Dolphins rookies Mike Gesicki, Jerome Baker resume college battles

Dolphins rookie Mike Gesicki matched up one-on-one with new teammate Jerome Baker in college. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—The Dolphins’ second- and third-round draft picks faced each other in college, and they’re about to spend the next month and beyond going head to head again.

Jerome Baker is the type of linebacker who can cover tight ends, and that’s exactly how Ohio State used him against Penn State: to handle Mike Gesicki. He covered Gesicki each of the last two years, and that’s almost certainly going to be an ongoing assignment for him when Organized Team Activities begin.

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

“He’s a great player and he’s definitely gonna compete,” Baker said. “Individually, he’s big and he can go get the ball. But I look at it from a team aspect. He got me one year and I got him the last one.”

Penn State spoiled the Buckeyes’ bid for an undefeated season by beating them in 2016, and Ohio State squeaked by with a 39-38 victory last year.

Gesicki totaled 10 catches for 113 yards in the two games, while Baker had 11 tackles including 1.5 for negative yardage.

Gesicki was a major matchup problem in college because of his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame and a 41-inch vertical leap to go with it, and the Dolphins are hoping he’ll continue to be a threat in the passing game as a pro.

Baker, meanwhile, is just 6-foot-1, 225 pounds and has always been knocked for his size. It would be particularly disadvantageous against Gesicki, but he held his own.

“Ohio State was a big game for us each and every year, and he was the leader of their defense,” Gesicki said. “There were situations where me and him were matched up together and all that kind of stuff. He’s a great player, really athletic, uses his speed to his advantage.

“People are gonna say whatever they’re gonna say (about his size). He’s a great example of blocking that out and getting to where he is today without listening to that.”

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Miami Dolphins 2018 rookies receive uniform numbers

Kalen Ballage and the other 2018 rookies are in town for a minicamp this weekend. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins are hosting 21 rookies for minicamp this week, and with Organized Team Activities beginning May 22, they’ll need uniform numbers. They won’t get helmet decals most likely, but numbers are a necessity.

The only draft pick who will keep his collegiate number is first-rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick. The safety from Alabama will still be No. 29.

Here is the full draft class:

S Minkah Fitzpatrick, first round, 29
TE Mike Gesicki, second round, 86
LB Jerome Baker, third round, 17
TE Durham Smythe, fourth round, 46
RB Kalen Ballage, fourth round, 33
CB Cornell Armstrong, sixth round, 31
LB Quentin Poling, seventh round, 51
K Jason Sanders, seventh round, 7

And the undrafted players, among whom stands the profoundly confident Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis, who incredulously believes himself worthy of wearing Cody Parkey’s old number:

CB Johnathan Alston, 41
LB Cayson Collins, 53
CB Jalen Davis, 1
LS Lucas Gravelle, 49
C Connor Hilland, 61
RB Buddy Howell, 38
K Greg Joseph, 5
DE Claudy Mathieu, 60
LB Mike McCray, 58
DT Anthony Moten, 43
DT Jamiyus Pittman, 65
DE Quincy Redmon, 66
OT David Steinmetz, 69

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

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2018 NFL Draft: Goals for Miami Dolphins’ draft class this offseason

What’s realistic for Minkah Fitzpatrick? (Getty Images)

With the Dolphins’ recent draft class reporting for rookie minicamp this weekend, they’ll need an iPad more than shoulder pads.

The first step toward securing a spot on the depth chart will take place indoors as 20 rookies dive into a playbook they’ll need to nail down by the time Miami hits the field for Organized Team Activities in two weeks.

The goals are incremental, starting with simply proving they’re serious enough about this opportunity to stick around for the four weeks of offseason practices. After that it’s earning the right to stay for training camp in July, when the real competition for jobs begins. The 85-90 players Miami has in camp will scrap for 53 spots.

Of the 20 players expected in Davie this week, only the first five draft picks can reasonably assume anything about their future. Anyone picked in the sixth or seventh round, as well as the dozen undrafted free agents, has nothing close to a guarantee.

