Despite apparent need, the Miami Dolphins were smart not to reach for TE

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta is pulled down by a Kentucky defender during the fourth quarter of the
Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta is pulled down by a Kentucky defender during the fourth quarter of the / George Walker IV / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Miami Dolphins failed to draft a tight end in round two and then failed to add one in round three. While it may have seemed like a blunder, the Dolphins were smart to avoid reaching on a player.

In round one of the 2023 NFL Draft, only one tight end, Dalton Kincaid, was drafted. This year's draft was considered one of the deepest for TEs in more than a decade. Then, round two started and all hell broke loose.

Without the ammunition to move up in the draft, without a first round selection because of a tampering penalty, the Dolphins had little choice but stay put and let the draft play out.

Three picks into the draft the Detroit Lions selected Sam LaPorta and one selection later the Raiders took Michael Mayer. The Dolphins had to wait it out and Green Bay took Luke Schoonmaker a few picks before the Dolphins were on the clock.

Miami opted to not reach on Darnell Washington whose knee concers dropped him late into round three. They opted to not take a shot at Tucker Kraft who is more of a pass-catching TE who went in round three as well. By the time Miami was on the clock at 84, they took a player they believed would make a more immediate impact.

Fans, including myself, expected that the Dolphins would go tight end but after the irritation of not taking one subsides, we realize that in Mike McDaniels offense, it really doesn't matter because what they need is a blocking TE more than a pass catching one. With Tyreek Hill and Jaylen waddle on the field, there isn't enough balls for a top TE.

That doesn't mean Miami doesn't need one.

In round six, the Dolphins took a different route. They drafted a big-body WR who they believe will transition to TE.

Elijah Higgins as the athletic ability to be a TE/H-back hybrid. Think of a Charles Clay type with similar metrics and upside. Unlike Clay, Higgins is more of a WR than a RB whereas Clay was more RB/FB than a WR.

The Dolphins took an unusual approach but given the board and the fact that TE is a hard position to learn, Miami's attempt to find a universal plug-and-play situational TE/WR is a smarter route to go late in the draft.

There is value in Higgins for sure and if the Dolphins can successfully convert him they may find a gem despite missing out on the purer TEs early in the draft where reaching for a player who is purely a TE doesn't offer much should they fail.