The Miami Dolphins have made a habit this season of taking shots on young, former high NFL Draft picks who, for one reason or another, didn’t work out at their first destination. The results have been mixed so far — the Dolphins cut former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche on Tuesday, but Taco Charlton, another former first-round pick, leads Miami with four sacks.
Gary Jennings Jr. doesn’t bring quite the same profile as those two former first-day picks, but the Dolphins’ acquisition of the wide receiver Wednesday stems from a similar thought process.
Just in April, Jennings was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft only to immediately be buried on the Seattle Seahawks’ depth chart. The Seahawks released him Wednesday without the rookie ever playing a game. By the end of the day, the Dolphins had him on the way to South Florida after claiming him off waivers.
“Honestly to me, everything has a reason,” Jennings said after his first practice at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility. “Everything works out in its own way, so I’m just happy to be where I am now.”
Although he was never even active for a game in Seattle, Jennings has long been on Miami’s radar. The Dolphins brought him to Miami for a workout ahead of the 2019 Draft and were impressed with what they saw, even though they didn’t wind up taking him. Once he became available with virtually no risk associated, the Dolphins (1-7) took a flier.
“We brought him in for a 30 visit this spring — we really liked him,” coach Brian Flores said. “We liked him as a player, we liked him as a person, thought he had some speed, some size, some athleticism. He’s a young guy we wanted to work with. Obviously, we weren’t able to draft him — Seattle took him — so when he was available we felt like this would be a young player to bring into the building to try to help.”
There should be greater opportunity for Jennings in Miami. With the Seahawks, he was lost in a deep group of wide receivers, which also included impressive rookie D.K. Metcalf, and made expendable when Seattle picked up former Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon on Monday.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, lost rookie wide receiver Preston Williams to a season-ending knee injury in their 26-18 win against the New York Jets on Sunday. The wideout currently leads Miami in receiving yards, so there’s a massive hole to fill.
Although he never proved himself with the Seahawks, Jennings was a legitimate star for the West Virginia Mountaineers. In his final two seasons in West Virginia, Jennings piled up 151 catches for 2,013 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“I know they were really high on me,” Jennings said, “and that’s why the took a chance on me again.”
Former LSU star Davon Godchaux: Joe Burrow is ‘special’
Davon Godchaux doesn’t exactly try to hide his bias. Everyone in the Dolphins locker room has some sort of pride in their college team, but Godchaux is particularly blustery in his support of his LSU Tigers — and for good reason. LSU is the No. 1 team in the country right now and has the Heisman Trophy frontrunner as its quarterback.
Joe Burrow still isn’t regarded as the top quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft class, though. The honor still belongs to Tua Tagovailoa, the quarterback for the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.
On Saturday, the two best quarterbacks in the country will share a field in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There’s a decent chance Miami’s quarterback of the future will be in action.
“You have two great quarterbacks,” Godchaux said. “You have Joe, you have Tua going against each other this week. The best team will win. That’s all I’m going to say. The best team will win and we shall see Saturday night who’s going to be the best team.”
The defensive tackle said both Heisman hopefuls are “special,” but he, of course, has a particular affinity for Burrow, who has already set the Tigers’ single-season touchdown passes record this year and leads the nation in completion percentage.
“He’s special. ... You threw 30 touchdowns halfway through the season, that’s pretty special to me,” Godchaux said. “A lot of people have the knock about, He hasn’t played under center. He played under center almost all last year, so he showed you something there, but now he’s playing more in shotgun, now he’s doing more with the RPO — just a lot of great things. I kind of compare him to a [Ryan] Fitzpatrick — a guy who’ll go down the field, make a big play for his team, take a big hit and get up. As a defensive lineman, I love things like that.”
Brian Flores explains Cordrea Tankersley decision
Cordrea Tankersley’s comeback from 2018 anterior cruciate ligament surgery will cost him the entire 2019 season.
The Dolphins elected not to activate the cornerback from the physically-unable-to-perform list Wednesday following his 21 allowed day of practice. By opting not to activate Tankersley from the PUP list, the defensive back will have to sit out the entire season.
“We didn’t think he was ready to go,” Flores said. “Obviously coming off of the injury, he’s made a lot of progress, but at the end of the day we just felt like he wasn’t just quite ready. It wasn’t in the best interest of him or his team.”
The Dolphins, on the other hand, are optimistic about center Daniel Kilgore and defensive end Avery Moss returning Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Both were limited participants in practice Thursday in Davie.
Cornerback Ken Webster was the only active player not to practice Thursday as he continues to recover from a knee injury suffered last month against the Washington Redskins. Safety Walt Aikens was upgraded from a limited participant Wednesday to a full participant Thursday.