As the rookies class begins its venture into this new world, going from college stars to that guy who carries Cameron Wake’s pads off the field, here’s the outlook for the eight players Miami drafted last month:

Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, first round
As good as he is and as much as everyone raves about him being pro-ready, Fitzpatrick is no guarantee to knock T.J. McDonald out of the starting lineup. McDonald is 27 and looked good enough a year ago that Miami gave him a four-year, $24 million extension before he ever played a game. The test run of him and Jones on the back end didn’t go smoothly, and he’ll probably show up to OTAs ready to prove himself again.

The key for Fitzpatrick is to learn quickly and show versatility. The more he can do, the more defensive coordinator Matt Burke will look for places to get him on the field.

Mike Gesicki, tight end, second round
Gesicki is the most likely player in this draft class to earn a starting job, and the Dolphins are banking on him doing so. They have no one like him at the position. He was drafted to be the receiving threat this roster is missing at tight end, and his physical ability should be overwhelming compared to his competitors on the depth chart.

Route-running is the No. 1 job for Gesicki. If he is reliably in the right spots for Ryan Tannehill during offseason practices, it bodes well for his role in the offense going forward. A good showing will prompt Adam Gase to rework his plans over the monthlong break between June minicamp and training camp.

Jerome Baker, linebacker, third round
As thin as the Dolphins are at linebacker, Baker’s in for quite a fight at the position. Undrafted veterans Mike Hull and Chase Allen have stayed on the team because they’re technically sound, and former first-round pick Stephone Anthony is in a contract year. Beyond those players, Baker’s also got to outplay seventh-rounder Quentin Poling.

Baker is more of a coverage linebacker than a thumper, which should work well with what Miami needs. The plan for now is to install Raekwon McMillan at middle and Kiko Alonso on the outside. Baker’s got the requisite speed to capture the other outside job.

Durham Smythe, tight end, fourth round
By their own admission, the Dolphins basically drafted one tight end to can catch passes and one to block. Smythe is the blocker, but he’ll have to be more than that. Even Anthony Fasano, a role model for him, was a factor in the passing game. Over an eight-year span beginning in his third season, Fasano averaged 31 catches, 352 yards and four touchdowns.

That’s a good goal for Smythe. The Dolphins currently have A.J. Derby as a pass-catching threat and MarQueis Gray as a seasoned, savvy player who blocks well and occasionally springs loose as a receiver.

Kalen Ballage, running back, fourth round
Be fast and know the plays. Gase won’t ask much more than that out of Ballage. Kenyan Drake is the clear starter for the Dolphins at running back, and Frank Gore isn’t here merely to play professor. Ballage needs to get himself ready to fill in for Drake this season and to play with him starting in 2019.

In the meantime, he’s got an opportunity to be a threat on special teams. He clocked a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was an effective kick returner each of his last two seasons at Arizona State.

Cornell Armstrong, cornerback, sixth round
The Dolphins’ plan for cornerbacks is to have a lot of them. Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley are the starters, Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett are reinforcements and it’s Hunger Games for everybody else.

Armstrong has 4.4 speed, but wasn’t a particularly outstanding high school or college player. He’ll have to be convincing to assure himself of making the cut over the next four months and he’ll be competing with Torry McTyer, Tracy Howard, Jordan Lucas and others to do so.

Quentin Poling, linebacker, seventh round
The Dolphins currently have eight linebackers on the roster, and Poling is last in line of that group. Additionally, the team is bringing in Cayson Collins from North Carolina and Mike McCray of Michigan as undrafted free agents, and there typically isn’t a huge difference between seventh-round picks and undrafted guys.

Poling’s got good strength and speed, which gives him a nice start in trying to win a job as a special teamer and second-string linebacker. While he’s got some decent competition, this is a position that’s mostly wide open for Miami.

Jason Sanders, kicker, seventh round
Sanders’ situation comes down to the fairly simple question of whether he can outperform undrafted Florida Atlantic kicker Greg Joseph. Whoever makes more kicks and looks better on kickoffs will take Cody Parkey’s old job — unless, of course, someone better becomes available in free agency.

