The question that boggled the minds of countless NFL scouts and analysts last week: “How did the University of Miami go 6-7?”
That confusion was a theme in Mobile, Alabama, where former Hurricanes Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman, Ladarius Gunter and Clive Walford all got ready for the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Although most Miami fans had already expected the Canes to do well leading up to the game, all four of these players stood out exceptionally, impressing both fans and professional scouts.
Phillip Dorsett was the most expected stand out from Miami. Arguably the fastest player in his draft class, Dorsett has the speed of an Olympian. However, the largest concern surrounding him has always been the ability to make cuts in stride without slowing down.
Those doubts were quickly put to rest last week as Dorsett outplayed almost every cornerback he went up against in practice.
ESPN Analyst Todd McShay named Dorsett the top player of the Senior Bowl. “He was the fastest player in Mobile this week — by a lot — and he might be the fastest player in the 2015 class,” McShay said. “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.”
With the attention Dorsett has received lately, there is no doubt that the St. Thomas Aquinas grad will drop jaws at both the NFL Combine and UM’s Pro Day.
Defensive captain last season, linebacker Denzel Perryman drew some crowd cheers last week as well. Although his coverage at some times in his college career was spotty, Perryman has always been the most explosive player on the field, and he proved it at practice.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke reported that cheers from the crowd on one play led to this interaction between two NFL scouts:
“What happened? I missed it.”
“Perryman blew somebody up. Probably happens a lot.”
Yes, it does it happen a lot. If Perryman continues to shine, he may very well join former teammate offensive lineman Ereck Flowers in the first round of the NFL Draft. Miami fans should not be surprised if Perryman ends up in his hometown, however.
The Miami Dolphins interviewed Perryman during Senior Bowl practice, and one of the largest holes the Dolphins have heading into next season is at the linebacker spot. It could be a terrific fit.
Unfortunately for both Dorsett and Perryman, they were unable to stand out in the actual game due to injuries.
However, The U was still sported highly on Saturday when Clive “OG Slick” Walford and Ladarius Gunter took the field.
Walford statistically had the best season out of any tight end in the country this year. He was key in making a star out of ACC Rookie of the Year Brad Kaaya, and was consistently one of the most un-guardable players in college football. NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock believes so as well.
“I think we have the most explosive tight end in this year’s draft on the field in Clive Walford,” Mayock said.
Walford created the biggest mismatches throughout the entire week. Players at the line were too slow to touch him, and cornerbacks couldn’t handle his 6’4” 260 lb. frame.
All of these reasons are why Walford continues to improve his draft stock and probability of being the first tight end of his class to be drafted.
All three of the players mentioned above excelled during their senior years, making plays left and right and gauging the attention of NFL coaches. One player may have finally made his case relevant just last week: Ladarius Gunter.
Coming into Mobile last week, Gunter was projected to be drafted somewhere near the middle of the fourth round.
The main reason for this faulty prediction was due to Gunter’s lack of speed. His exceptional size and athleticism had never been able to overcome his one fault in the eyes of many.
But they did on Saturday.
Out of all the corners that played at the Senior Bowl, no one had a better statistical performance that Gunter. The 6’2” 200 pounder used every inch of his body to record four tackles (highest amongst cornerbacks), including one that salvaged a touchdown.
Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah opened up for a screen near the goal line. Gunter went full speed at Abdullah to stop him right at the line of scrimmage and run out the clock to go into halftime. Instincts like those aren’t from a fourth round prospect.
So why did Miami end up 6-7? That answer is yet to be determined. One answer that remains clear is that the Canes may very well have five players drafted in the first three rounds.