Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dolphins go defense in final round, add NT Frank Kearse, CB Jimmy Wilson

After using all four of their picks during the draft's first six rounds on the offensive side of the ball, the Miami Dolphins went all defense in round seven by selecting nose tackle Frank Kearse and cornerback Jimmy Wilson.

Kearse, who attended Alabama A&M, was chosen with the 231st overall pick, while Montana alum Wilson was picked four spots later at No. 235.

The pair joins first-round center Mike Pouncey, second-round running back Daniel Thomas, fourth-round wide receiver Edmond Gates, and fullback Charles Clay in comprising the Dolphins' 2011 draft class.

The action will probably die down almost entirely, as the lockout will prevent the drafted rookies from having contact or negotiating with the team. The Dolphins will also not be allowed to pursue undrafted free agents until the new league year begins.


Frank Kearse

Originally from Savannah, Ga., Kearse action as a freshman at Alabama A&M in 2007, totaling nine tackles, half a sack, and a fumble recovery. He recorded 30 tackles (3.5 for a loss), one sack, two interceptions, and a pass deflection as a sophomore in 2008.

Kearse earned second-team All-SWAC honors following his junior season after posting 33 tackles (12 for a loss), 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He followed that up with a career-high 57 tackles (14 for a loss), one sack, and two forced fumbles on his way to another second-team all-conference selection.

Drawing interest from at least 15 NFL teams (the Dolphins interestingly not among them) at his Pro Day, putting up 22 bench reps and a 30-inch vertical while running a 5.2-second forty. He measured in at
6-foot-3 and 309 pounds.


Jimmy Wilson

A standout basketball and football star at Point Loma High School in San Diego, Wilson appeared in all 15 games as a true freshman, leading the team with nine pass deflections and recording 45 tackles. He started six of 12 games played as a sophomore in 2005, recording 44 tackles and earning an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection with 10 pass deflections.

Wilson graduated to a second-team all-conference selection as a junior in 2006, recording 51 tackles in 14 starts while intercepting three passes. It was after that season that his life derailed.

He spent two years in jail on a first-degree murder charge and later a voluntary manslaughter charge, all stemming from a 2007 altercation with the abusive spouse of his aunt that ended with the man accidentally shot dead with his own rifle. (You can read about the situation in more detail here.)

After a hung jury with an 11-1 vote to acquit resulted in a mistrial, Wilson was eventually acquitted on both charges by a new jury in July 2009. He petitioned the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility, which he was granted in 2010.

Returning to the Grizzlies last season, Wilson was converted from cornerback to safety and earned an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection with 50 tackles, two sacks, an interception, and 11 passes defensed.

Despite his checkered past, Wilson drew interest nine teams at his Pro Day and has impressed scouts with his physicality. He stands 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds and runs the forty between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds.


Analysis

I'll have more overall thoughts on the Dolphins' 2011 draft in the coming days, but for now I'm going to focus solely on Kearse and Wilson, and how they potentially fit in with the Dolphins this season.

A naturally strong lineman with all the size you look for, Kearse can certainly push the pile and clog up the middle against the run. The level of competition he faced at Alabama A&M is an issue, as is the fact that he's fairly raw in terms of technique.

Kearse is intriguing for a small school nose tackle, but he certainly has a long way to go. As a seventh-rounder, he's not guaranteed a roster spot and could just as easily be the next Louis Ellis, i.e. a camp body nose tackle that is never heard from again after final cuts.

As for Wilson, it certainly speaks volumes how much NFL teams like the guy if he can still draw such interest after the murder charges against him and jail time in his past. Even if you believe he was innocent (and it certainly seems like he may have been), guys have been slapped with "character concern" labels for a fraction of what Wilson has in his history.

If you assume that Wilson has his life in order, he's a solid football player from a program that has already given the Dolphins running back Lex Hilliard and Dan Carpenter. He's strong, physical, and has pretty good ball skills.

His advanced age for a rookie (he'll be 25 in July) isn't ideal, and being a solid cornerback at the I-FCS level certainly doesn't mean he's got what it takes to make it in the NFL. Realistically, he'll compete for a gig on special teams and possibly a spot on the practice squad as a rookie.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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