*** DOLPHINS NEWS ***
Apr 21, 1998: -- Nine Rookie FAs Signed --
In the aftermath of the draft this weekend, the Dolphins have
agreed to terms with nine undrafted college free agents: guard Ken
Celaj from Georgia Tech, defensive tackles Kelton Davis from Grand
Valley State, Eric Dotson from Mississippi State and Derrick Shepard
from Georgia Tech, tight end Chris Fontenot from McNeese State, South
Carolina linebacker Selvesta Miller, Cincinnati fullback Landon Smith
and wide receivers Derrick Steagall from Georgia Tech and Colorado
State's Geoff Turner.
Ken Celaj from Georgia Tech is listed at 6'4" and 317 pounds.
He played at both guard and tackle for Georgia Tech last year,
according to a variety of sources. He grew up initially in Manhattan
and learned to be tough when he was very young. He carried that
through to college, where he has started since 1995 at various
positions along the offensive line.
In 1995, in a game against Duke, Celaj broke his hand in the
middle of the game, but continued playing. He is a tough,
overachieving offensive lineman that JJ has brought in to try and help
the running game. He is connected to the Dolphins through Bill Lewis,
who as initially his coach at Georgia Tech, but is now the Dolphins'
defensive nickel backs coach.
Kelton Davis from Grand Valley State is a medium sized
defensive tackle at 6'1" and 287 pounds, but is supposed to be very
fast for a tackle, running a 4.88 in the 40 and very strong, capable
of bench pressing 500 pounds. He anchored the Grand Valley State
defensive line for the last 2 years and in 1996, he had 54 tackles and
9 sacks. I wasn't able to locate his numbers for 1997.
Eric Dotson from Mississippi State is a huge running-stuffing
defensive lineman who played at 345 pounds last year, but managed to
trim his weight down to 315 for the senior bowl. He is only 6'2", but
with his size and strength, is capable of becoming an immovable force
in the middle of the defensive line. However, there are questions
about his work ethic, dedication and quickness in rushing the passer.
Derrick Shepard is a 6'2", 295 pound defensive tackle from
Georgia Tech who's another fast player, clocked at 4.88 in private
workouts. He has improved a lot in the last year and gotten stronger,
but there are still questions about his technique in the line. If he
is to make it on the team, he will have to learn quickly.
Chris Fontenot from McNeese State stands 6'3" and weighs in at
236 pounds. He is a fine athlete and jumps exceptionally well, having
cleared 10 feet in the broad jump and 36 inches in the vertical leap.
He is an excellent athlete, but is not big or strong enough to be a
blocking tight end on the next level. He has some past experience at
fullback, also, so he may be asked to play in the backfield at
fullback or H-Back.
Selvesta Miller is listed as a linebacker in the Herald, but
played defensive end at South Carolina. However, at 6'2" and 250
pounds, he may be better suited to a pass-rushing linebacker in the
NFL. While at South Carolina, he was one of their better players, and
in 1997, made the Sports Illustrated "All Walk-On" college team at
right defensive end. This was a team made up strictly of walk-on
players who weren't recruited from high school. SI named Andre
Wadsworth the other defensive end on that team, so Miller had some
Landon Smith is a 5'11", 245 pound fullback from Cincinnati.
In 1997, Smith carried the ball 73 times for 285 yards, which works
out to a 3.9 ypc average. He also caught 12 passes for 172 yards and
lead the team in total touchdowns with 7 - 6 rushing and 1
receiving. The Dolphins don't have a lot of depth at fullback, so they
could use another fullback.
Derrick Steagall from Georgia Tech was a potential star in
college until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in
1996. He had major surgery and missed all of 1996. He came back in
1997 and reinjured his knee during the spring, requiring more
surgery. He did manage to play some in 1997, but looked tentative and
unsure of himself at first. However, he finally began to regain some
of his form at end of the season, catching 18 passes for 475 yards and
4 touchdowns in the last 4 games. At 6'0" and 205 pounds, he is a
good sized player, but it remains to be seen whether he will regain
Colorado State's Geoff Turner doesn't sound like a wide
receiver when you look at his size of 5'8" and 194 pounds. He looks
more like a small running back with his squat shape. He is not a
particularly gifted receiver, without great hands or great speed to
compensate for his size, but he is an excellent punt returner, having
returned 20 punts for 304 yards and 1 touchdown in 1997, despite
having strained his anterior cruciate ligament.
These guys are the longshots to make the team and most
probably won't last until September. However, every year a few sneak
through and this year should be no exception.
Of the guys listed above, there is a lot of potential, but not
a lot of production so far, except perhaps for Miller. However,
Miller is something of a 'tweener and he'll need to be able to either
put on some weight or learn to cover.
Anyway, here they are.
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firstname.lastname@example.org, DOLFAN in New Rochelle (almost)