out were Hakeem Nicks and Percy Harvin, according to the Palm Beach Post:
Prior to the University of North Carolina spring game, Parcells and Sparano conducted a private workout Saturday morning with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and some of his former Tar Heels teammates (wide receiver Brooks Foster, tight end Richard Quinn and safety Trimane Goddard), according to a person familiar with the workout.
Parcells and Sparano spent the most time with Nicks, considered one of the top wide receivers in next month’s draft and a candidate for the No. 25 pick held by the Dolphins.
The Dolphins’ brain trust and Henne later traveled to Gainesville to work out receivers Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy and Cornelius Ingram.
A "source" also tells the Post that Nicks was impressive, catching "everything in sight."
Before I go any further, though, I think I need to say this: We know that Chad Henne is this regime's "quarterback of the future." So no - we didn't learn anything new along the QB front. And no - this doesn't mean Chad Pennington isn't in this regime's plans for 2009. Don't read more into this than we should.
With that said, I think we need to forget about the QB debate that some people want to start and focus on the unique idea that this front office had. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I really can't recall another team taking their "franchise QB" city to city to work out potential draft picks. We've certainly come a long way from when a certain head coach's bright idea was to have Brady Quinn throw outside in the cold to help him judge if he'd be able to play well in cold weather games in the NFL.
You have to also appreciate the decision by Parcells to include Henne is this from a strategic standpoint. Sure it probably helps to see these receivers catching balls from a QB you trust and from the one who will likely be throwing that receiver passes in real games possibly as soon as later this season. But this move is also a clear show of confidence in Henne. Parcells and Sparano essentially empowered their second year signal caller by inviting him on this trip. What this should do for Henne is give him even more confidence in his ability and in his future in Miami as well as motivate Henne to work as hard as he can to get more prepared for when his day finally does come.
LONDON & BESS TURN CRITICISM INTO A POSITIVE
I've always believed that you have to have an extra little "something" to be an elite athlete and play at the highest level possible. Dolphin wide receivers Brandon London and Davone Bess seem to possess that "extra something."
Brandon London recently spoke with the Sun-Sentinel. And when Mel Kiper Jr's comments came up about how Miami's receivers are a weakness to the team, London said that teammate Erik Walden told him about Kiper's comments. London's response?
"I said, 'OK, I'm going to find it, I'm going to download it, and in that first receiving meeting that we have, I'm going to play it.' And that's going to set the tone. We don't have T.O., we don't have Larry Fitzgerald. But we've got a bunch of hungry, hungry receivers, and guys that Coach Parcells and Coach Sparano see want to work, we want to get better. So we're going to keep working, and just watch. Just watch. That's what it's about."
It's that kind of "us against the world" logic that seemed to work in Miami's favor last season. And despite the team's 2008 success, this lack of respect is clearly going to be a motivating factor again in 2009. London said it very well. This group of receivers is hungry. And that's why I'm not so set on the Dolphins drafting a receiver on day one. I think this team has more pressing needs than receiver - and a lot of that has to do with how much I expect Ted Ginn, Davone Bess, and Brandon London to improve in 2009.
Davone Bess heard London's rant and knows there are those out there who doubt Miami's group of receivers. And he told the Sun-Sentinel:
"Most players will get mad or frustrated, but I love it, because it's always keeping me humble. Knowing that there's always someone out there to knock you down. In this league, you can never be satisfied. There is always room for improvement."
-I don't want to get too into this whole Jason Taylor saga again. The Miami Herald reports that Taylor and Bill Parcells do have an "amicable relationship." Then on Sunday, Taylor told ESPN.com's Tim Graham that he wouldn't rule out a return to Miami. He also acknowledged that he's heard the comments Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made about him and that it flatters him to hear it.
-CB Vontae Davis seems to like the idea of potentially being drafted by the Dolphins. "I like the coaching staff and who could ask for a better place to play than Miami," said Davis on Saturday.
-OLB Larry English improved his 40 yard dash time at his pro day workout this past weekend. He ran a 4.88 at the combine but improved that to 4.74 at his pro day. English also told the media that he scored a 34 on the Wonderlic test.