Sanders made 25 of 35 field goals (71 percent) in his college career and hit 111 of 112 extra-point tries. Joseph, who played at American Heritage in Delray Beach, made 57 of 82 field goals (70 percent) and 165 of 170 extra points.

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

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2018 NFL Draft: NFL.com grades Miami Dolphins’ 2018 draft class

Minkah Fitzpatrick seemed too good to last all the way to No. 11. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins’ recent NFL Draft class looked pretty good overall, with the exception of them being unable to land a quarterback they liked, but there doesn’t seem to be much praise for the work they did.

One NFL.com analyst thinks they did OK, though. Lance Zierlein, who does a lot of the site’s pre-draft assessments, put Miami 18th in his NFL Draft power rankings this week. That’s much better than the team scored with ESPN’s Mel Kiper and another NFL.com breakdown.

The Dolphins were surprised they could get Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11, thinking he was no worse than a top-six talent. They followed by addressing needs at tight end in the second round (Mike Gesicki) and linebacker in the third (Jerome Baker), then went for a playmaking running back in Kalen Ballage in Round 4.

“The addition of Fitzpatrick adds more consistency and a strong presence to the back end,” Zierlein wrote. “It will be important for the Dolphins to fit Gesicki into the right role — he’s pass catcher who shouldn’t be asked to do much blocking—but if they do, he could pay off in a big way.

“The rest of the their draft was relatively solid but unspectacular, with the performance of (fourth-round tight end Durham Smythe) and Ballage potentially determining whether this draft was a success.”
Here’s the Dolphins’ full draft class, which reports for rookie minicamp next week:

First round, No. 10 overall: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Second round, No. 42 overall: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Third round, No. 73 overall: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Fourth round, No. 123 overall: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
Fourth round, No. 131 overall: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
Sixth round, No. 209 overall: Cornell Armstrong, CB, Southern Mississippi
Seventh round, No. 227 overall: Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio
Seventh round, No. 229 overall: Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins need TE Mike Gesicki’s impact immediately

Tight end Mike Gesicki joins the Dolphins as a second-round pick. (Getty Images)

It won’t take much for new Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki to be considered a success. He might have extraordinary expectations, but the franchise’s standards at his position have been dangerously low for years.

As the tight ends have grown increasingly important in passing attacks league-wide, the Dolphins have been way behind. Their most recent failed experiments were Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron, and drafting Gesicki in the second round at No. 42 was a desperate attempt to finally find a long-term answer at the position.

Gesicki comes in from Penn State with basketball-style athleticism and a 6-foot-6, 249-pound frame. Over his junior and senior seasons, he combined for 105 receptions, 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He was first among tight ends at the NFL Combine in 40-yard dash with a time of 4.54 seconds, which was better than what some highly ranked wide receivers clocked. He also finished No. 1 in vertical leap (41.5 inches), broad jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.

That’s a lot to work with, and the Dolphins get the opportunity to start shaping him when he arrives with the rest of the draftees next week for rookie minicamp. They’ll also bring in at least a dozen undrafted rookies.

Their hope for Gesicki, whom they chose over Dallas Goedert, is that he can provide a red zone threat that’s been missing at tight end for years.

Before this continues, a brief history of Miami Dolphins tight ends:

— Anyone 26 or younger has never witnessed the splendor of seeing one selected to the Pro Bowl.

— The franchise record for touchdown catches at the position is seven by Keith Jackson in 1994 and Anthony Fasano in 2008. Seven.

— Of the four previous tight ends they’ve drafted since 2010, Dion Sims topped out with a 26-catch season in 2016, Thomas Duarte has appeared in one game, Michael Egnew caught seven passes in two years before dropping out of the league and Arthur Lynch never made it.

— They’ve never picked one in the first round.

Absorb all that and it makes sense that Thomas’ 41 catches, 388 yards and three touchdowns actually qualified as a decent year by a Dolphins tight end. It was better than what they’d gotten from anyone else at the position since letting Charles Clay walk in free agency in 2015.

