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Miami Dolphins’ NFL draft options: Tight ends

The South Florida Sun Sentinel continues its 10-part series looking at the top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft (April 28-30) with tight ends. The class has several prospects that should be drafted. With their first pick at No. 102, the Miami Dolphins will likely be able to find a formidable prospect that can compete for a role with either their late-third-round pick or their fourth-round selection.

Colorado State’s Trey McBride

McBride, who caught 164 passes for 2,100 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, has elite ball skills and the quickness needed to get open against NFL linebackers. He goes hard as a blocker, which gives him a chance to be a three-down tight end. But he has average speed and isn’t elusive with the ball in his hands, which will likely keep him out of the first round.

Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert

This well-rounded tight end was under utilized in the Buckeyes offense, where he only caught 54 passes for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns in his four seasons. He’s a high-motor player who can handle in-line blocking and is athletic enough to pull away from defenders.

Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson

Ferguson is a reliable, sure-handed target who could use some refining in his route running and in-line blocking. He’s caught 145 passes for 1,618 yards and 13 touchdowns in the 47 games he’s played the past four seasons. He’s got soft hands, and has the talent to be more than a get-in-the-way blocker for the right scheme.

UCLA’s Greg Dulcich

Dulcich flashes the ability to pressure defenses vertically, and has the savvy route running needed to excel in the NFL. He excelled in his last two seasons at UCLA, playing in a Chip Kelly offense, catching 68 passes in 18 games, and turning them into 1,242 yards and a touchdown.

Coastal Carolina Isaiah Likely

Likely is a well-coordinated athlete who has the potential to become a dangerous seam threat playmaker in the right offense. Last season he caught 59 passes for 912 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, but there should be some concern about the level of competition he’s faced. He’s undersized for his position (6-4, 245), but a willing blocker.

Best of the rest

At one point Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer was viewed as the best tight end in this draft class, but his unimpressive combine numbers have cooled off the hype surrounding him. It’s possible that he could play better than he tests. Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar, Washington’s Cade Otton, UAB’s Gerrit Prince, San Jose State’s Derrick Deese Jr., and Nevada’s Cole Turner could carve out respectable NFL careers for themselves.

Class grade: C-

There is no Kyle Pitts in the 2022 crop of tight ends, but there are a handful of players who could become Day 1 starters, and another handful that might put together respectable 4- to 8-year NFL careers. Surprisingly, this class of tight ends features more likable in-line talents who simply need a decent investment.

Teams in need

Very few teams desperately need tight end upgrades this year, which could make this the perfect year to acquire one in Day 2 and stash him away for a season or two. The Commanders, Vikings, Texans, Broncos all have a glaring needs and could add another piece.

Dolphins’ focus

The Dolphins ensured that the tight end room remained intact this offseason when Mike Gesicki received the franchise tag, and Durham Smythe signed a two-year deal worth $7 million. That means Hunter Long, a 2022 third-round pick, must find a way to push for playing time, if not a starting role. Adam Shaheen is still around, providing versatility. If the Dolphins do select a tight end it will likely be in later rounds.

Previously addressed

Miami Dolphins’ NFL draft options: Quarterbacks

Miami Dolphins’ NFL draft options: Running backs

Miami Dolphins’ NFL draft options: Offensive linemen

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