Dolphins bring in veteran pass rusher, set up visits with two intriguing draft prospects

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

In their search for young, talented edge rushers to develop, the Dolphins are flying KansasAustin Booker into team headquarters next week for a predraft visit, according to a league source.

The visit likely will be Monday unless it’s pushed back a couple of days at the last minute.

Booker, who’s 6-4 and 240 pounds, appeared in only six games in two seasons for Minnesota before transferring to Kansas, where he blossomed last season.

He had 56 tackles (including 12 for loss) and eight sacks for the Jayhawks. He also had 27 quarterback hurries and batted away a pass and was named first-team All-Big 12.

Booker is projected as a second-day pick, but most mock drafts have him going sometime after Miami’s second-round pick at 55. The Dolphins don’t have a third- or fourth-round pick.

Here’s how’s Lance Zierlein assessed Booker:

“Truly unique prospect combining tremendous upside with an extremely limited sample size. A more conservative approach on Booker’s grade might be prudent, but it becomes a difficult route to take when observing his length, explosive athleticism and rush talent. Booker needs to get bigger and stronger, but that will come. The diversity of his rush approach is unheard of for a player with so little playing time.

“He can stride and dip at the top of the rush or beat tackles back inside with a Euro step or spin counter. He can stab and long-arm tackles into the pocket or stay separated from them at the point of attack. He chases quarterbacks and running backs with agility and burst but can be inconsistent dealing with a downhill running game. His reps against talented Texas left tackle Kelvin Banks Jr. could be the springboard to push this gifted edge defender with monster traits up the draft board toward an exciting NFL career.”

The Dolphins have only three established edge rushers under contract (Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb and Shaq Barrett), and Phillips and Chubb are recovering from major injuries that have left their availability in question for the start of the season.

The Dolphins also are bringing Louisville running back Isaac Guerendo to team headquarters, according to a source.

Guerendo had only 99 carries in four seasons at Wisconsin (and averaged 5.9 yards on those carries) before transferring to Louisville, where he ran for 810 yards on 132 attempts (6.0 per carry) and 11 touchdowns last season.

At Louisville, he also caught 22 passes for 234 yards.

The 6-0 foot, 221-pound back has averaged 23.0 yards on 31 career kickoff returns.

He was timed at 4.33 in the 40 yard dash.

Zierlein assessed him this way: “The transfer out of Wisconsin is an ascending running back prospect who was finally able to get enough carries to show what he’s capable of. Guerendo is built like a prototypical Badger runner, with a thick, well-proportioned frame. He was a much more decisive runner in 2023, but his cut-and-go burst is fairly average.

“He’s not sudden but runs with appropriate elusiveness, using subtle side-steps to continue the run’s downhill momentum. He can catch it out of the backfield and protect his quarterback, making him a suitable three-down backup. Guerendo’s size, skill set and demeanor are built for an NFL workload, and he could sneak into a bigger role in the future if he continues to progress.”

NFL teams are permitted to bring as many as 30 non-local prospects to team headquarters for predraft visits. Booker and Guerendo join Marshall running back Rasheen Ali, Southern Cal safety Calen Bullock, Iowa tight end Erick All, Northern Iowa defensive tackle Khristian Boyd and Canadian Football League cornerback Qwan’tez Stiggers as confirmed Dolphins ‘30’ visitors.

Seeking a veteran pass rusher, the Dolphins brought Carl Lawson to team headquarters for a visit on Wednesday.

The 265-pound defensive end/outside linebacker had seven sacks for the Jets in 2022, but played just 101 defensive snaps (and had five tackles) in six games for the Jets last season.

Lawson, 28, spent the first four years of his career with Cincinnati, where he had 20 sacks in 51 games and 14 starts. He spent the past two years with the Jets.

In addition to Bullock, the Dolphins also are showing interest in other second-round safeties.

We hear they’re intrigued by Utah’s Cole Bishop, whom ESPN Mel Kiper Jr. mocks 60th, five spots after Miami’s pick at No. 55.

Bishop had three sacks and two interceptions and was second-team All-Pac-12 last season.

Zierlein’s view: “Bishop was a highly productive tackler and valuable three-year starter for Utah. He stays busy around the line of scrimmage and can dart into gaps but can be a little slow playing off of big blockers. Bishop has man coverage potential on tight ends and is a bona fide striker when crashing down from his zone perch.

“He balances pursuit flow with a last-line-of-defense mentality as a run defender from high safety but will lose discipline in his deep safety duties at times. Bishop is an enforcer with NFL size and toughness for consideration in both down safety and split safety alignments.”

We hear that Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who attended Yale, is intrigued by Yale receiver Mason Tipton, who ran a 4.31 in the 40. He had 53 catches for 907 yards (a 15.1 average) and 10 touchdowns last season. The Dolphins are taking a hard look at Tipton.

In his latest mock draft, Kiper has Miami taking FSU edge player Jared Verse at 21, with this explanation:

“Yes, Miami has Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips as its top edge rushers, but both are coming off serious season-ending injuries. Phillips tore an Achilles in late November, while Chubb tore an ACL in early January.

“There’s no guarantee either is 100 percent healthy when training camp starts. That’s why the Dolphins could take Verse, who has impressive power in his 254-pound frame. His 50 QB pressures last season were the eighth most in the FBS. Miami has to replace a few starters after offseason subtractions, but Verse would be a no-brainer selection if he’s still on the board.”

Verse had nine sacks each of the past two seasons.