Editor's note: Don't forget to cast your vote in our "Pulse of Dolphins Nation" poll about who you want drafted with the 25th overall pick.
It's widely expected that one of the things Miami's font office is spending time on leading up to the draft is the potential selection of a nose tackle. According to many, myself included, the nose tackle position is the most important position in a 3-4 defense. Simply put, you cannot run a 3-4 scheme without a reliable nose tackle. With Jason Ferguson turning 35 years old in November, it's becoming increasingly important for the Dolphins to find Jason's "heir apparent."
B.J. Raji, the draft's top defensive tackle, can certainly play the nose - but will be long gone by the time Miami picks. His college teammate, Ron Brace, is a likely second round prospect - and could be on Miami's radar. But I wanted to focus more on potential second day nose tackle prospects.
One guy who won't be on this list is Temple's Terrance Knighton - who I like a lot as a potential nose. The reason? I already included him on a "day two prospects" list a few weeks back - and you can view that by clicking here.
Terrance Taylor, Michigan
6'0 1/8", 306
You'd like your nose tackle to be a little taller, but Taylor is still a solid nose candidate because how stout he plays at the point of attack. A lot of scouts rave about how Terrance is able to keep his pad level low - which is very important in keeping his leverage. He has the ability to occupy multiple blockers and he has a terrific initial push. The biggest knock on him, though, is that he might not be in the best shape and has poor stamina. But with the patented "Bill Parcells offseason conditioning program," I wouldn't be too worried about Taylor's stamina. Give him a year in Miami under this regime and he'll be ready to play as a full-time starter in 2010.
Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman
6'3 7/8", 329
Here's a guy whose stock has risen very quickly to the point of possibly sneaking into round three. He was immensely productive in college, tallying 12 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. But that was playing against division II talent - not exactly good competition. But there's a lot to like about him. He's got terrific size. He benched 225 pounds 27 times, showing off his strength. He has very long arms (34"). And he's very agile for his size - something a nose tackle has to be, though people often times forget that. The biggest knock, according to scouts (other than his experience against subpar competition) is that he doesn't always play with great leverage and that he must improve his pad level. That's something you can coach up - and guys of his physical stature and talent simply don't come along too often.
You can read more on Sammie Lee Hill in GatorPhan's terrific scouting report.
Chris Baker, Hampton
Baker is a typical "boom or bust" player. He has all the physical talent in the world. He's strong, explodes off the snap, and will stand up his man at the line of scrimmage. His long arms (34") also allow him to to really get great leverage against his blocker. So why was he at Hampton? Baker transferred to Hampton for his 2008 season after being dismissed from the Penn State team for 2 felony charges that stemmed from 2 separate fights. He began his college career as a backup at Penn State in 2006 before starting 12 games in 2007 as a redshirt sophomore - when he totaled 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 8 tackles for loss. In his one season at Hampton, Baker had 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. It'll be interesting to see where he falls on draft day. How much of a concern is Baker's character? Some believe it's a major red flag while others feel he was just a kid at the wrong place at the wrong time. If the Dolphins' front office is leaning more towards the "wrong place, wrong time" theory, then you have to imagine Chris is on their radar.
Dorell Scott, Clemson
6'3 1/4", 312
If you're talking strictly about measurables, then Dorell Scott is the player in this draft who most closely resembles Jason Ferguson. They have similar builds - and truth be told - they have similar styles of play. He's very strong (benched 225 pounds 29 times) but is nimble and quick off the snap. He's also a smart player who will get in the passing lanes and put his arms up to make it tougher on the quarterback. He's willing to take on blocks and can hold up at the point of attack. The biggest knock on him, though, is reportedly his leverage. He doesn't keep his pads low on a regular basis, which allows blockers to get under him and shove him backwards. But, again, that's a technique issue that can be worked out. And one of the things I've read about Scott from various scouting reports is that he has the frame to be able to put on another 10 pounds or so without it really restricting his play.
Marlon Favorite, LSU
6'0 7/8", 314
Right off the bat, the obvious knock on Favorite is his lack of ideal size. But he knows how to play despite his ideal height - keeping his pads low andp laying with leverage against his blocker. He holds up well at the point of attack, even against double teams. And he's not afraid to mix it up with opposing linemen. He doesn't possess the kind of initial explosion off the line that you'd like, though. But he has a high motor to make up for that. He's also a locker room favorite and a guy whose teammates tend to look to as a leader - which is similar to the locker room traits that Jason Ferguson possesses.