Miami Dolphins

Meet Durham Smythe, the Miami Dolphins' ping-pong whiz who (briefly) broke Mom's heart

Miami Dolphins rookie tight end Durham Smythe speaks with reporters during rookie minicamp last weekend.
Miami Dolphins rookie tight end Durham Smythe speaks with reporters during rookie minicamp last weekend. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Why take one when you can take two?

That was the Dolphins' draft philosophy regarding tight ends, selecting Notre Dame's Durham Smythe just two rounds after they took Mike Gesicki from Penn State.

The instant analysis on the picks was Gesicki will catch and Smythe will block. And there's a lot of truth to that. But that would also short-change both players, who believe they can each become complete tight ends.

Gesicki has gotten the bulk of media attention since he went 42nd overall, so let's get to know Smythe, Miami's first of two fourth-round picks.

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-5 3/8 (78th percentile among linebackers).

Weight: 253 pounds (46th percentile).

Wingspan: 77 3/8 inches (44th percentile).

Arm length: 31 3/4 inches (8th percentile).

Hand size: 9 1/4 inches (11th percentile).

40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds (40th percentile).

Vertical jump: 31 inches (29th percentile).

Broad jump: 110 inches (21st percentile).

Three-cone drill: 7.17 seconds (43rd percentile).

20-yard shuttle: 4.23 seconds (79th percentile).

60-yard shuttle: 11.86 seconds (61st percentile).

Bench press: 18 reps (30th percentile).

Comparisons (according to MockDraftTable.com): Jake McGee (Florida, 2016), Brody Eldridge (Oklahoma, 2010), Jake Butt (Michigan, 2017).

Q&A with Miami reporters

What are your thoughts on being selected in the draft where there was a fellow tight end also selected?

“It was awesome, first and foremost, just getting the call, regardless of the situation. I was fortunate enough to be part of a great organization, so I was excited about that. I’ve played with Mike before. I knew him through the whole pre-draft process. We were teammates at the Senior Bowl, so we got to know each other a little bit. We played actually in a couple of two-tight end sets together during the game and practice. He’s a guy I’ve played with before, gotten to know and overall, I was just really excited about it."

For somebody who hasn’t seen you play, can you describe your game?

"Yes, sure. Throughout my four years at Notre Dame, I tried to be a guy who was what we called a complete tight end. We went through a few offenses in my time at Notre Dame. A couple of them were spread out and a little bit more pass-happy, so I was in the slot a lot those years. These last two years, specifically this last year, we ran the ball a lot. We had an offensive change. It was more of a pro style this last year, so this last year I was more at the point of attack a lot. We had the best offensive line in college football, so that helped. So I’ve done a lot of roles throughout my time in college. Ultimately, I’ve just tried to combine all of those to where I can be, what we used to call, a complete tight end."

Who is a comparison for you, player-wise, in the NFL?

"Well, being from Notre Dame and having that film readily available to me from past years, two guys that I watched a lot were … one, actually I told [Dolphins tight ends coach Shane] Day at the Combine, a guy that I watched a lot was Anthony Fasano. Specifically his time at Notre Dame. Obviously I would watch some of his stuff in the pros but at Notre Dame, he was a guy who wasn’t just a big receiver. He was a guy who would grind it out, in-line; but then he could split out. He could run on a deep corner or something like that. So [he was] a guy who could do a little bit of everything. Then another one was Kyle Rudolph, because he’s kind of the same way – a big guy who can play in-line but at the same time can run deep overs and things like that. He doesn’t really have to be a guy who can be taken off the field."

What does it take to be a good in-line tight end?

"First and foremost, it’s the willingness to be in there, to grind it out and be able to compete with these defensive ends at this level that are 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 and freakish athletes off the edge. We have a couple here with the Dolphins. First and foremost, it’s willingness. Then from there, it’s technique. You kind of just build from there — strength and things of that nature. It all starts with a willingness to be able to do it."

Can you talk about your journey to get here a little bit? When you were 5 years old, were you dreaming about playing in the NFL? Is this a culmination for you? Just talk about the steps that led you to where you are today.

"Well, I grew up in a small town in central Texas. Football was everything growing up. My dad played at Baylor. That was 30 minutes down the road, so my weekends went: Fridays everyone goes to high school games, Saturdays we’d all go to the Baylor game and Sundays obviously we’re watching on TV. I kind of grew up around the sport for as long as I can remember. That was always the ultimate goal. I grew up a big Notre Dame fan. First and foremost, it was my goal to go play there, succeed there and then obviously get to this level. It’s something that I grew up around my entire life and something that I’ve always seen myself doing for as long as I possibly can."

What’s one thing about you that would surprise us? Like one story would be you saved a family of cats from a burning building. Something like that.

"I don’t know if I have anything that could live up to that. One thing I use a lot when I’m asked a question like that is I’m a great ping-pong player. I like to tell people that football is the second best sport for me behind ping-pong. I guess that’s something that’s kind of fun."

What was it about Notre Dame that attracted you as a kid considering your dad played at Baylor?

"Both of my parents really, as I grew up, harped on finding a place that had great academics that could go with a good football program. As a kid, I knew that Notre Dame was a great school. Obviously with our NBC deal, they were playing every Saturday. I watched that growing up. I kind of became a little obsessed with the golden helmet, Golden Dome, thing early on. It kind of just carried from there."

Did it take a little while for your parents to accept you’re not going to Baylor and you’re going to Notre Dame?

"I think my dad was easier about that whole thing. He kind of recognized early on that I had aspirations to go to a Notre Dame or something like that, that was far from home. I think it took my mom a little bit more time, a little bit more convincing. I was actually originally committed to Texas, so that was 30 minutes down the road. I ended up changing that and going to Notre Dame and I think it took a little bit of time for her distance-wise. Ultimately, it turned out pretty well."

And you had to sell them on this idea?

"I wouldn’t necessarily call it selling them, because like I said, they – from a young age – really harped on the whole academic/athletic combination. They knew that was one of the best places in the country to do that. It was more of just going 1,000 miles across the country from my mom; but other than that, it was great."

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