Dolphins Draft and UDFA
The 2023 NFL Draft is over. The Miami Dolphins only drafted four players but they were very active in the undrafted free agent (UDFA) market. With limited draft capital, the Dolphins seemed to make wise selections. There are no draft grades here because I feel grading a player before he even hits an NFL practice field is a silly endeavor at times. Might be fun but it is like giving a student a grade before they even take the test. But, feel free to tell me how you think Miami did!
Dolphins Draft Class for 2023
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
(CB/South Carolina) Cam Smith was the player that the Miami Dolphins picked with their first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Dolphins did not have a first-round selection so we had to wait until night 2 to see Miami on the clock. Miami’s first pick came in the second round (Pick #51).
I was doing a live show on the Fins Talk Sports Network when the Dolphins made the selection of Smith. My initial reaction was that of silence not because I did not like Smith as a player but because of the position that he plays. Like most fans, I felt Miami would pick an offensive lineman, a tight end, or even the outside chance of a running back. Yet, the more I think about it I feel like Smith is a good pick with good value at that spot in the draft.
The Dolphins will be facing Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers two times each this year not to mention games against Patrick Maholmes, Lamar Jackson, Russel Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts. Chris Grier (Dolphins/GM) said it well when he said, “You can never have too many cornerbacks.” The Dolphins did have injury issues in the defensive backfield last season so this is a solid move to add a quality player in a highly valued position.
Some people had first-round grades on Smith, I’m happy with the player that Miami drafted.
Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
With their third-round pick (#84) the Miami Dolphins drafted Devon Achane a running back out of Texas A&M. Speed zooms through my mind when I watch Achane play football. Achane might not be the biggest running back but he is among the fastest. He knows how to use his speed on the field as well
I like this pick a lot. Achane seems like a perfect fit for a Mike McDaniel offense. McDaniel should be able to scheme many ways to get the ball into the hands of this speedster that happens to play running back. This draft pick makes a lot of sense for the Miami Dolphins. There are good running backs on the team already but Achane should see his fair of action as a rookie.
Dolphins Draft Pick in the 6th Round: Elijah Higgins, TE/WR, Standford
When the pick was flashed on the screen, I was surprised since it listed Elijah Higgins as WR. But, then he was announced as a tight end so it made more sense. I admittedly did not know much about Higgins prior to the Dolphins making him their 6th-round draft pick. However, this is another move that has grown on me after reading more about him.
Higgins was a good blocker as a WR, he did not shy away from making contact to help in the running game in college. While speaking with the local media after being drafted, Higgins stated he likes to block but has never been asked to do in-line blocking. But, he is ready to learn. He advised that most teams that contacted him prior to the draft viewed him as a tight end.
Miami kept 5 tight ends last season, so Higgins will have a chance to find a spot on the active roster. If not, he is a good candidate for the practice squad if another team does not “poach” him. I believe that Higgins has a lot of upside potential. There might be a learning curb to get over but in time this might prove to be a smart move by the Dolphins.
Ryan Hayes, OT/G, Michigan
In the 7th round, the Miami Dolphins finally drafted an offensive lineman. Ryan Hayes played tackle at Michigan but many people seem to believe the best fit for him is at guard in the NFL. Hayes comes with a lot of experience at a high level of college football.
Hayes manned the left tackle position as a starter for the powerful rushing attack of the Michigan Wolverines. He has played at a high level with a lot of snaps under his belt. His lack of ideal arm length is the main reason that people are projecting him as a guard. Prior to the draft, I saw some well know NFL Draft sites giving a 4th-round value grade to Hayes.
In the 7th round, Hayes seems to be another good value draft pick for the Dolphins. Like many prospects taken in the late rounds, Hayes will need some time to develop. But, if he takes quickly to the move to guard, he gas a legitimate chance to make the team.
The UFDA Signings
These signings are as reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Aubrey Miller, LB, Jackson State
James Blackman, QB, Arkansas State/FSU
Ezekiel Vandenburgh, LB, Illnois State
Julian Hill, TE, Campbell
Alama Uluave, C, San Diego State
Bennett Williams, S, Oregon
Anthony Montalvo, DL, UCF
Jarrett Horst, OL, Michigan State
Chris Brooks, RB, BYU
Daewood Davis, WR, Western Kentucky
Randy Charlton, DL, Mississippi State
Brandon Pili, DL, USC
Ethan Bonner, CB, Stanford
Garrett Nelson, DL, Nebraska
Mitchell Agude, LB, UM
Alex Jensen, OL, SDSU
Chris Coleman, WR, Cal Poly Tech
DJ Scaife, OL, UM
Michael Turk, P, Oklahoma
Keidron Smith, DB, Kentucky/Ole Miss