Coming into this year, it would’ve been more of the same. Miami’s best hope prior to the draft was A.J. Derby, a 26-year-old they got off waivers from the Broncos last season. He’s shown some promise on the practice field, but the Dolphins were his third team in two seasons and he’s got 37 career catches.

Behind Derby, the team would’ve gone into the upcoming season with MarQueis Gray (27 career receptions), Gavin Escobar (30) and Duarte (none). To say that tight end was a draft need would be putting it gently.

The Dolphins answered by taking Gesicki at No. 42, the third-highest they’ve ever picked a tight end, and adding Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe in the fourth round. Gesicki is the receiver of the two, and Smythe is the blocker.

They’ve bypassed some serious tight ends in the draft lately, including Ole Miss’ Evan Engram and University of Miami’s David Njoku a year ago in favor of drafting defensive end Charles Harris at No. 22. Engram went one pick later and put up 64 catches, 722 yards and six touchdowns for the Giants, while Njoku had a reasonably solid rookie year in Cleveland with 32, 386 and four.

Another notable miss came in 2013, when the Chiefs landed a generational tight end in Travis Kelce at No. 63 overall—nine picks after Miami took cornerback Jamar Taylor.

Clay was the last great find, emerging as an above-average tight end after the Dolphins scooped him up in the sixth round in 2011. He’s never made a Pro Bowl, though he did give Miami 127 catches, 1,364 yards and 10 touchdowns over the 2013 and ’14 seasons. Those numbers aren’t overwhelming, but only Randy McMichael had a better two-year run.

Clay left for Buffalo on a five-year, $38 million contract in 2015, and the Dolphins didn’t deem him special enough exercise their option to match the deal. Over the ensuing two years, Thomas was the best replacement Miami could find.

Thomas, by the way, was a player the Dolphins acquired because the Jaguars were about to waive him. He would’ve been in the free agency bargain bin had Miami not traded a seventh-rounder to get him, and that’s the kind of shopping this team doesn’t want to do anymore.

Now the Dolphins have their own young, gifted tight end and the chance to mold him into exactly what they need. In one sense, there’s little pressure on Gesicki because the standards haven’t been very high, but there’s also a lot riding on him finally being Miami’s breakthrough at a position that’s been problematic for a long time.

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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Who cares if second-rounder Mike Gesicki can’t block? Miami Dolphins need receiving threat at TE

Penn State’s Mike Gesicki catches a 16-yard touchdown pass against Rutgers in November 2017 in a scene Dolphins fans would like to see in 2018. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

DAVIE — After Penn State routed Rutgers 35-6 late last season, Matt Millen, an analyst on the Big Ten Network and a former Nittany Lion, slammed into tight end Mike Gesicki in ways that the Scarlet Knights could not.

Despite saying he didn’t “want to dog the guy,” Millen both barked and bit, labeling Gesicki’s blocking “embarrassing” and saying if Gesicki wants to play in the NFL, he’ll have to improve in that department.

The Dolphins were so unmoved about Gesicki’s blocking that they spent their second-round pick on him, which set off more critics.

In the name of the great Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich, everybody needs to take a deep breath.

No, Mike Gesicki won’t be mowing down people for Kenyan Drake or protecting Ryan Tannehill’s surgically repaired knee this year. Or maybe ever.

So?

You can go ahead and call Gesicki one-dimensional.

I’ll say Dolphins tight ends have been one-dimensional for ages.

The wrong dimension.

There’s nothing wrong with a blocking tight end who can’t catch, but if it’s either/or, consider these two questions: 1. When’s the last time you turned off a game thinking the reason the Dolphins lost was those swell blocks by the opposing tight end? (Answer: Maybe never.) 2. How many times did you see the Dolphins’ defense flailing and failing last season as it was gashed by pass-catching tight ends, including no-names? (Answer: Often.)

One you may have heard of is Rob Gronkowski. Fine blocker, Gronk is. How many know that? How many care? To be fixated on his blocking is to look at the Mona Lisa and care only that it’s in a gaudy frame. It’s Gronk’s receiving skills that are a work of art, of course, creating matchup nightmares for defenses. It’s long past time that the Dolphins give the Patriots the kind of migraines Gronk gives Miami.

