The Senior Bowl kicks off at 4 PM EST today and there are quite a few prospects on both teams worth keeping an eye on. For this column, I’ve listed guys who I feel would be able to make an immediate impact and jump into a starting role on the team. While there are plenty of other late-round prospects that will be participating, I’ve kept this list to a minimum so you can focus in on just a few players instead of being overwhelmed by so many. This is especially true for the players who probably wouldn’t see the field this season in anything other than special teams. There are also other great players that are participating today but they've been left off the list because I feel the Dolphins don't have a need at that particular position.
#95 - Danny Shelton | DT | Washington
If you’ve been following the Senior Bowl coverage this week, you’ll know that the Dolphins are enamored with Shelton. It’s not a surprise when you find out he’s 6-1 and 327 pounds. Shelton is the most powerful defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl and has been the best run defender in practices all week. In addition to being one of the best in run defense, he can also rush the passer and take on double teams with relative ease on a consistent basis. His athleticism allows him to get all over the field and will likely see his stock rise over the next several months. He will likely be a top ten pick in the draft but if he’s there for the Dolphins at 14, he’ll be coming to Miami.
#71 - Carl Davis | DT | Iowa
Davis is 6-5 and 315 pounds. While he primarily played defensive end in college, he can easily transition into the defensive tackle position. Davis is projected to be drafted in the middle to late second round. A lot of focus has been put on Shelton but Davis shouldn’t be overlooked. While he doesn’t have the power that Aaron Donald had last year (Shelton doesn’t either), he routinely drove blockers into the backfield during drills throughout the entire week. One of the knocks on him is his inconsistency but he’s someone to keep an eye on not only today, but in the coming months as well.
#84 - Tony Lippett | WR/CB | Michigan State
The Dolphins desperately need size at both the wide receiver and cornerback position and Lippett can provide that as he is 6-3 and 190 pounds. While a little on the smaller side in terms of weight, he makes up for it in his height and athleticism. I put him as a WR/CB because some project him to switch to cornerback once he gets to the NFL. He played both cornerback and wide receiver this season at Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio believes he could be one of the best at that position. He’ll be a wide receiver today and has flashed tons of potential there. Just be sure to keep in mind that he could be switching to the other side of the ball. Lippett is projected to be drafted in the middle to late second round.
#82 - Justin Hardy | WR | East Carolina
Hardy doesn’t have the greatest size for a wide receiver as he’s 5-11 and 190 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the second round. Hardy is the FBS all-time leader in receptions but hasn’t had the best week in bowl practices. He’ll be a slot option for the Dolphins and someone who can replace Brandon Gibson. One week shouldn’t change his reputation but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
#22 - Quinten Rollins | CB | Miami (Ohio)
Rollins, 5-11 and 193 pounds, is projected to go in the late first/early second round. He doesn’t have the typical cornerback size that one looks for but then again, neither does Brent Grimes. However, Rollins needs a lot of work on his fundamentals and technique. After all, he only has one year of college experience under his belt. Rollins will be drafted early based on his potential alone but will likely need a year of refining before becoming a full-time starter, which means I already broke my rule of immediate impact players but Rollins could be one of those special talents that you just can’t let go by you.
#27 - Kurtis Drummond | FS | Michigan State
Drummond is 6-1, 205 pounds and is projected to go in the third round. He’s arguably the top senior prospect at safety in this draft and will work to raise his stock over the next few months. He’s consistent at stopping the run game and has excellent athleticism. The angles he takes are well-coordinated and he isn’t afraid to stick himself out there. One of the knocks on him is that he’s inconsistent when tackling, which has been an issue for the Dolphins in the past. Despite that, I expect the team to take a good look at him and you should as well.
#37 – David Cobb | RB | Minnesota
Cobb is 5-11 and 229 pounds and is a change of pace back the Dolphins could be looking at. He is very physical upon initial contact and is very consistent at pass-blocking. Despite his big size, he has the ability to cut in either direction without slowing down and has a knack for getting low and bursting through the open hole. Defenders have routinely had a tough time bringing him down. While he won’t break one long, he’s good enough to get the tough yards when they matter most.
Note: I know there is a lot of love out there for RB Ameer Abdullah. However, I view him as more of a Lamar Miller type and is someone that the Dolphins probably don’t need.
#90 - Gabe Wright | DT | Auburn
Wright is projected to be drafted in the third round. He is 6-2 and 285 pounds. During this past week, he was one of the most disruptive tackles on the South team. He is an ideal fit for a 4-3 defense as he can penetrate through the hole with burst and explosiveness. He reminds me of someone like Billy Turner – raw power and strength that could work his way into the starting lineup if he’s able to learn the playbook and stay clear of injuries during training camp.
#52 - Denzel Perryman | ILB | Miami (FL)
If you live in South Florida, you should know who Perryman is. He is 6-0 and 240 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the middle of the second round. One of the best things about him is that he projects to fit in any defensive scheme – whether 4-3 or 3-4. He is one of the best at run defense as he can quickly get off blocks and make the right tackles. He doesn’t have the best speed in the world but his instincts more than make up for it. In addition to being good at run defense, he is also good at covering receivers and has shown the consistent ability to do well in that phase of the game. He’ll be an every down player and could be a target for the Dolphins in the second round.
#77 - Arie Kouandjio | OG | Alabama
Kouandjio is 6-5 and 318 pounds and is an absolute monster in size. He is projected to be drafted in the middle of the second round and could be an immediate starter for the Dolphins on day one. His strength is in the running game and was one of the best guards in college football in that phase of the game. While his pass blocking still needs to improve, he has made great strides over the past several years.
#18 - Sammie Coates | WR | Auburn
Coates is 6-2, 201 pounds and is projected to go in the late first/early second round of the upcoming NFL Draft. One of the knocks on him is that he’s raw and needs some refining on his fundamentals, route-running and technique. Due to the fact that Auburn focused a lot on the run game, Coates’ stats were down this past season but that shouldn’t be a sole focus when evaluating him. He’s someone to keep an eye on in the game and in the coming months.
#22 - Tyler Lockett | WR | Kansas State
Lockett would be a slot receiver for the Dolphins as he is only 5-11 and 175 pounds. He would replace Brandon Gibson in that phase of the game and is projected to go in the late second/early third round. In addition, he would be a valuable asset on special teams in the return game – both on kickoffs and punt returns. Lockett is fast and can stretch the defense, which would be needed if the Dolphins decide to move on from Wallace and get a possession receiver on the outside.
#21 - Senquez Golson | CB | Ole Miss
Golson is 5-9, 178 pounds and is projected to be drafted in the late second/early third round. He has excellent instincts and always seems to be around the ball. One of his best traits is that he tends to bait the quarterback into throwing the ball his way, only to jump in front and come away with the interception. This is evidenced by the fact that he had nine interceptions this past season, second highest in the nation.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs