DAVIE — The Dolphins have needed an upgrade at tight end for ages, but when they took Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe in the fourth round — the second tight end they selected in the draft — an obvious question was why take a guy who had only 15 receptions his senior season?
One clue can’t be sound in his stats with the Irish or his draft bio, but in a tirade Dolphins coach Adam Gase went on after getting blown out by the Baltimore Ravens on national TV last season. That’s when Gase said too many players weren’t committed enough to put in time studying their playbooks after they left the facility.
Smythe doesn’t appear to fit that profile in the least.
“In college I was the guy who kind of used the mental part of the game as a strength,” Smythe said Monday. “I knew the playbook extremely well. I could go out and play extremely fast because I knew it so well.”
He doesn’t know the Dolphins’ playbook extremely well. Which isn’t a criticism at all. Find an NFL rookie who claims to know his playbook inside and out in June and you’ve found a dreamer. Smythe knows what he doesn’t know, and he’s doing all he can to correct that.
“It’s all about going out there, taking a lot of time outside of the building to get familiar with the playbook and kind of just roll with the punches,” he said.
Before the newcomers even arrive in Davie for rookie camp and OTAs, the Dolphins send them the playbook — or so it appears.
“When you first get it, it only has a couple of installs,” Smythe said. “So you’re, ‘OK, I’ll be able to handle this.’ And then you come in the first day and they throw you a stack that’s just as big as the stuff you’ve gone over for two weeks.
“Like I said, it’s just about rolling with the punches.”
Smythe said it’s not usual for coaches to throw something new at them early in the morning, expect players to practice it later that morning, then play catch-up to figure out what’s really going on at night.
“You try to play fast and then you go home at night and try to focus on it then,” Smythe said.
Smythe said the concepts are similar to what the Irish ran, but there is one major difference.
“Volume,” he said. “Big time.” The Dolphins’ playbook, he estimated, is “maybe like 100 percent bigger.”
The scouting book on Smythe was that he was the anti-Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins’ second-round pick. Smythe’s strength is blocking, not receiving. Gesicki caught 57 passes and scored nine TDs last year.
But Smythe thinks he may have caught everything thrown his way thus far in Davie.
“I feel like with the offense we ran at Notre Dame and kind of our philosophy of what we wanted to do, obviously I wasn’t targeted as much, didn’t have as many catches,” Smythe said. “I think that’s something that I tried to show throughout the pre-draft process, through the Senior Bowl and things like that. It’s something I could do as well. I think they have confidence and I do as well.”
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