If the Dolphins finally found a guy who can get separation downfield, who can work the seams, who can move the chains, who can operate in the red zone, who can make coordinators think twice about doubling Kenny Stills or DeVante Parker or Danny Amendola, hallelujah.

Julius Thomas led the Dolphins’ tight ends in receiving last year. He had 388 yards. It was a vast improvement over 2016. Dion Sims had 256. You probably covered more ground fetching beer.

The only tight ends the Dolphins have had this century who could keep defenses honest were Charles Clay and Randy McMichael. It helps explain why the Dolphins lead civilization in chip-shot field goals. So with a power forward dangling on the draft board, the Dolphins did what they had to do: slam-dunked that index card with Gesicki’s name on it.


‘There’s a lot of really good tight ends that are pass catchers that aren’t great blockers.’ — Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier


Last season, Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Delanie Walker were the top tight ends in receiving yardage. They play, respectively, for the Patriots, Chiefs, Eagles and Titans. The TD-leading tight ends were Jimmy Graham (Seahawks), Ertz, Gronkowski, Kelce and Kyle Rudolph (Vikings). Every one of those teams except Seattle made the playoffs.

A good receiving tight end doesn’t guarantee anything, but a lack of one means the line to gain may as well be somewhere off in Broward County.

Gesicki is 6-feet-6 and 252 pounds, which suggests he ought to be a better blocker than he is. ESPN’s Todd McShay said his blocking is “tough to watch” and called him a one-trick pony but admitted “his trick is pretty good.” Fellow analyst Louis Riddick added, “What they need is impact players on offense. They couldn’t care less about his blocking.”

Bingo. Minutes after picking Gesicki, Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier, without even being asked, addressed the noise by blocking it out.

“The one thing everybody talks about is him not being a great blocker,” Grier said. “But there’s a lot of really good tight ends that are pass catchers that aren’t great blockers.”

Grier said today’s basketball-playing tight ends struggle with blocking techniques because they’re so tall they have a hard time getting down at the point of attack. It’s not an excuse; it’s reality.

One reason to dismiss Gesicki’s shortcoming as an inconvenience is running back Frank Gore. Even at 35, Gore can be Tannehill’s comfort blanket in protection. Andrew Luck knows. It’s why he hated to see Gore leave the Colts.

And just to make sure they solved The Tight End Thing, the Dolphins came right back in the fourth round and added Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe, a 6-6, 257-pound blocking tight end.

For his part, Gesicki acknowledges his weakness.

“I definitely need to continue to improve my run blocking and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

Knock yourself out, Mike.

Just don’t forget where your meal ticket came from.

Can Durham Smythe fill Anthony Fasano’s shoes as a Miami Dolphins rookie?

BREAKING: Miami Dolphins select LB Jerome Baker in third round of NFL Draft

Will Miami Dolphins second rounder Mike Gesicki do Jimmy Graham-like things?

For Miami Dolphins, addition of DB weapon Minkah Fitzpatrick a stunning coup

[Vote: Grade all of the Dolphins’ draft picks]

[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

[Miami Dolphins stuck without a QB in Round 1 of NFL Draft; Will it cost them?]

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins fill needs, get juice without being irresponsible

Minkah Fitzpatrick is a big reason the Dolphins think they got good value this year. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — This works.

It’s not amazing, it’s not particularly thrilling, but it’ll do.

The Dolphins got most of what they needed out of this year’s NFL Draft, including at least two players who should be instant starters at need positions, and they look a little better today than they did at the start of the week. Filling holes and getting better is what the draft’s all about, and Miami accomplished both of those.

And the team got all that done without giving in to any impulsive trades that sacrifice its chances of continuing to upgrade next spring. All eight picks for 2019 remain intact.

[Vote: Grade all of the Dolphins’ draft picks]

[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

“You always want to make sure you have ammunition for next year,” said general manager Chris Grier, who added that the Dolphins would’ve made a trade if a good one presented itself. “We got great value.”

