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The Finsiders Blog
Kiper Breaks Down Fast-Rising Draft Prospects
By on April 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm

tavon-austin-again2There is just enough time between the end of the college football season and the NFL Draft to form an opinion on a prospect, change it, then change it again.

Typically, through no fault of their own, players can fall down or shoot up draft boards without much of a forum to back up all of the work they put on tape.

One of those risers — in the mind of Mel Kiper Jr., at least — is Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker, whom the ESPN analyst sees as a great fit for a Dolphins team that likely will address offensive line in the next few weeks.

“It would be a great bet at right tackle if Jonathan Martin can get it done at left tackle,” Kiper said. “It will help your running game as the best running blocking right tackler to come out in years. You could look defensive end. I don’t think it will be necessarily a player there that will be attractive enough. You could trade down off of 12.”

Needs may end up affecting the specific spot that Tavon Austin is drafted, but a percreption evolution  is the reason he is flying up draft boards. In the past, this four-month evaluation period would have been more of a curse than a blessing. The West Virginia receiver likely would have been deemed too slight, too frail for the physical professional game. Instead, now, he seems like the perfect fit for the modern, up-tempo spread offense.

“Today’s NFL is built for Tavon Austin at 5’8″ and a half. Ten or 15 years ago, he would have been a third round pick,” Kiper said. “Now he’s a top-16 pick because today’s NFL allows him to be successful.

“…I think it’s his production. When everybody watched him play, they saw an electrifying, dynamic, versatile performer who changed the scoreboard.”

For weeks there seemed to be a consensus that Texas A&M Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan Eric Fisher were a cut above the rest of the offensive line prospects and two viable options for the Chiefs. The closer the Draft gets, however, the more love Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson seems to be getting, perhaps even putting him in the top tackle conversation.

“You lean a little bit towards Joeckel because he’s been there with two systems. More experience. Fisher is Mid American Conference competition. Then you think about Lane Johnson, with all the changes of position, a little late developing, stronger in the lower body, improve his technique just a bit. I think certainly his Senior Bowl week really helped him. He can play left tackle or right tackle. Lane Johnson is solidly one of the top 11 players in the draft. I think he goes in the top seven right now.”

Johnson is another type of player that typically enjoys a nice pre-draft boost: the workout warrior. His athleticism was on display at February’s Scouting Combine, where he posted a better vertical jump than current Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green. Maybe a mid-first rounder initially, the fleet-footed tackle is seemingly in a dead heat with the two top offensive linemen.

Joeckel and Fisher, always near the top of the draft according to the gurus, were always going to be out of the Dolphins’ reach. But now if they want a shot a Johnson, Kiper says, there going to have to move up to get their guy.

“Lane Johnson will not be there at 12. I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening. If Miami wants him, they have to move up to get him. Remember, Lane Johnson can play left tackle or right tackle, but you have to move up to get him.”

RELATED: Kiper Projects Dolphins Pick At No. 12

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Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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