Adam Gase addressed his 2017 rookies for the first time last week. His message to those 21 brand-new pros?
“This is a prove-it league,” Gase said Friday. “It doesn’t matter what round you were drafted — if you were drafted — nobody really cares. If you can play, you’ll be out there. If you’re a rookie over a 10-year guy and you’re better, you’ll play. No one cares. I think when you’re a rookie, if you hear that, then you know to get to work and see where these chips fall.”
He might as well been speaking directly to Isaiah Ford. While Ford, a receiver from Virginia Tech, was drafted, it wasn’t until the seventh round.
On some teams, that would be a giant cinder block around his neck. But not here.
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“I liked it a lot,” Ford said of Gase’s overriding point: “If you do your job, if you’re accountable and we can rely on you, then you’ll play."
Ford checked all of those boxes in college. He led the Hokies in catches in each of his three years, breaking the school record as both a sophomore (75) and junior (79). Ford finished as Virginia Tech’s most prolific receiver ever — despite forgoing his senior year.
Then how, exactly, did he fall to the 237th overall pick in April’s draft?
He ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. That’s almost forgivable if you’re 6-foot-5. But it’ll cost you big time if you’re only 6-1.
“I expect to come in, to compete and to work as hard as I can,” Ford said. “My work ethic is something that I’ve always taken a lot of pride in because I think that’s something that can’t be graded, like a 40-yard dash or a vertical, something like that. You can’t judge work ethic. You can’t judge heart, as well. So those are the two things I pride myself in and that’s what I want to give this organization.”
The Dolphins won’t release a depth chart until August. But if they did, Ford would probably be their No. 7 receiver behind Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo, Rashawn Scott and Jakeem Grant.
But as Gase suggested, that’s subject to much change. Carroo was a complete disappointment as a rookie, and if he doesn’t show great improvement in Year 2, he might not even be on the roster. Scott and Grant don’t have jobs locked up, either.
So if Ford shows up in the NFL like he did in college, he might not only make the team, but play meaningful snaps.
“I think that room has a chance to be really good and really deep,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “But we’ve got a ways to go. ... But I really think that this can be a great year for our young receivers.”
Christensen added: “The fourth and the fifth receiver are playing positions. Right? The chances – the odds are – that the fourth player is going to have to play some big snaps before the season is over. Hopefully everyone stays healthy and they never get on the field, but the percentages say that the fourth receiver has to play some huge snaps and some critical snaps in the season. So it’s important we have a guy there."