For candid perspective on some of the Dolphins’ incumbent players, we solicited input from a coach who was on the Dolphins staff last season but not authorized to speak on the record at this time:
▪ He said running back Kalen Ballage “has such a rare size and speed combination. But my concern is he’s going to be a collision runner because he is not going to make you miss. Guys that make you miss have much greater longevity.”
▪ He said he doubts Mike Gesicki will ever be a clear-cut above-average starting tight end, but has a chance to carve out a role as a No. 2 or co-starter in two tight end sets, similar to the role Aaron Hernandez once had in New England provided his body improves where he can beat press coverage (and he has taken steps in that direction).
“He’s not a dynamic athlete in terms of change of direction in and out cuts, but he can jump,” he said.
“For him, it’s quality over quantity. You might only get 40 touches, but maybe eight will be for touchdowns. There is a role for him. He doesn’t have an NFL body; he wilted in the heat and couldn’t keep weight on. Don’t know if he will be a dynamic point-of-attack guy but can still be effective.”
▪ He said even though the Dolphins signed tight end Dwayne Allen, they shouldn’t give up on Durham Smythe: “He is similar to Anthony Fasano; he will play for 10 years, tough in the running game, becomes an indispensable member of your special teams. The thing with Allen is he helps you install your offense because of his background in that system.”
▪ He’s not sure Jesse Davis is the answer at right tackle, where Miami has used him the past nine days: “Great kid, smart, tough. I think he’s more of a guard because he has some foot quickness liability at tackle. He has to be perfect to be a tackle. He has real value because of position flexibility. He’s probably a fifth lineman, maybe a sixth in a perfect world.”
▪ He said Gase’s offensive nuances at times were too much for wide receiver DeVante Parker to execute consistently, making Gase frustrated. He said Gase “really liked Isaiah Ford because of his intelligence. He’s not overly fast or physical. He’ll flash. He’s almost good enough.”
With Brice Butler, “durability is an issue, but he looks the part. He looks really good in a workout and he’ll make some plays.”
▪ He said defensive tackle Vincent Taylor “can rush the pass rusher, is a good interior pass-rusher. The question is whether his body will be able to handle all the pounding and blocking; he’s not very flexible. I think Davon Godchaux can be a good starter. He’s thick and strong, more consistent than Vincent.”
He said he thought Taylor and Godchaux were better players than Akeem Spence, but former defensive line coach Kris Kocurek was oddly attached to Spence, who played for Kocurek in Detroit. He said he wasn’t impressed with Spence last season, and some internally disagreed with Kocurek’s allegiance to Spence, who’s a professional team-first player.
▪ He said Charles Harris “needs to get stronger, so that if he doesn’t beat you with his initial move, he can beat you with strength. He’s a conscientious guy; if he can get stronger, there’s still potential there.”
He said he believes Harris is more likely to become a solid NFL player as a 3-4 linebacker than a 4-3 end.
▪ He said he believes Jerome Baker has a higher ceiling than Raekwon McMillan, noting “Baker is a three down linebacker. McMillan isn’t. McMillan is strong and tough but can only play zone; you can’t have him covering the Kenyan Drakes of the world. Baker is a new-age linebacker. Undersized but can really run.”
(The new staff seems to agree.)
What about Kiko Alonso? He said he graded out well last year but sometimes followed two good plays with a poor one. “But he’s going to play for a long time” provided he’s healthy.
▪ Among the young defensive backs, he said to keep an eye on Cornell Armstrong: “There’s something intriguing with him because he can run and cover. Jalen Davis can be slot/nickel backup, develop into a Bobby McCain-type maybe. Cordrea Tankersley has the height, weight, speed but has to grow up. Lacking confidence hurt him. When it goes bad, it really went bad. Armstrong has the most upside.”
Tankersley, recovering from last October’s torn ACL, has not been spotted outdoors at all during training camp. And Armstrong and Davis surprisingly have been surpassed by UTEP rookie Nik Needham.
▪ He said he really likes how Jakeem Grant has grown as a receiver and Miami should re-sign him.
He also said he believes center Daniel Kilgore’s play is comparable to Mike Pouncey’s at this point when both are healthy.