Neville Hewitt was a nice surprise for the Miami Dolphins in 2015 when given the opportunity. The 2014 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year will look to build off that in 2016.
Linebacker: Neville Hewitt
Neville Hewitt was expected to be a late round draft pick in 2015 after a notable collegiate career that saw him win Conference USA’s DPOY honors in 2014 and impress at Marshall’s Pro Day. He was not invited to the NFL Combine, however, and eventually went undrafted. Teams like the Patriots and Jets were interested in signing Hewitt as an undrafted rookie, but it was the Dolphins who he would eventually sign with.
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Hewitt was initially bummed about not being drafted after projecting to go as high as the third round, but he made the best of his opportunity with Miami. The Dolphins brought in a sling of undrafted rookie linebackers in 2015 after electing not to draft one, including teammates Zach Vigil and Mike Hull. Hull had been the expected ‘sleeper’ to emerge for Miami in the preseason but it was Hewitt and Vigil that impressed the Dolphins coaching staff the most. Hewitt made the final 53-man roster, along with Vigil, while Hull was released from the team. Hull was re-signed by Miami two months later when injuries mounted.
Hewitt and Vigil were the only undrafted rookies for Miami that saw the field in all 16 regular season games. The majority of that was on special teams, as is usually the case, but Hewitt started the Dolphins final two regular season games because of an injury to Jelani Jenkins. Like the majority of the Dolphins linebackers in 2015, Hewitt didn’t fair too well in the run game. However, he was highly impressive in pass coverage.
Hewitt locked down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in week 17, and the Dolphins held the Patriots to just 10 points in a victory. As a fantasy player, who played against Gronk that week in my league’s fantasy championship, I personally applaud Hewitt’s effort and thank him for his help. Hewitt finished his rookie season with 39 tackles and an interception.
39 tackles, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections
It’s expected that Hewitt will continue his duties on special teams. Both him and Vigil were bright spots on what was a surprisingly good Dolphins special team in 2015 and there’s no reason to change that. Hewitt can expect to hear his name called more on the defensive side of the ball in 2016 as well.
The Dolphins, again, did not draft a linebacker in 2016, choosing to sign a few undrafted rookies instead. Just his second season in, Hewitt is now viewed as a veteran on a young linebacker corps. Hewitt will likely backup Jenkins on the depth chart again and his roster spot is not considered to be in jeopardy. Still, Hewitt will need to improve parts of his game and learn new defensive schemes now that new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is calling the shots.
As mentioned, Hewitt was highly impressive in pass coverage but he was just as unimpressive trying to stop the run. Hewitt has a high football IQ so, hopefully, he can improve in this area and he’ll likely benefit from Joseph’s defense. If he can greatly improve his run defense and maintain his pass coverage skills, I’m sure we will see a lot more of Neville Hewitt in 2016.
Miami Dolphins (2015-present) – Undrafted