Apr 29, 2016 11:06 PM
Tunsil tries to tamp down furor regarding his draft freefall
The Associated Press
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Laremy Tunsil kept repeating the same answer to questions about his freefall in the NFL draft, the social media hacking that cost him millions and the investigation he stirred at Ole Miss.
"I'm just here to talk about the Miami Dolphins," Tunsil said several times Friday.
At his introductory news conference with the Dolphins, the big tackle tried to tamp down the furor surrounding his slide to the 13th pick in the draft.
Touted at one time as a potential No. 1 overall choice, the Mississippi tackle fell into Miami's lap after a video was posted on his Twitter account shortly before the draft showing him smoking from a gas mask connected to a bong.
Another post on his Instagram showed an alleged text exchange with an Ole Miss football staff member that included Tunsil's request for money. The university said it will investigate.
On Thursday, Tunsil said both accounts had been hacked a cyberattack likely costing him more than $10 million. He declined to elaborate Friday.
"I don't know nothing about that," he said.
Tunsil hinted only once at any bitterness regarding what had transpired, while saying he felt blessed to join the Dolphins.
"They gave me a chance," he said. "I'm going to show them why I'm the best player I should be in the draft."
Miami went into the second day of selections Friday needing a cornerback and running back, and landed both. In the second round the Dolphins took cornerback Xavien Howard of Baylor, and in the third they drafted running back Kenyan Drake of Alabama.
They also swung a deal to move into the late third round and select receiver Leonte Carroo, who had 29 career touchdown catches at Rutgers. The Dolphins traded to Minnesota their 2016 sixth-round pick, 2017 third-rounder and 2017 fourth-rounder.
Drake was hampered by injuries in college and played behind Derrick Henry, who won the Heisman Trophy last season. He said he's healthy now and optimistic he can start for the Dolphins as a rookie.
"They gave me their word saying I can come in and let my play speak for itself," Drake said. "You've got to come in and make plays, and that's what I plan on doing."
General manager Chris Grier praised Drake's versatility, including his ability to return and cover kicks.
"He's got a unique skill set," Grier said. "This guy is a good receiver and can do a lot of stuff."
Howard also likes his chances of starting as a rookie. The Dolphins moved up four spots and gave the Baltimore Ravens a fourth-round choice to select him.
"This is a prototype player," Grier said. "This guy checks all the boxes. When the opportunity arrived for us to make a play on him, we jumped at it."
Before round two began, the tale of Tunsil took yet another strange twist. His news conference started more than an hour late because he suffered an allergic reaction while at the Dolphins' complex.
Was it Tunsilitis? He said it had happened before and probably resulted from something he ate.
"The doctor took care of me, so I'm good," he said.
The risky decision to pick a player 12 other teams passed on was endorsed by Grier, coach Adam Gase and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum.
"A no-brainer," Gase said.
"A great moment for our organization," Tannenbaum said.
"Some people are saying this guy was the best player in the draft," Grier said.
Yeah, but. The bizarre social media posts reinforced Tunsil's reputation for off-field issues.
He sat out the 2015 season's first seven games after the NCAA ruled that he received improper benefits, including the use of three loaner cars over a six-month period. His stepfather reportedly filed a lawsuit against him Tuesday related to a confrontation in June, when the men were both charged with domestic violence against each other charges later dismissed.
Tackle wasn't a priority for the Dolphins, who have two established starters at the position. Tunsil could play guard, Gase said.
"We'll figure out a way to get him on the field, whether it is as a guard or tackle," Gase said.
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