Barry Jackson

Analysts with strong views on Dolphins' two fourth-round picks

Feedback on the Dolphins’ two fourth-round picks, Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe and Arizona State running back Kalen Bellage:


Had only 28 career catches for 381 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons but is a skilled run blocker.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: “When you talk about run-blocking tight ends, Durham Smythe focused on that in his career. 6-5, 253. I thought he was was underutilized as a pass receiver. I think he’s actually a better pass receiver than people give him credit for. Will go to the ground to catch it. You can line him up in-line or H-back, and he can block people.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “He averaged 16.3 a catch but only on 15 receptions. He’s not going to be a vertical threat in the NFL. His value lies in his ability to drive defenders off the ball. In 2016, LSU, Texas, that’s what he did. With that size, you have a defined role coming in. He will be an in-line blocker. Very few coming out are, although he did improve as a receiver. His blocking in line as an extension of that offensive line will make him an NFL player.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay of Smythe and Dolphins' second-round pick Mike Gesicki: “They’re opposites. They will complement one other extremely well. Gesicki can’t block to save his life, but he’s a really good receiver.”’s Lance Zierlein: "Smythe is a classic "Y" tight end who carries himself like an offensive lineman. He has the frame, toughness and ability to help do the dirty work as a run blocker for teams in need of toughness at the position. While Smythe can catch what is thrown to him, he's unlikely to be a targeted pass catcher on the next level. Smythe's particular talent as a run blocker should create an opportunity to become a solid starter for years to come."

Strengths, according to Zierlein:

· Has good size and should continue to grow into his frame

· Has a finisher's demeanor as a blocker

· Plays like an offensive lineman

· Technically sound blocker

· Hand placement is accurate and he unlocks his hips into opponent

· Runs his feet on down blocks until the block is secured

· Understands his landmarks and takes proper angles

· Excellent timing and radar when working up to linebacker on combos

· Plus blocker for the position in-line and on the move

· Trustworthy in pass protection

· Was able to work the seam and lay out to make the catch

· Unfazed by hitters in the middle of the field

Weaknesses, according to Zierlein:

· Straight-line mover who struggles to adjust his release when defenders are looking to lean on him

· Initial speed into patterns is average

· Routes are very readable for safeties and linebackers

· Comes out of his turns without much burst

· Separation could be a challenge against man coverage

· Needs to gather his feet into contact more consistently as a blocker

Zierlein quotes an AFC scout saying: “There are only a handful of the old school tight ends who are big and able to help you in the run game and he's one of them."


He ran for 669 yards on 157 carries last season (4.3 per carry) and six touchdowns with 20 catches for 91 yards… But in 2016, he caught 44 passes for 467 yards. He also scored eight touchdowns in a 2016 game vs. Texas Tech. Career rushing average of 4.4 per carry.

Mayock: “This is a big great looking athlete. I call this potential vs. production. Everyone talks about his eight TDs in one game [2016 against Texas Tech]. I don’t really care about that game. That game means nothing to me in the overall evaluation. At end of day, he is 228 pound finesse back. Had a really good Senior Bowl week. A guy named Demario Richard really kind of beat him out for the first and second down role. What you are getting is a ton of upside but you need more consistency. He needs to be more consistently physical.”

Kiper: “He’s the best athlete on the Sun Devil team. Almost 230 pounds, 6-1 ½. You saw glimpses of a power back. But it was inconsistent. He played smaller at time. You like that fire. You get that passion. He shows the capabilities, you get more consistent, you have something.”

McShay: “He’s one of those guys who wake up on third base and thought he hit a triple. He thought he deserved everything and it really didn’t work for him. That’s why he didn’t have the full time starting job at Arizona State. This guy is one of the better pass catching running backs in the draft. He also can run routes really well. He comes in humbled, realizing I have to start working for this.”

NFL Net’s Daniel Jeremiah: “He’s got Tevin Coleman type juice when he gets going, he can fly in the open field.”

He was used as a wildcat quarterback 70 times over the past two seasons, per PFF.... Only averaged 2.7 per contact in his college career, which is “lower than a player of his size and talent should.” .... He broke only 15 tackles on 167 carries last season… .

PFF says he “may be a better receiver than ball carrier.”…. PFF says “he was extremely impressive as receiver during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Teams will need to reconcile [the physical gifts] with relatively pedestrian college production.”’s Zierlein: "His lack of decisiveness and vision make it hard to envision him as a full-time RB1. Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him. Ballage's size and athletic ability will appeal to teams as will his ability to play on third downs and return kicks."

Strengths, according to Zierlein:

· Excellent body composition and frame

· Possesses an athletic build with well-proportioned upper body and lower body that squats over 500 pounds

· Versatile player who has experience as an off-set runner, a pass catcher out of the backfield and a wildcat quarterback

· Has experience returning kicks

· Plays with adequate burst between tackles

· Lowers shoulder and accelerates feet into and through contact to fall forward

· Has secondary power to find a tough yard near end zone

· Clean hands as pass catcher

· Displays ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls

· Can line up in the slot

· Able to slip first tackle attempt after the catch in open field

· Needs to protect with better technique, but his size is effective in taking on blitzer

Weaknesses, according to Zierlein:

· Doesn't have the hips or feet to cut with sharpness after flowing hard to the edge

· Runs too upright to squeeze through tight rush lanes

· Plays with early indecisiveness

· Takes too many skip steps in his approach downhill a2.llowing defense time to fight past blocks

· Field vision is severely lacking

· Allows open run lanes to go unused

· Feet can get confused when faced with unexpected traffic

· Athletic, but not elusive

· Not nearly as hard to tackle as expected

· Play regressed somewhat from 2016

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