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Don’t overlook undrafted Dolphins rookies because history is on their side – The Denver Post

When you’re 6ft 7in as a kid, it’s quite common for people to mention or even praise your height, especially in the world of sports.

But for offensive linemen, size isn’t everything. A player’s reach and arm length often determine their skill level due to the demands of the position.

That’s why there are cases where a prospect’s arm’s length penalizes them in the copywriting process. That was likely the case for Kellen Diesch, who was projected by a number of draft analysts as an early third-day draft pick, but ended up as one of 14 undrafted rookies signed by the Miami Dolphins on Friday.

“I kind of knew that in high school,” Diesch said when asked during recruit camp this weekend about his arm length, which measures 32 1/4 inches, which is in the the eighth percentile for offensive tackles. “I would ask my mother to measure my arms. . . I’m 6-foot-7, so that sort of makes up for it.

Or so the Dolphins hope after handing the former Arizona State a $20,000 signing bonus and $140,000 of his guaranteed rookie contract to ensure he chooses the Dolphins over other teams pursuing him as an undrafted free agent.

Diesch played left tackle during rookie camp and admits he’s probably too big to play guard. But he has the necessary athleticism (he ran a 4.89 in the 40-yard dash) and strength (24 reps of 225 in his Pro Day) to succeed in Miami’s wide-area running program. .

“I don’t know what people are looking for in draft rooms,” Diesch said. “I’m 24. I know what’s going on. I’m just excited to be here.

It is dangerous to overlook undrafted players, as history proves that NFL teams routinely fail to evaluate players.

Two undrafted players — pass rusher Cameron Wake and cornerback Brent Grimes — have been the Dolphins’ top roster players, so to assume that all undrafted players will be roster fillers is unfair.

With the Dolphins only having four draft picks last month, the door is wide open for rookies like Diesch, Ole Miss receiver Braylon Sanders, South Carolina tailback ZaQuandre White and linemen offenses Blaise Andries and Ty Clary to earn a spot on Miami’s 53-man roster. .

The Dolphins have a long history of finding and developing undrafted rookies like Davone Bess, AJ Francis, Chris McCain, Neville Hewitt, Robert Wallace, Marlon Moore and Patrick Laird.

Cornerback Trill Williams and offensive lineman Robert Jones made the team last year as undrafted rookies. Miami made a significant financial commitment to Jones, guaranteeing him $100,000 of his $660,000 rookie salary to land the Middle Tennessee State offensive guard.

He ended up starting the season finale, but is considered a development project.

Williams, who Miami poached on the waiver wire after the Saints cut him before training camp, impressed Miami coaches with his size, athleticism and physique. The former Syracuse standout played four defensive snaps in one game last year.

History says one of those undrafted rookies will make the Dolphins 53-man roster, as it has been every season since 2008, when Bess, an undrafted receiver from Hawaii, was a member of the Tony Sparano’s team.

Bess started six games as a rookie and was Miami Slots wide receiver for five seasons, catching 321 passes for 3,447 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns during his tenure with the Dolphins.

Nik Needham and Preston Williams, two undrafted players who made the team as undrafted rookies in 2019, had better rookie seasons than Miami’s draft picks that year.

Needham did not make Miami’s initial roster of 53 players. He began his tenure with the Dolphins on the practice squad and was called up a month into the season, then started 22 of the 45 games he’s played in the past three years.

The Dolphins recently chose Needham’s option as a restricted free agent, agreeing to play him for $3.98 million this season.

Needham’s success as an undrafted player will no doubt motivate the Dolphins’ undrafted players.

“To be in those colors, to be in that locker room after growing up on the streets, I’m blessed with that,” said linebacker Deandre Johnson, a Miami Southridge product who transferred to the University of Miami last season. “It’s an opportunity I’m grateful for and something I’m striving to achieve.”


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