2018 NFL Draft: Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli meets with Miami Dolphins

Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli could be a great pickup for the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

The only one who doesn’t seem to notice that Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli is missing a finger on his left hand is Troy Fumagalli.

He had his index finger amputated as an infant because he was born with Amniotic Banding Syndrome, the same disorder that cost UCF’s Shaquem Griffin his entire left hand, and has never known anything different. It’s not something Fumagalli thinks about until someone asks him how he overcame that disadvantage to become one of the most surehanded pass catchers in college football.

“I’m so used to it that it’s second nature to me,” he said recently.

Fumagalli is a compelling draft prospect for the Dolphins, who sat down with him at last month’s Senior Bowl. He’s 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, clamps down on the ball with a bear-like grip and starred for the Badgers at a major position of need for Miami.

Over his final two collegiate seasons, he caught 93 passes for 1,127 yards and six touchdowns while proving to be a reliable blocker as well. He had five games of 80-plus yards, including a seven-catch 84-yard performance against Ohio State as a junior and a 100-yard opener versus Utah State last year.

All of that makes him someone worth considering for the Dolphins, possibly in the third round of this year’s draft.

“You could basically throw a football anywhere,” his father Doug told ESPN last season. “He catches it with one hand. And he picks up the ball in flight very well. On some of those things, you can’t work at it. You either have it or not, and he just had it.”

That probably sounds amazing to Ryan Tannehill.

Tight end has been a void for Miami for most of its recent history, which is somewhat expected given the team has never drafted one in the first round and hasn’t chosen one in the second since 1979.

The Dolphins’ most recent tight end picks were Thomas Duarte (2016, seventh round), Arthur Lynch (2014, fifth), Dion Sims (2013, fourth) and Michael Egnew (2012, third). Egnew and Lynch are out of the league, Duarte has appeared in one game and Sims has never caught more than 26 passes in a season.

The all-time records for Dolphins tight ends are staggeringly low: Randy McMichael’s 2004 season holds the title for yards (791) and catches (73), and no one’s caught more touchdown passes at the position than Anthony Fasano’s seven in ’08. Over the past decade, the NFL has seen 61 seasons of 800-plus yards by a tight end, but none from Miami.

Fumagalli’s favorite players to study are Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, all of whom make South Florida jealous.

The Dolphins have been unsuccessful trying to solve this problem in free agency. Jordan Cameron underproduced his first season, then his career was ended by a concussion the next year. Miami coach Adam Gase thought he could rejuvenate Julius Thomas this season, but that never came together.

With few great options expected to be available in free agency, the Dolphins must consider spending one of their higher-round picks on a tight end. Other than the o-line, this is the most immediate need for their offense. They need a pass-catching tight end amid a promising group of skill players in Jarvis Landry (if he re-signs), Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Kenyan Drake.

While there don’t appear to be any tight ends in this draft class worth taking at No. 11, there’s a bevy of them expected to go in the second through fourth rounds. The Dolphins could hope for South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst at No. 42 overall or look for someone like Fumagalli in the middle rounds.

“I want to prove that I’m a complete tight end. I can do everything and do it well,” he said. “Regardless of what’s asked of me, I execute at a high level.”

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