Dolphins most realistic hope for drafting TE might be in later rounds
Top two prospects likely to go in first round but third-best could be there in second round
NDIANAPOLIS – The consensus opinion says there are three tight ends in this draft that have the size, hands and skills necessary to excel in today's pass-happy NFL — Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert, Stanford's Zach Ertz and San Diego State's Gavin Escobar.
For years the Dolphins have badly needed a tight end that can run the seam route, be a red zone threat and create mismatches.
But if Miami wants Eifert (6-foot-5, 250), Ertz (6-5, 249) or Escobar (6-6, 254) it might have to over-draft and Eifert or Ertz at No. 12 in the first round, trade down to later in the first round, or hope they can get Escobar in the second round with either the No. 42 or 54 picks.
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Right now, only Escobar seems plausible and that might be over-drafting. Most likely, if the Dolphins draft a tight end it would be in the third round or later, which could mean he needs lots of polish to fit Miami's need.
"I like the tight ends," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, "but there is a dropoff after three, so you could see a little bit of a run. A team wants a tight end, they want to make sure they're in that top three."
There are no physical requirements for a tight end nowadays. He just needs pass-catching skills.
"It goes back to what's being played in college, and that's a position
that's not primarily playing a traditional, on the line of scrimmage,
hand in the dirt, 'Y' tight end, as we would call it," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said. "You've got a lot of detached receiver types that fit a TE body type."
The Dolphins need a tight end who can be a difference maker in the fashion of New England's Rob Gronkowski, San Francisco's Vernon Davis or New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, guys who create matchup nightmares for a defense.
The Dolphins have drafted a tight end/H-back the last two years. Last year they drafted Michael Egnew in the third round and that was a disaster. He made his season debut in the finale.
Two years ago they drafted Charles Clay in the sixth round and although he's flashed, he hasn't been the answer.
So what happens in this year's draft with the Dolphins regarding tight end? It's tough to say.
The projected fourth-best tight end might be Florida's Jordan Reed (6-2, 236), whose skill set matches what the Dolphins need. Michigan State's Dion Sims (6-5, 262) is probably in a close battle with Reed but Sims is more of a hand-in-the-dirt, blocking tight end, which is what Miami already has in starter Anthony Fasano.
Reed and Sims are likely third- or fourth-round talents. Cincinnati's Travis Kelce (6-5, 255), Rice's Vance McDonald (6-4, 267), and Colorado's Nick Kasa (6-6, 269) are later-round possibilities because of their pass-catching skill sets.
Miami could be in a quandary as far as drafting a tight end. None are worth the No. 12 spot, and the top three will likely be gone by the time Miami drafts in the second round.
It could turn out free agency is the best way for the Dolphins to address their need for a field-stretching tight end. Or, hope that Clay or Egnew grows into the role.
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