Dolphins set for rookie camp: Feedback from their coaches. And why a concern might not be

Dolphins rookies will participate in the team’s rookie minicamp (closed to the public) on Friday and Saturday. That group includes seven draft picks, 12 players who are expected to signed as undrafted rookies and more than a dozen players on tryouts.

Before it starts, some feedback from head coaches, from the past year, on some of the Dolphins’ draft picks:

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel on running back Jaylen Wright: “When we got here, he was a fast kid that just tried to run around everybody. Now has got great patience, great vision, and still has the home run speed to take it the distance… Proud of [him].”

Penn State coach James Franklin, on edge rusher Chop Robinson: “We are so proud of Chop for being selected by the Miami Dolphins. Chop will be an explosive, disruptive pass rusher and run stopper in the NFL. He was determined and committed to taking his game to the next level the moment he stepped on campus.”

Colorado State coach Jay Norvell on edge rusher Mo Kamara: “He’s so relentless. We talk a lot about the energy. When Saturday comes, man, you have to be ready to empty your tank, and Mo gives great effort every day. He’s relentless. He’s a leader by example.”

Virginia coach Tony Elliott on receiver Malik Washington: “He’s one of six players in ACC history to go over 100 catches in a season; that’s pretty special. But it also speaks to his durability, his availability, the way that he prepares. He’s a fierce competitor, continues to find ways to push himself to get better.”

USC coach Lincoln Riley on receiver Tahj Washington: “He’s one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. There’s no job too big and no job too small. He’s just tremendous. He’s a great special teams player. He’s a great blocker. He’s really focused. He’s really worked hard at his craft.

“There was a laundry list of things when we got here evaluating that we knew he needed to improve on quickly. We laid those out for him in the plan and he just takes it and runs with it.

“Not once has he ever come to my office saying, ‘Can I get more plays? Can I get more touches? He just goes and works. He’ll have the same look on his face after the game if he played 20 snaps and caught two balls or if he played 80 snaps and caught 12 balls. That’s just him.

“His mind-set, as a coach, that’s kind of what you draw up. If you had a team full of guys like that, you’d be really, really difficult to beat.”

Miami’s full list of draft picks: Robinson (21st overall), Houston left tackle Patrick Paul (55th), Wright (120th), Kamara (158th), Malik Washington (184th), California safety Patrick McMorris (198th) and Tahj Washington (241).

The undrafted rookies who are expected to sign: USF offensive lineman Bayron Matos, TCU safety Mark Perry, Louisville cornerback Storm Duck, Ohio State guard/center Matthew Jones, UTEP center Andrew Meyer, UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison, Rhode Island safety Jordan Colbert, Wisconsin tight end Hayden Rucci, Syracuse cornerback Isaiah Johnson, Colorado defensive tackle Leonard Payne, FAU receiver Je’Quan Burton and UCLA edge player Grayson Murphy, who had the most career quarterbacks pressures of any player in this draft class, per PFF.


Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the Dolphins roster shouldn’t be quite so worrisome, after all.

Though the Dolphins seemingly are attempting to replace Christian Wilkins with career backups Neville Gallimore and Jonathan Harris, keep in mind this point made by Kyle Crabbs, the host of Locked on Dolphins:

New defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, who was Baltimore’s defensive line coach the past two seasons, coached with a Ravens scheme that used only one defensive tackle on more than 55 percent of their snaps last season. Two defensive tackles played more than 40 percent of Ravens’ snaps. That accounts for nearly all of Baltimore’s defensive snaps. Conversely, Miami opened seven games with three defensive tackles on the field at the same time.

Here’s why those starts from Crabbs are meaningful: Zach Sieler is one of the most durable defensive tackles in the NFL, and his stamina is exceptional. He played 856 defensive snaps last season (78 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps) and 77 percent in 2023.

So if Sieler is often the one tackle on the field, in a lineup with five defensive backs; inside linebackers David Long Jr. and Jordyn Brooks (with Duke Riley or Anthony Walker giving them some breaks); and three edge players (especially when Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb are healthy), that’s one potential grouping — especially against pass-heavy teams or traditional passing downs.

Or Sieler, six defensive backs, and four linebackers could be on the field on obvious passing downs.

Would such a one-defensive tackle lineup hold up against the run against teams that pound the ball? After all, Sieler and Long (two very good run defenders) can do only so much. The answer is “we’ll see.” But when playing such teams, Weaver assuredly will use a natural nose tackle more often.

Nose tackle Teiar Tart was an effective run stuffer for Tennessee in 2021 and 2022 before his career went sideways last season. So when Miami plays two defensive tackles, Sieler and Tart can handle that load — unless Benito Jones beats out Tart, which is certainly possible after Jones was a starter for Detroit last season.

So if Sieler stays healthy — and if Weaver uses a scheme similar to the one that now-Seahawks coach Mike MacDonald used as Ravens defensive coordinator the past two years — then there won’t need to be a reliance on Gallimore or Harris to play a ton of snaps. They’ll be rotational tackles, but they won’t be needed as every-down players.