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3 Dolphins rookiews earning praise


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Posted July 16, 2009 @ 10:04 a.m.

By Matt Sohn


After years of futile drafts under different regimes, the Dolphins' braintrust of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano scored great success with its first rookie class of 2008. Two draft picks, OT Jake Long and DE Kendall Langford, earned starting jobs, and DE Phillip Merling and OG Donald Thomas are slated for starting honors heading into their second training camp.


The early returns from the 2009 class are just as encouraging, even though there’s less of an opportunity to make a dent in the Dolphins’ lineup this season seeing as how the club is coming off an AFC East-winning campaign as opposed to a 1-15 debacle.


Three rookies stood out in particular: CBs Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, and WR Patrick Turner. Smith, the latter of the club’s two second-round picks, flashed his playmaking ability throughout the spring. A long-limbed converted wide receiver, the 6-foot-3 Smith’s fluidity was a bit of a pleasant surprise. With hands that enabled him to notch nine interceptions his last two college seasons, the threat of the takeaway and what he can create off the turnover were expected. Now, after his quick absorption of the scheme and showing natural movement skills, word is he has a slight edge on winning the starting job opposite Will Allen.


Davis, the first-round pick whose brother is 49ers TE Vernon Davis, has been solid, if not as sensational as Smith. But perhaps more encouraging than anything he has done on the field is how he appears to have fallen in line with Miami's regimented program. Notoriously hot-headed with a knack for drawing his coaches’ ire at Illinois, Davis has actively heeded advice thus far from both coaches and veterans. Offseason acquisition Eric Green is anything but a good bet to even claim the nickel job after many initially penciled him in as a starter.


Turner, meanwhile, looks like he’s finally ready to prove why he was considered the nation’s premier wide receiver coming out of high school in 2005. Following four decent seasons at USC, the 6-foot-5 Turner has been a terror for his defensive counterparts in spring. With ’08 free-agent flop Ernest Wilford flipping to H-back, Turner has the inside track at being the big-bodied red-zone target the Dolphins have lacked in recent seasons.


From PFW

Edited by Randall
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