Countdown To Training Camp: TE's

The Miami Dolphins have two TE’s that will be free agents after this next season.  David Martin and Anthony Fasano.  They prepared for the departure of one of those guys when they drafted John Nalbone on day 2 of the draft.  Suddenly the Phins have more than enough TE’s (5) on their roster.  In this first look at the players and positions that the Phins have rostered, our countdown to training camp begins with the TE’s.

So the question is who will have a job when the season starts and who will be gone?  A poll follows this article for you to input your thoughts.

Anthony Fasano: The Dolphins stole Fasano from the Cowboys last year on the eve of the NFL Draft.  A 4th round pick that also brought LB Akin Ayodele.  Fasano didn’t disappoint and was on the receiving end of the Dolphins 1st TD to start the regular season.  Fasano is built in the mold of Dallas Clark and learned from Cowboys TE Jason Witten.

Fasano has the tools to become a pro-bowl player in the NFL and the Dolphins know that.  Despite the fact that his contract is up after this season, Fasano is likely going to be an integral part of the offense as they switch to more utilization of the Wildcat.  Fasano is a good run support blocker but there is plenty of room to improve.  His pass catching skills are solid but there are times that he needs to maintain his focus.  When he has the ball in his hands though, it’s like a mack truck.

The only way Anthony Fasano is not on the Dolphins is if someone steps up and offers Miami something special in a trade…something very special.  The future of the Dolphins TE position is Fasano’s to lose.

David Martin:  Cam Cameron couldn’t do much right in his one and only coaching season.  Bringing David Martin in from Green Bay was not met with a parade of accolades either.  Martin was supposed to be molded in the form of Antonio Gates who Cameron coached in SD, instead he suffered through dropped balls and poor run blocking as the rest of the Phins failed in that season.

Last year, Martin became something more under the tutelage of Tony Sparano.  His pass catching skills became evident and his presence on the field was felt as he helped the Dolphins reach the playoffs.  In run blocking he still missed too many opportunities and that is a cause for concern on a team that is rebuilding and trying to reshape the offense.  Martin is scheduled to be a free agent as well after the 2009 season and it’s likely that he will be given an opportunity to test the market.

The Phins may try and trade him prior to the start of the season but it’s unlikely that many teams would trade a coveted draft pick for him.  The best the Phins could hope for would be a 6th rounder.  Martin has the size and athleticism to be a solid TE in the NFL but he is far too inconsistent to re-sign to a new contract.

Martins future is a big “?” mark.  He could be trade before the trade deadline or season.  He could play the entire season and hit the free agent market.  Poor showings by the youngsters or a bad season by Fasano and maybe the Phins re-sign him.  Or, he simply could be a cut casualty.  In my opinion, the Dolphins try and trade Martin prior to the final cuts of the season and if the injury bug hits another team at that spot that’s where he may go.  Otherwise, I think Martin’s future will be on the free agent market…this year.

Joey Haynos:  Haynos is a big, big TE.  Standing 6’8″ and over 270 pounds, Haynos is the big target that the Dolphins want in the end-zone.  The problem is that he has little consistency on his side.  Over the course of the last 3 weeks, Haynos has fell victim to cases of the “dropsies” something, that doesn’t sit well with HC Tony Sparano.  Haynos isn’t much of a run blocker but he should be able to improve his footwork under Sparano and staff.

Haynos has a tremendous amount of upside if he can just get more consistent with his route running and run blocking.  Still, there is a place for him on the roster.  Absent a big tall WR who can get separation in the end-zone, Haynos should be able to find his niche’, but if he begins to start dropping passes, he will be gone very quick.

Haynos’ future is simple.  The Dolphins really like what they see in him which gives him some leeway despite the inconsistency.  Haynos wrapped up the OTA’s on a series of high notes and recovered from the first week that was unimpressive.  Haynos has no trade value, or very little if anything so don’t look for a trade, he very well could become the number 2 TE opposite Fasano and man for man against David Martin, Haynos has about the same skill set and only lacks the experience…something easily fixed.  Haynos should enter the season as the number 2 or number 3 TE.  IF Haynos can beat out Martin, Martin will be gone…but Haynos also has to hold off two youngsters in the wings.

John Nalbone:  The 5th round pick from little known college Monmouth is a TE that doesn’t quit.  An overachiever who like Haynos was drawing the ire of HC Tony Sparano the first week of OTA’s with drop after drop.  Then, he settled down and again like Haynos began to show flashes of his ability.  Nalbone doesn’t know how to quit.  He just keeps going.  He reminds me a bit of Zach Thomas.  He shouldn’t be able to play but has the desire and drive to make it happen.  While he never will likely be a Zach Thomas type player the obvious is that he will give it everything he has to make the team.

Nalbone is likely to compete for a 53 man roster spot.  He is expected to I should say.  If Martin is gone, then Nalbone should be a shoe-in for the 3rd TE spot on the team.  A likely final spot at that as the Phins will likely on carry 3 true TE’s.  Nalbone is very good with making yards after the catch and he runs good routes, the question is of course how will adapt to the speed of the NFL.

Nalbone’s future with the team is, like Haynos, a question mark at this point.  Being a 5th round pick secures nothing with this regime.  They like Nalbone but that alone will not guarantee him a roster spot.  Martin could be the key here as well.  If Martin stays, Nalbone will battle with Haynos for the 53 man roster, if he can’t win that job, he could end up on the practice squad.  If Martin is gone, or Haynos, Nalbone should have no problem making the roster unless he can’t hold off the other rookie on the team.  At 6’4″ and just over 250, Nalbone is the same size as Jarred Bronsons, n.

Jarred Bronson:  Identical in size with John Nalbone, Bronson went undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Phins shortly after the draft concluded.  The project out of Central Washington has a long way to go before he sees the field in a regular season game, but he has the potential to make an impact in training camp…likely running with the scout team.  He finished his collegiate career with 63 catches for just under 1,000 yards.

Bronsons’ future has practice squad written on it.  If the Dolphins are forced to try and hide John Nalbone on that squad then Bronson likely will be looking elsewhere for work.  He will be competing almost directly with Nalbone for a position on the team but Nalbone is likely to earn the nod.  My prediction is a practice squad position.

While the TE’s are complete, the question is where does someone like Ernest Wilford fit into this equation?  Wilford has been working almost exclusively as a TE/H-Back combination during the OTA’s.  Will his move from the outside in have an impact on who the Dolphins keep on the roster as a true TE?  Could the make-up of the position be influenced as much as to allow the Phins to move Nalbone to the practice squad and keep only Fasano and Haynos on the active roster?  Will he effect the outcome of the position at all? You decide.

My predictions: Anthony Fasano will be the number 1 TE.  David Martin will be released or traded.  Joey Haynos will be the number 2 TE.  John Nalbone will make the final 53 but will be inactive through-out the season.  Jarred Bronson will initially make the practice squad but will be released to make room for another FA pick-up.  Wilford or another H-Back will have an influence on the TE spot.

Who will “not” make the roster?

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Tags: Anthony Fasano David Martin Ernest Wilford Jarred Bronson Joey Haynos John Nalbone Miami Dolphins NFL Training Camps

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