2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins pick Mike Gesicki in second round at No. 42

Penn State’s Mike Gesicki has been on Miami’s radar since the start of draft preparations. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — It almost happened to the Dolphins again.

They opened the second round of the draft tonight eying Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, who would fill a glaring need on their roster, and he was headed their way until Tennessee traded up to the spot ahead of them.

After seeing Arizona trade up to pick one spot ahead of his team in the first round Thursday, general manager Chris Grier held his breath while the Titans were on the clock.

“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “We had a couple other players that we might’ve considered if he was gone, but it worked out for us.”

Miami landed Gesicki with the No. 42 overall pick, making him the franchise’s highest-selected tight end since Andre Tillman in 1974. He will get a chance to compete for the starting job immediately when Organized Team Activities begin in May.

For an in-depth look at Gesicki as a prospect and what he discussed with the Dolphins leading up to the draft, click here.

Gesicki is 6-foot-6, 247 pounds and will be charged with providing a red-zone threat the Dolphins haven’t had the last few seasons.

As happy as the Dolphins were that he wasn’t scooped up by the Titans, Gesicki was even more thrilled. He’d been hoping for this destination.

“It’s one of the most exciting moments of my life,” he said shortly after being picked. “I’m so excited to be coming down to Miami and get to work and know that I’m exactly where I belong.

“The people in that organization, Coach (Shane) Day the tight ends coach, Coach (Adam) Gase, everybody involved, they made it seem like home when I was down a couple weeks ago.”

Gesicki put up 105 receptions, 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns in 27 games over his junior and senior seasons at Penn State.

If the Dolphins get production along those lines from this season, it’ll boost an offense that’s desperate for it. Tight end has been a somewhat ignored position for Miami over the past few years, with late-round draft picks and scrap-heap free agents not able to do the job.

The team went into Gase’s first year with Jordan Cameron at tight end and last season with Julius Thomas. Prior to the draft, the Dolphins had A.J. Derby in line as the starter.

Thomas had 388 yards and three touchdowns on 41 catches, and he ranked 22nd or 23rd in the league in all three categories.

The top tight end in the draft, South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, went late in the first round Thursday, and the Dolphins had their pick of everyone else at the position. Gesicki was the second tight end chosen, going seven picks ahead of South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert.

So why Gesicki?

“His skillset and he was productive for Penn State the last two years, and as we got to know the kid, the football intelligence and just being around him multiple times, he felt like our type of guy,” Grier said.

While his numbers were good the last two years, it wasn’t all smooth for Gesicki.

He battled a drops issue early in his career at Penn State, and blocking has been a problem as well, but that didn’t deter Miami.

“The one thing everyone talks about is him not being a great blocker,” Grier said. “Well, there’s a lot of really good tight ends that are pass catchers that aren’t great blockers. It’s about giving effort. This kid wants to be a better blocker. The one thing we really loved was his skillset offensively. He’s big, he’s long, he’s fast.”

The Dolphins took safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with the No. 10 pick in the first round, which helped their secondary but didn’t address their most glaring needs. Beyond looking for a young quarterback to play behind Ryan Tannehill, Miami came into the draft with starting lineup holes at tight end and linebacker.

The draft continues tonight with the third round, when the Dolphins will select 73rd overall. They also have five picks Saturday: Nos. 123 and 131 in the fourth round, No. 209 in the sixth and Nos. 227 and 229 in the seventh.

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