Dolphins reach agreements with undrafted rookies after draft, including prospect who never played a college snap

After the Miami Dolphins completed their seven-player draft class with five picks Saturday, the team’s brass got to work on bringing in their top remaining prospects as undrafted free agents.

One target they reached an agreement with is one of the more intriguing players in the 2024 class, Bayron Matos, a USF basketball player from the Dominican Republic who walked on to the football team but never played in any games.

Along with Matos, the Dolphins are signing, according to a league source: FAU wide receiver Je’Quan Burton, Louisville cornerback Storm Duck, Syracuse defensive back Isaiah Johnson, Ohio State offensive lineman Matthew Jones, UCLA defensive lineman Grayson Murphy, Colorado defensive lineman Leonard Payne, TCU safety Mark Perry, Rhode Island safety Jordan Colbert, Wisconsin tight end Hayden Rucci, Texas-El Paso quarterback Gavin Hardison and his center at UTEP, Andrew Meyer.

Matos is an offensive line prospect for the NFL with his 6-foot-7, 313-pound build. His body type, athleticism and long arms make him an interesting option that can compete throughout the offseason and into training camp.

Matos is also part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which gives opportunities to foreign players. Some believed he could drafted Saturday.

He received one of the best deals among undrafted prospects across the league, reportedly getting a $22,500 signing bonus and $247,500 in total guarantees.

“The back end of the draft, it is the scouts’ Super Bowl,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said as Miami wrapped up its draft Saturday evening.

“Working with that and the coaches, that’s where the coaches and scouts take pride in the work on the back end of trying to figure out the players who aren’t fortunate enough to get drafted, figuring out how they fit onto your roster and needs.”

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The Dolphins have historically found success with undrafted rookies. Last year, three such prospects made Miami’s initial 53-man roster: running back Chris Brooks, tight end Julian Hill and nose tackle Brandon Pili. Cornerbacks Kader Kohou and Nik Needham and offensive lineman Robert Jones are others to have made Miami’s active roster in recent years.

Duck is a defensive back with strong man-coverage skills. Transferring to Louisville last year after first attending North Carolina, he had three interceptions with the Tar Heels last season. He reportedly received a $20,000 signing bonus and $150,000 guaranteed, solid figures for a preferred undrafted pickup.

Burton had 24 receptions for 277 yards last season for the Owls.

Hardison missed time with UTEP last year, but in five seasons with the Miners, he threw for 7,963 yards, 40 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.

Could his addition mean the dream of having Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa paired with his brother, Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa, on the roster be over? Grier did say earlier Saturday Miami had him on their draft board.

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Johnson had 188 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, 14 pass breakups and three interceptions in his collegiate career, split between Syracuse and Dartmouth.

Rucci made 17 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown over the past two seasons with the Badgers.

Jones trained for the draft locally in South Florida at Bommarito Performance Systems.

The 12 undrafted signings were added onto the Dolphins’ seven-pick rookie draft class: Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson (first round), Houston tackle Patrick Paul (second), Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (fourth), Colorado State edge defender Mohamed Kamara (fifth), Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington (sixth), California safety Patrick McMorris (sixth) and USC wide receiver Tahj Washington (seventh).

It’s a smaller class of undrafted free agents than the past two years as the Dolphins had a full draft class, as opposed to the four-pick drafts of the previous two. Miami also then began the process of inviting other prospects to rookie minicamp, which takes place May 10-11, for a tryout with the team.