Which Dolphins undrafted rookies have the best chance to make the team?
By Luke Allen
With training camp underway, the Miami Dolphins are finally able to evaluate the new young talent they've brought in via both the draft and free agency. Not many undrafted free agents actually make a final roster, let alone contribute right away, but there have been many NFL greats who never had their name called on draft night.
Notable undrafted free agents in the past include Wes Welker, Chris Harris, Doug Baldwin, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Jason Peters, Willie Brown, Warren Moon, Dick Lane, Kurt Warner, and Miami's own Hall of Famer, Larry Little. This list of names just goes to show that you don't need to be drafted to be an all-time great.
Who are the undrafted rookies that can realistically make the Dolphins roster this year?
1. OT Jarrett Horst
The first overall pick in the USFL draft, Michigan State's Jarrett Horst signed on with the Dolphins as a training camp body, but has the potential to make the final 53-man roster this fall. The 6'6, 300 lb tackle played five years in college, transferring from Arkansas State to Michigan State in 2021. Horst earned honorable mention All Big-Ten honors in 2021 before starting 7 games at left tackle in 2022. On tape, Horst shows a strong base with powerful hands as a physical blind-side blocker. Horst could carve a role in Miami as a depth piece in a pretty shallow offensive line group.
2. LB Aubrey Miller Jr.
Jackson State linebacker Aubrey Miller is someone I thought could go as high as the fifth round in last month's draft. He does not have the size, measurements and testing that would be ideal for a rookie linebacker, but Miller makes up for it on tape. After going undrafted, Miller signed on as an UDFA with the Dolphins. Miller shows up on tape as a heat-seeking missile against the run. He patiently waits for the handoff, picks his spot and shoots the gap -- fast. Miller plays with a ton of fire and can make a roster this fall if he shows that high motor in training camp.
3. TE Julian Hill
The most depleted and neglected position group on the roster is tight end. Anyone signing on as a tight end has a very fair chance to make a roster spot. Julian Hill, out of Campbell (a private Christian university in North Carolina), signed with Miami as an undrafted free agent last month. The 6'3, 252 lb tight end prospect earned first-team All-Big South honors as a senior in 2022. Hill has experience as an all-conference quarterback in high school before switching to tight end almost seamlessly. Hill plays with tremendous physicality both as an in-line tight end or as a split end, both receiving and blocking. He tested well, but was just attending too small of a school to even be considered a candidate to be drafted.
4. QB James Blackman
The former Florida State Seminole came back home to Florida when he signed his UDFA contract with the Dolphins. Blackman is a South Bay native and may be a fan-favorite in the preseason in hopes of making the final roster. With Skylar Thompson's disappointing showing last season and Mike White set to make $4 million this season, the Dolphins may be looking for a better and cheaper option to back up Tua Tagovailoa in the final season of his rookie deal. Blackman began his career at Florida State as a freshman who was tossed into the fire due to an injury to the starter, but never got his footing as a Seminole. In 2021, the quarterback transferred to Arkansas State, where he had a couple of nice seasons. Hopefully, Blackman will have a chance to showcase his abilities and get a shot at earning a roster spot this fall.
5. P Michael Turk
Fun fact: UDFA rookie punter Michael Turk is the nephew of former Dolphins punter Matt Turk!
We may actually see a fun little punting competition this summer as newly-signed punter Jake Bailey competes for the sole roster spot with rookie Michael Turk out of Oklahoma. Turk, the first-team all-league special teamer in 2022, ranked third in average punt yards with 46.8 gross yards per punt. Turk can punt a ball into orbit, but does not have the precision down just yet to be able to coffin corner a team down inside the five yard line. Turk recorded a punt of 50+ yards in eleven of the thirteen games in 2022 and displayed some impressive hang time. If Miami wants to cut some spending, Turk could certainly take the punting job from Jake Bailey this season.