And, as vice president Mike Tannenbaum pointed out, they’d already brought in former all-pro defensive end Robert Quinn for one of this year’s fourth rounders, and they weren’t going to pick anybody better than him this late in the draft.

The crown jewel of Miami’s class is No. 11 pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was thought to be a borderline top-five talent out of Alabama. At the time, it seemed like bad luck for the Dolphins that all the best quarterbacks were gone before its spot came up, but that’s part of the reason Fitzpatrick fell to them in what they believe will be an incredible value pick.

They had Fitzpatrick as one of the six best players on their draft board and were surprised he was available. If he overtakes T.J. McDonald for a starting safety job this summer, it’ll be a good early indicator that the Dolphins played it well in the first round.

There were quarterbacks they liked in that top group, especially Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield, but they made the decision well in advance that they weren’t mortgaging the future — like the Jets and Bills did — to move up and take one of them. It was tense in the draft room waiting to see if someone would slip to them, but restraint reigned.

Are there bigger needs than safety? Definitely. But it’s an important enough position and a talented enough prospect that Miami had to pounce.

Addressing needs came later, and the Dolphins showed conviction once again by taking tight end Mike Gesicki in the second round at No. 43 overall. He’s the guy they believed in, even though most analysts had Dallas Goedert ahead of him at the position.

Goedert was thought to be going late in the first round at one point, and Gesicki was cast as possibly a fourth-rounder early in the pre-draft coverage. The Dolphins vetted both of them and stayed true to their board, which had Gesicki second only to South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst.

Gesicki and fourth-round pick Kalen Ballage, a speedy running back who can also make an impact in the passing game, give Miami some badly needed playmaking threats in an offense that has been dull and ineffective for way too long.

Adam Gase was brought in to change that and hasn’t been able to do so yet. Over his two seasons as head coach, the Dolphins have ranked 24th in points, 27th in yardage and kept the ball on offense more than just six teams. Bad and boring.

Gesicki and Ballage aren’t bad or boring. They bolster the speed and athleticism of a collection of skill players Gase says is very close to what he envisioned when he took the helm.

The big letdown of this draft is that Miami didn’t land a quarterback, and the roster certainly seems like it needed a promising rookie to work behind Ryan Tannehill this season and eventually challenge him.

But Gase warned everyone a month ago that might happen. If there’s one area in which he deserves to be trusted, it’s quarterbacks. Question him on a bunch of other things, but he’s built his career off his expertise at this position. He wasn’t on board with taking a quarterback just to appease people and get someone in the pipeline.

“Are we taking a guy just to take a guy?” he said in March. “I mean I’d love to add a quarterback as much as anybody else but at the same time, I want it to be the right guy for us.”

After the draft, Grier added, “We weren’t going to reach for any quarterback.”

None of the top four were convincing enough for him to sell of big-time future assets. He wasn’t sold on Mason Rudolph, a highly rated prospect from Oklahoma State who was available at No. 73 overall, and the Dolphins went for Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker there instead.

Baker solved another problem for a roster that was, and maybe still is, woefully thin at linebacker.

Everything after the fourth round is usually about scouring the list for talent that can at least make an NFL roster, but the Dolphins also made good use of that opportunity by locking in kicker Jason Sanders from New Mexico with their final pick rather than having to scramble for an undrafted free agent in frenzy of phone calls that always follows the final pick.

Filling the two most glaring roster needs in the first three rounds is sensible, and adding a talent of Fitzpatrick’s caliber makes that a good haul already. If Ballage and anyone else materializes into an asset, even better.

[Miami Dolphins stuck without a QB in Round 1 of NFL Draft; Will it cost them?]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins beef up linebacker corps with Quentin Poling

Quentin Poling (right) joins a thin Dolphins linebacker corps. (Getty Images)

DAVIE–The Dolphins have keyed in on two positions of need in this year’s draft, double-dipping at tight end and linebacker.

They took Ohio’s Quentin Poling in the seventh round at No. 227 overall, adding him to a draft class that already includes fellow linebacker Jerome Baker.

