MIAMI – The conversation was brief but effective.

When former Dolphins icon Jason Taylor discussed a potential return with his old team this month, Miami’s decision makers made their stance clear: Wait until after the NFL Draft, then we’ll talk.

“They know how I feel and what I’d like to do,” Taylor said after that conversation. “And I know how they feel and what they’d like to do, what they’re looking for.”

That’s all Taylor wanted to divulge about the talk, but the rest of the details about what Miami is “looking for” are actually quite simple. The Dolphins want to improve their pass rush with a young, promising outside linebacker.

If they do that, Taylor’s return would be unlikely.

Such an acquisition will become one of Miami’s potential goals during this weekend’s NFL Draft – an undertaking that might even cause the team to devote its 25th overall selection toward securing that type of player.

One scenario in particular could squash a reunion with Taylor before the end of Saturday. If USC linebacker Clay Matthews slides past teams such as Houston at No. 15 or New England at No. 23, he could be available when Miami picks.

If that becomes the case, Matthews would be appealing to the Dolphins for several reasons that extend even beyond his potential as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 system.

Matthews comes from a football pedigree that includes a Hall-of-Fame uncle (Bruce Matthews) who is one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history and a father (Clay Matthews Sr.) who played for 19 years in the NFL.

Such a bloodline isn’t essential, but it falls in line with Bill Parcells’ desire to have players who would consider football to be one of the three most important aspects of his life. (Religion and family are reasonable answers for No. 1 and No. 2, he says.)

Matthews meets two other important (although not essential) criteria: He loves the weight room and would be an immediate asset on special teams.

When he first arrived at USC as a walk-on, the linebacker weighed nearly 170 pounds. He is now a 6-3, 240-pound specimen, a transformation he credits to his relentless work ethic.

At USC, he also became known for his special teams contributions – something that has caught the attention of teams like Miami that could also use an upgrade within its coverage units.

“He moves like he’s a 245-pound safety,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call this week. “And he’ll also be one of your best special-teams players Day One.”

Given coach Tony Sparano’s affinity for players capable of playing multiple roles, Matthews’ desire to continue making contributions on special teams in the NFL should be viewed optimistically.

“That’s what I consider my bread and butter and that’s what got me to where I am today and to be able to play linebacker,” Matthews said. “It’s just something I really appreciate and understand the value of and would love to do for years to come.”

Miami isn’t overly enamored by the prospects available at No. 25, but there are other players who can be selected with that pick.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (despite his elite size and athleticism) comes with character concerns, and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (despite his elite hands) might not be appealing enough for Parcells to change his tendencies of drafting wide receivers after the first round.

So Miami might be willing to trade out of the 25th pick if it meant acquiring someone like Matthews. General manager Jeff Ireland spoke generally about the idea this month, but he made it clear that anything is possible.

“I’m always interested in going up,” Ireland said. “And I’m always interested in going back.”

Matthews isn’t the only outside linebacker prospect who would cause the Dolphins to pass on a potential reunion with Taylor – but he seems to be the most likely candidate.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.