The Dolphins Have Serious Decision to Make at Tight End
The Dolphins have real decisions to make about their tight end group. The easiest decision is the one they haven made yet, EXTEND CHALRES CLAY.
The rest of the unit behind Clay is what the Dolphins need to trim. They obviously have enough confidence in the deep but unproven group in so far as they didn’t go out and nab Jermichael Finley, or bring back Dustin Keller but that doesn’t mean the group is uber talented, or that there are clear levels of talent in the group behind Clay. And with eight tight ends on the roster fat needs to be trimmed so I will attempt to predict who will be left when Hickey puts down the scalpel.
An obvious cut is Evan Wilson. Wilson spent part of the 2014 offseason with the Dallas Cowboys, and signed with the Dolphins after the start of camp and his tenure appears to be a short one. Wilson possesses good size in his 6’6’’ 253 pound frame, but the University of Illinois product caught only 27 passes for 300 yards in his college career and he wont catch a break here.
Another somewhat obvious cut is Brett Brackett. Coach Philbin has said that Brackett is “kind of quarterback friendly” “he’s a big target” “he’s got good length” “he’s kind of natural running routes” “he seems to catch the ball very well so far” but he cant block. Brackett has been cut by the Dolphins before and he will be cut again (this isn’t even the first time he’s been cut this offseason).
All the cuts aren’t this obvious though, and even with Miami keeping three, or four tight ends on the 53-man roster to facilitate Bill Lasor’s offense where the two tight end package is a base formation, there are going to be some difficult cuts.
Dion Sims should be the safest next to Clay. Sims has been Clays replacement as he recovers from his right knee ailments as he has shown vast improvement from last year with more consistent blocking and improved receiving skills. I would be shocked if Sims doesn’t get a lot of playing time this year as the number 2 tight end.
It would be strange to see the Dolphins waste a pick, so the self anointed “blocking tight end” Arthur Lynch who the Dolphins picked in the 5th round of Georgia should be on the roster come September despite being invisible thus far. In Lynch’s defense he has supposedly limited by injury, hopefully he can show something by the end of camp to justify the roster spot.
Harold “Gator” Hoskins is the most interesting case. Gator had been sidelined by a hamstring injury for a good chunk of camp which could led to him being on the practice squad rather than the regular roster, but either way look for the Dolphins to keep this Gator in their back yard. Harold reminds many of Charles Clay and for good reason as they are both best described as football players rather than by any particular position group.
Hopkins can block, he can catch, he can play on the line and off, and could play fullback (if this offense required a fullback) and unfortunately with a shortened camp it will be hard for him to show that his versatility on Saturdays will translate to success on Sundays. If Hoskins plays well in the last few weeks don’t be surprised if Egnew is knocked out for a more versatile player.
The aforementioned Michael Egnew is a less interesting case, in fact he’s becoming an old story. Egnew has needed to develop as a blocker and a receiver if he wants to contribute, and well he still drops plenty of passes and his blocking is still far from stellar. Egnew missed some practice after suffering a concussion but if he doesn’t make the most of the next two weeks, or Gator shows that he’s just flat out better Egnew could have his days numbered.
Finally there is Kyle Miller. Miller has spent the past two seasons on Miami’s practice squad, has the size to block NFL defensive ends, but his inconsistent play could leave him off the roster come August 30th. The D3 Mount Union product needs to have a big week 3 and 4 to make the opening day 53 as he need to clearly beat out Egnew and must show more promise then Gator.
Ultimately I think that Clay, Sims, Lynch and Egnew all make the team and Gator ends up on the practice squad, but I wouldn’t be shocked (just elated) if Gator takes Egnew’s roster spot and gives the Dolphins even more versatile depth and better help on special teams. I do not expect the Dolphins to keep 5 tight ends, not in an up tempo offense where depth at wide receiver is even more important, roster spots are at a premium.