Poling is a 6-foot, 235-pounder who was hugely disruptive at Ohio. He got significant playing time right away and piled up 43.5 tackles for loss over four seasons. Last year, he had 163 tackles, five sacks, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

Baker and Poling join a linebacker crew that has few certainties beyond the fact that Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso will be starters.

The Dolphins jumped on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama in the first round at No. 10 overall, then addressed two big needs in the starting lineup by picking tight end Mike Gesicki in the second and linebacker Jerome Baker in the third.

Here’s the Dolphins 2018 draft class so far:
First round, No. 10 overall: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Second round, No. 42 overall: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Third round, No. 73 overall: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Fourth round, No. 123 overall: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
Fourth round, No. 131 overall: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
Sixth round, No. 209 overall: Cornell Armstrong, CB, Southern Mississippi
Seventh round, No. 227 overall: Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio

Their final pick is at No. 229 in the seventh round.

[Vote: Grade all of the Dolphins’ draft picks]

[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

[Miami Dolphins stuck without a QB in Round 1 of NFL Draft; Will it cost them?]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins load up at TE with Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe

Durham Smythe is the newest Miami Dolphin. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — The Dolphins are taking tight end seriously in this year’s NFL Draft after a few years of struggling at the position.

They took Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe in the fourth round today at No. 123 overall and will pair him with Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, who they chose 42nd last night.

Smythe, 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, has been credited as one of the better blocking tight ends in this year’s class, which will be particularly important for Miami if veteran Anthony Fasano does not return. Fasano, who also played at Notre Dame, was someone he studied on film as he developed in college.

While Gesicki is a basketball-style athlete who the team hopes will become a huge factor in the passing game, Smythe was brought in to fill a different role. In 22 career games at Notre Dame, he caught just 28 passes for 381 yards and six touchdowns.

Gesicki and Smythe have a chance to be Miami’s top two tight ends going into the season. Prior to the draft, the team had four players at the position who have yet to prove themselves as viable contributors in the passing game.

A.J. Derby would have been the likely starter and he has 37 career catches. Now he’ll compete with Gesicki for the top job. The Dolphins also have MarQueis Gray, Thomas Duarte and recent signee Gavin Escobar.

Here are the Dolphins’ picks so far:
First round, No. 10 overall: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Second round, No. 42 overall: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Third round, No. 73 overall: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Fourth round, No. 123 overall: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame

And here are their remaining selections today:
–Sixth round, No. 209 overall
–Seventh round, No. 227 overall
–Seventh round, No. 229 overall

[Vote: Grade all of the Dolphins’ draft picks]

[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

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NFL Draft 2018: Get to know new Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki

Tight end Mike Gesicki #88 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after making an 11-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against the USC Trojans during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

With the 42nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins took Mike Gesicki out of Penn State.

Get to know the Dolphins new 6’6” tight end with five fast facts:

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1. Gesicki played four seasons at Penn State, turning in his highest receiving-yard total during his junior year, gaining 679 yards on 48 catches. Though his yardage output went down as a senior, Gesicki did have a career-high 57 catches and nine touchdowns last year.

2. The 247-pound New Jersey native was considered one of the best tight ends in his recruiting class. According to 24/7 Sports’ composite ranking, Gesicki was the sixth best tight end recruit in the country and the seventh best overall recruit out of New Jersey. Among the notable players ranked ahead of him were Browns safety Jabrill Peppers and fellow-2018 draft pick Quenton Nelson.

3. Gesicki dominated the NFL Combine, running a 4.54 second 40-yard dash, tying N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels for the best time among tight ends. Among tight ends, he also had the best vertical jump, broad jump and time in the three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle, along with the second highest bench-press total.

4. At Southern Regional High School in Stafford Township, N.J., Gesicki set all-time school records for receiving yards, receptions and touchdown catches.

5. Gesicki starred in three sports in high school. Along with football, he played basketball and volleyball. In volleyball, he led his team to two straight state titles and set the school record for blocks. In basketball, he graduated as the school’s all-time leader in scoring.

* PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas

* Grading the Dolphins’ first and second-day picks