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Dolphins officials to dine with, audition Canes’ top prospects. The scenario now in play

The Dolphins will welcome the latest batch of Miami Hurricanes to team headquarters for on-field auditions on Friday and private dinners on Thursday.

And an interesting question involving the Dolphins and Hurricanes potentially looms on the third day of the NFL Draft on April 27:

Do the Dolphins draft any of the players considered to be UM’s second-through-fifth best draft prospects? There very likely will be the opportunity to do so. Miami doesn’t have third- or fourth-round picks but has one choice in the fifth round, two in the sixth and one in the seventh.

While safety Kamren Kinchens is projected to go in the third round (ESPN’s Matt Miller has him going 72nd overall to the Jets), there’s a growing possibility that nearly all or all of the Canes’ next tier of prospects will be available when Miami picks at 158 in the fifth round.

Some will be available when the Dolphins pick at 184 and 198 in the sixth round.

That group of prospects universally ranked behind Kinchens includes defensive tackle Leonard Taylor III, safety James Williams, center Matt Lee and guard Javion Cohen.

At one point, the notion of Taylor being available in the fifth round seemed ludicrous. It’s not any longer. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects him as a third-day pick, lamenting that “he didn’t emerge as the highly-rated player you thought he had the talent to do” at Miami.

In fact, Miller has the Eagles taking Taylor at 161 — three spots after Miami’s fifth-round pick.

The Dolphins are believed to be intrigued by Taylor’s skill set.

The Dolphins, like most of the league, apparently see Williams as an NFL linebacker, or potentially a pseudo linebacker/safety. He’s scheduled to have dinner with Dolphins linebackers coach Joe Barry this week.

Miller, in his mock draft, has Buffalo taking Williams at No. 163, five spots after Miami’s fifth-round pick.

Meanwhile, Miller has Lee going 212th overall, well after Miami’s two sixth-round picks (184 and 198). Lee graded out as one of the top centers in the country the past two seasons — in 2022 at UCF and 2023 at UM. He didn’t allow a sack either season, per Pro Football Focus, and he’s certainly worthy of consideration.

And Miller slots Cohen in the seventh round at 226. Miami picks 241st in the seventh round.

The Dolphins, during their history, have had more players from the University of Miami than from any other school.

Coupled with the tape evaluation that the Dolphins’ front office and scouts have already done, it’s possible that dinner meetings and workouts this week could give Dolphins officials a bit more clarity about whether any of these four Hurricanes (Taylor, Williams, Lee and Cohen) becomes a player of particular interest for them on Day 3.

OTHER AUDITIONS

More than two dozen non-UM players also will audition for the Dolphins on Friday as part of their annual local day. NFL teams are permitted to work out players who attended high school or college in their geographic areas, without them counting against the 30 permitted predraft visits. (By contrast, players on ‘30’ visits cannot work out for the team during their visits.)

Among the most recognizable non-UM names who will be there Friday: Southern Mississippi running back Frank Gore Jr., who’s the son of the former Dolphins and Canes standout running back.

Having the Gore name carried with it “a lot of expectation, a lot of doubt. A lot of judging. It was a lot,” Gore Jr. told CBS Sports earlier this year.. “It was a blessing for sure because I got to be with my dad and be able to see how hard he worked and how much he put into the game. But there was a lot of doubt from others and outsiders. But I’ll say I overcame it, and I’m beating the odds for sure.”

Gore averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 759 rushing attempts in four years at Southern Mississippi.

Among others auditioning for the Dolphins on Friday: FIU linebacker Donovan Manuel (68 tackles, five forced fumbles last season), FSU safety Akeem Dent (from Palm Beach Central), UF quarterback Michael Leon, Louisville and former UM safety Gilbert Frierson, Georgia receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) and Oregon defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus (Deerfield Beach High), among others.