Some insight into what the Dolphins are getting with their undrafted rookie free agent pickups on offense:
▪ Colorado State receiver Preston Williams:
A former elite recruit out of Georgia, the 6-4 Williams had two nondescript years at Tennessee, then blossomed in his one season at Colorado State last year, producing 96 catches for 1,345 yards (he led the Mountain West in both categories).
Pro Football Focus calls him one of the NFL’s 10 best undrafted free agent signings.
Here was the write-up from PFF’s Austin Gayle after the draft: “Off-field concerns pushed Williams out of this year’s draft, not his on-field talent or production. In his lone season at Colorado State (2018), Williams earned the 10th-best overall grade (84.0) among draft-eligible FBS wide receivers.
“He caught 97-of-166 targets for 1,339 yards, 51 first downs, and 14 touchdowns. He’s a big, athletic wide receiver that can win with just his natural ability but will need to add some polish to his game and keep a clean sheet off the field to reach his sky-high potential in the NFL.”
Here are those off-field issues: According to Coloradoan.com, Williams “was suspended for much of [the 2017] season following arrests for harassment, tampering and domestic violence after an altercation with a former girlfriend. Williams allegedly shoved her multiple times during an argument at an off-campus apartment the two shared, according to Fort Collins police reports. He was arrested again three weeks later by CSU police for violating a restraining order after the first arrest. Williams pleaded guilty to the harassment charge and received a deferred sentence. The other charges were dismissed by Larimer County Court Judge Mary Joan Berenato, according to court records.”
Williams’ coach at Colorado State, Mike Bobo, told The Fort Collins newspaper that situation “was a tough process for him. Basically, he was suspended indefinitely, had no access to the building and had to clean up some things on his own. It was a lot of checklists that he had to go through with us and other people and certain things, and he handled those things like he was supposed to. It was a growing up process for him.”
Bobo said this past season, Williams was always there “to make a big play when you need it.”
Draft analyst Tony Pauline indicated that he needs more convincing about Williams as a prospect.
“He’s a big guy, big target, but has a very unpolished game and didn’t test well,” Pauline said by phone. “Ran 4.6 in his pro day and had the off-field issues. He had huge numbers in spots, but he tape wasn’t impressive to me.”
▪ Stanford receiver Trenton Irwin:
The 6-2 Irwin had 60 catches for 685 yards last season. And per PPF, Irwin caught 78.9 percent of the passes thrown his way last season (60 of 76) — which was good for 10th-best among all receivers in the country — and dropped just one pass.
He also returned 22 punts for 230 yards in his career (a 10.5 average).
“He’s a slot receiver/ return specialist,” Pauline told me. “Good route runner, catches the ball well.”
Here’s the challenge for Williams and Irwin: Miami already has six NFL-proven receivers in Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Ricardo Louis and Brice Butler.
For Williams or Irwin to make the team, either one of them would need to be great the next four months and Butler or Louis would need to be unimpressive. Or one of the top six would need to be injured.
▪ Cal running back Patrick Laird:
He ran for 1,127 yards and 961 yards the past two seasons, with averages of 5.9 and 4.3 yards per carry.
“Solid interior ball carrier, downhill guy,” Pauline said. “Decent sized back. He may make it.”
Read more about him in my Monday feature here.
▪ Temple tight end Chris Myarick:
Not much of a prospect, according to analysts. He wasn’t especially on Pauline’s radar, and the meticulous Pauline evaluates pretty much everyone.
Myarick was a decent blocker who had 23 catches for 229 yards in 21 college games. But he’s highly unlikely to make a Dolphins roster that already has five tight ends (Dwayne Allen, Mike Gesicki, Nick O’Leary, Durham Smythe, Clive Walford).
▪ Mississippi State guard Deion Calhoun:
Like the receiver Williams, PFF also includes Calhoun among its top 10 undrafted NFL free agent signings.
He allowed only three sacks in four seasons (1,135 total pass blocking snaps), with two of those coming last year. That’s pretty impressive.
And while PFF’s Gayle said his “run-blocking grades didn’t wow us during his time at Mississippi State, consistency in pass protection is valuable for a Dolphins team that needs such efforts in the trenches.”
He committed five penalties last season and 11 in his career.
Of the four offensive linemen signed by the Dolphins after the draft, Pauline said Calhoun has the best chance to make the 53-man roster.
“A lot of people thought he was going to be drafted,” Pauline said. “Good size, decent athleticism.”
▪ Boston College tackle Aaron Monteiro:
Per PFF, Monteiro was fifth among all offensive tackles in run-blocking in 2018.
The negative: He allowed 13 sacks in four years, including four last year. He also had 21 penalties in four seasons, including seven last year.
“I like Monteiro,” Pauline said. “He went under the radar. He played left tackle but is more of a right side guy. Practice squad guy.” Among those congratulating him on Twitter after the draft: The mayor of Brockton, Mass., his hometown.
▪ Centers Ryan Anderson (Wake Forest) and Kirk Barron (Purdue):
Anderson allowed only one sack and seven quarterback pressures last season, per PFF, which ranked him eighth among draft-eligible centers in pass blocking and 34th in run blocking success percentage.
In two years as Wake’s starting center, he allowed only one sack.
“Anderson is a try hard guy, decent but not great size,” Pauline said. “Marginal athlete. A smart, tough guy who gets everything from his ability.”
Barron allowed once sack but 19 pressures last season; PFF rated him 19h in run blocking success but 40th in pass blocking efficiency. He allowed eight sacks in four seasons. He’s a long shot to stick.
But with Jake Brendel having moved on to Denver and Travis Swanson and Wesley Johnson no longer employed here, there is an opportunity for a young center to seize a roster spot behind starter Daniel Kilgore.
Former Jaguars guard Chris Reed, signed by the Dolphins in March, also can play center. And third-round pick Michael Deiter has experience at the position. And Connor Hilland, the second year player from William & Mary, remains on the roster as a developmental center.
FYI: The Dolphins also will have multiple offensive players attending their rookie minicamp (beginning May 10) on a tryout basis, including former University of Miami receiver Darrell Langham and cornerback Jhavonte Dean.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Dolphins hadn’t announced any of the undrafted players they’re signing or bringing in on a tryout.
Please check back Wednesday for a look at the Dolphins’ undrafted rookie additions on defense and special teams.
Here’s my Tuesday piece exploring options to replace Dwyane Wade’s bench scoring with the Heat, via free agency and the draft.