AFC East: Joe Laurinaitis
|Bob Donnan/US Presswire|
|Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis could be there for the Dolphins with the 25th pick.|
INDIANAPOLIS -- Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis probably might have been a top-five draft pick had he followed through with his inclination to turn pro after his junior year.
He returned to the Buckeyes, and his projection slid to the bottom third of the first round.
That's good news for the Miami Dolphins, who likely will be in the market for an inside linebacker. They're not interested in re-signing unrestricted free agent Channing Crowder.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's latest mockup has the Dolphins selecting Laurinaitis with the 25th pick.
Laurinaitis is rated either No. 1 or No. 2 at the position depending on the draft guru making the projection. Scouts Inc. rates him the 24th-best player in the draft.
Laurinaitis is scheduled to meet with the Dolphins on Saturday night at the NFL scouting combine here in Indianapolis.
Chances are, the subject of returning to Ohio State for his senior year will come up. He'll tell the Dolphins he doesn't regret his decision to honor the commitment he made to coach Jim Tressel.
"I was only recruited by two schools out of high school, Minnesota and Ohio State,"
Laurinaitis said Saturday afternoon at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium. "I think when a team offers you a scholarship and a free chance to go to school and get an education and play football at a place like that, I felt I owed them that fourth year."
Laurinaitis is the son of Joe Laurinaitis, widely known as professional wrestler Animal from the Legion of Doom.
"As far as physical stuff, I've been blessed with great genetics from my dad being a wrestler and a meathead to my mom being a fitness model," James Laurinaitis said." I have a unique set of genes, but I've been blessed.
"My dad taught me two very important lessons when I was young. The first was 'The day you ever become satisfied as a player, just walk away because if you think you're good enough you should be done. You've already accomplished everything.'
"The second thing he taught me was 'No matter how hard you're working, there's always somebody across the country working harder to try and take your spot.' "