The PhinPhanatic staff will recap each Miami Dolphins player from 2016 as we await the start of NFL free agency. Today, we highlight rookie WR Leonte Carroo.
On the second night of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins moved up to select Leonte Carroo in the third round. In exchange for the 86th overall pick, Miami traded their sixth-round pick in 2016, along with their third and fourth round picks in 2017 to the Minnesota Vikings. Despite the overhaul of picks Miami gave up to grab Carroo, it was a relatively quiet season for the rookie wideout.
Carroo finished the season with just three receptions on the year for 29 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came in Week 12 on his lone reception of the day in a win over the San Francisco 49ers. The move to trade up for Carroo puzzled many at the time as the wide receiver position was, arguably, the strongest for the Dolphins going into 2016. Regardless, Miami was high on Carroo from early season workouts, and believed him to be a long-term asset at the position. He may have had trouble getting on the field in 2016, but rest assured they believe in his playmaking ability if they were willing to give up that much.
The primary reason for Carroo having trouble getting on the field is because he was behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills on the depth chart. Stills is now an unrestricted free agent, and even though the Dolphins have expressed interest in retaining him, he will come at a hefty price that Miami may simply not be willing to pay up for. Even though Stills had an outstanding 2016 season, the same cannot be said for his 2015 season with the team when he finished with just 27 receptions and three touchdowns.
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Drafting Carroo gave the Dolphins an early backup plan in case of two possibilities. If Stills had another disappointing season it would have given Miami an easy reason to let him walk. On the contrary, should Stills have a breakout year in which we saw, they have their replacement in place in case his price tag is too large to re-sign him. We’ll see come March, but that very well could be the case.
Even if the Dolphins do re-sign Stills, you can bet we will see a lot more of Carroo in 2017. If they don’t, it’s safe to assume he will take the reigns behind Landry and Parker. A year to develop, and getting a feel at the professional level has been good for Carroo. Dolphins fans got excited over Carroo from what they were hearing out of training camp, and what they saw in the preseason. It may have come as a disappointment to some to not see that carry over into the regular season, but the sky will be the limit soon enough for the former Rutgers standout.