Dolphins get pass rusher, pass catcher in third

Kevin Fishbain
April 28, 2012
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Despite addressing two positions of strength in the third round, the Dolphins added two players who fill needs in terms of specific skills.

Miami stayed local, selecting former Hurricanes DE Olivier Vernon. With Phillip Merling gone, the Dolphins did have an opening on the D-line, though it’s one of the stronger position groups on the team. However, the Dolphins desperately needed another player to rush the passer to complement Cameron Wake.

Vernon is an “athletic power rusher,” Nolan Nawrocki wrote in PFW's 2012 Draft Preview book. But Vernon was a disappointment as a junior after returning from suspension, which likely knocked down his draft stock. Vernon has intriguing strength and “plays with aggression.” An explosive take-off is something else the Dolphins and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle must have seen with Vernon, who could factor in the rotation up front.

On offense, the Dolphins have plenty of tight ends but not necessarily a strong group of pass catchers, so they traded down with San Diego in the third round and selected Missouri TE Michael Egnew. A “quick-handed, natural catcher,” Egnew is a “finesse seam catcher” who will compete to be the pass-catching complement to TE Anthony Fasano. He joins former basketball player Les Brown, who has intriguing athleticism and pass-catching skills, but the Dolphins’ other tight ends, Jeron Mastrud and Will Yeatman, are primarily blockers, while Charles Clay will be used at fullback and a variety of other spots.

Egnew’s stock went down from where it was earlier in his college career, and he struggles in blocking. But the Dolphins’ West Coast offense needs playmakers, especially up the seam. Fasano can block and is effective in the red zone, but he isn’t from the same mold we’ve seen at the position in the likes of Aaron Hernandez and Jermichael Finley, Joe Philbin’s tight end in Green Bay.

Which brings us to another point — the Packers carried five tight ends on their active roster last season. Clearly, the position is important to Philbin, and his offense needs to have players who are adept at catching the ball and making plays in the open field.

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