|Published:||Apr 29, 2012 2:23 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 30, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - Miami Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller kept falling in the NFL draft until the Miami Dolphins traded up to take him.
Despite pressing needs at receiver and safety, the Dolphins selected Miller in the fourth round. He had been projected as a likely second-round pick and perhaps even a late first-rounder.
"I was upset at first," he said after waiting more than 36 hours to hear his name announced. "But now I'm happy with where I'm at."
Fearful that another team might be about to take Miller, the Dolphins moved up six spots and grabbed him shortly after the draft resumed Saturday.
"I expected him to go a little bit earlier, but that's the draft," general manager Jeff Ireland said. "For whatever reason he was still there, and I thought he was too good a value to pass up."
The Dolphins still don't have an elite pass catcher for incumbent quarterback Matt Moore or rookie Ryan Tannehill, their first-round pick Thursday. They did add a potential possession receiver by selecting Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham in the sixth round.
And Miller could provide a multiple threat as an understudy to Reggie Bush. He rushed for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns with the Hurricanes last year, and he's an elite kickoff returner and a capable pass catcher.
"We look at Lamar Miller as a back that has the opportunity to create explosive plays," coach Joe Philbin said. "He's a guy who can break tackles, and he has very good speed. It was hard to ignore the guy."
After deciding to forgo his final two years of college eligibility, Miller will play in the same stadium where he starred with the Hurricanes.
"To be in my hometown, to get a chance to play for a Super Bowl, that's always a great thing," he said. "I'm just ready to put the team on the map."
Miller became the second Hurricanes player taken by the Dolphins. In the third round they selected defensive end Olivier Vernon, the first Hurricane drafted by the Dolphins since 2004.
"We got a chance to visit with all the University of Miami guys," Ireland said. "We want to try to create a relationship with the Hurricanes and coach Al Golden. I like the way he coaches his players. I believe in his program. We had a good long talk about the players we drafted, and I think we're just scratching the surface of the two. They're two tremendous prospects. Their ceilings are endless."
The Dolphins drafted Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in the second round and Missouri tight end Michael Egnew in the third round. In the fifth round they took Oregon outside linebacker Josh Kaddu, and their seventh-round picks were Texas defensive lineman Kheeston Randall and Nevada receiver Rishard Matthews.
Six of the Dolphins' nine choices were offensive players. They didn't take a safety, where a void remains after the release of veteran Yeremiah Bell last month, and Ireland said the draft was thin at the position.
The draft was the second for Ireland since the departure of Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells. Ireland said a high success rate on his picks this year will be critical.
"We're trying to win championships, and I believe this is the best way to build a team," Ireland said. "It's extremely important for this franchise that we hit on a lot of these players."
Cunningham was Michigan State's leading career receiver with 218 catches. The Dolphins hope he will help fill the void created by the departure of Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Chicago Bears in March.
"I'll line up inside, outside, wherever you want," Cunningham said. "However they utilize me - special teams, whatever they need to do - I'll come out and I'll produce for them."
Tannehill, the first quarterback taken in the first round by the Dolphins since Dan Marino in 1983, was formally introduced at a morning news conference. Holding his new No. 17 jersey, he posed for photos with owner Stephen Ross.
"Hope one day we can retire this number," Ross said.
"I couldn't have come to a better place," Tannehill said. "I'm honored to have been selected by such a great organization."
Tannehill's coach at Texas A&M was Mike Sherman, the Dolphins' new offensive coordinator. Tannehill immediately began studying the playbook and liked the looks of it.
"It was pretty familiar," he said. "I'm really excited to get back into it. There have been some changes, but the foundation of it is all the same. I'm excited to get into the new stuff that they've added in the past few months that we didn't have at A&M, and to get on the field and start running the plays."
Tannehill and the rest of the rookies will report for an introductory camp next weekend, and the objective will be modest, Philbin said.
"Hopefully when we get plays going to the right, we'll get everybody to go to the right and not run into one another," he said. "It's more of an orientation that a real camp."