The Dolphins got their tight end. Just not the one most suspected.
Miami selected Penn State's Mike Gesicki with the draft's 42nd pick Friday, taking the big-school product over South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert.
Gesicki caught 129 passes for 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns in his four-year collegiate career. He's big. He's fast. But he did not have a great appetite for blocking in college.
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The Dolphins believe they can teach Gesicki that skill and thus turn him into a complete player.
"Jimmy Graham was not a good blocker coming out," Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said. "These tall guys … Name a good tight end with those types of build that are good blockers at the line of scrimmage? .... I think with us, we’ll spend time and he said he wants to spend time working to improve his blocking because he wants to be the best all-around tight end in the game. Every kid says that coming out and we’ll see, but we’re very excited to have him."
As for Goedert, who also made a visit to Dolphins HQ, he went seven picks later to the Philadelphia Eagles — who just won the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the team's deciding factor for Miami: Gesicki played in the Big Ten.
Goedert played in the Missouri Valley.
Grier insisted that the Dolphins evaluate the player, not the conference, but it cannot be a coincidence that this power structure has never selected a player from a non-Power 5 conference.
Gesicki's measureables (6-foot-6, 252 pounds, 4.54-second 40-yard dash) intrigued the Dolphins. His tape and campus visit earlier this month sold them on the player.
The Dolphins need to get this one right. They cut Julius Thomas following one disappointing season. Teams have not had to account for Dolphins tight ends in years.
So Gesicki has an excellent chance to start right away.
"He and Dowell [Loggains] and the offensive staff, and tight ends coach Shane Day are thrilled with the red zone possibilities and he’s a hard matchup for people, being that big and athletic," Grier said. "Move the chains on third down and then his speed will open up other stuff on the field for you. It is just a lot of possibilities."
Gesicki was a standout volleyball player in high school, and he credited that experience for helping him become the player he is. But that's just half the story of how athletic Gesicki is.
He was also his high school's all-time leading scorer in basketball and won the New Jersey slam dunk contest.
Yet, Goedert enters the league with two challenges to overcome:
1. Be better than Goedert, who will forever be a comp.
And 2. Block better than he has in his life.
"If you are looking for a tight end who can line up and help in the running game, he's not your guy," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote. "However, if you want a pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties, he might be your guy. Gesicki needs to improve his play strength and his issues as a blocker could limit the amount of teams who will target him, but he has a chance to become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league."
*** Another round, another need pick at No. 73.
The Dolphins took Ohio State outside linebacker Jerome Baker in Round 3, addressing a significant deficiency — but in a roundabout way.
The Dolphins needed a strong-side linebacker after cutting Lawrence Timmons. Enter Baker, who tipped the scales at just 229 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine.
So the Dolphins lose some size in the transaction, but gain a ton of defensive speed — which has been the point of the weekend. Like Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins' first-round pick, Baker can fly.
He ran a 4.53-second 40 at the Combine — which is in the 89th percentile for his position. He also broad jumped 126 inches and his vertical was 36 1/2 inches.
Grier said that 250-pound linebackers "are the way of the dinosaur," but between McMillan and Alonso, the Dolphins have ample size at the position.
"We want to get faster at the position," Grier added.
Baker becomes the second OSU linebacker taken by the Dolphins in as many years. The Dolphins took Raekwon McMillan in Round 2 a year ago; Baker said McMillan was a mentor in college.
"I can play fast. I can also run fast," Baker said. "I'm the whole package, for sure."
Baker honorable mention all-Big Ten in 2017. He led the Buckeyes with 72 tackles (eight for loss) and also had 3 1/2 sacks.