Without a doubt, one of the needs that this Miami Dolphins team had to fill this offseason was at tight end. Starter Anthony Fasano is coming off of career highs in receptions and yards in 2010. But beyond him, the Dolphins got no production at all from their backup tight ends.
In fact, the rest of Miami's tight ends combined for two receptions and 44 yards. Back in 2008 when the Dolphins had an effective offense, David Martin posted a 31-450-3 stat line. That's what Tony Sparano I'm sure would like to get back to seeing from this team's tight ends.
When the Dolphins drafted Tulsa's Charles Clay in the sixth round last month, though, they got more than a tight end. they got a "jack of all trades" kind of player who should be a mismatch for opposing defenses if offensive coordinator Brian Daboll uses him right.
For more on Clay, I reached out to Eric Bailey of TulsaWorld.com - the best source of new and analysis on Tulsa athletics. Below is what Eric had to say about Miami's sixth round pick:
My favorite memory of Charles Clay came after a University of Tulsa football practice early in his college career. Tulsa’s punter was getting some extra work in and players were taking turns fielding the kicks. It was all in fun.
Then Clay took a turn. He drifted under a sky-high punt and caught the ball … behind his back with two hands.
Bill Blankenship (then an assistant coach and now Tulsa’s head coach) simply smiled and shook his head while walking to the locker room. Clay’s athleticism allowed him to make a play like that. It also made him a versatile weapon in a Tulsa no-huddle offense that was installed by Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn in 2007 and 2008.
Clay’s biggest asset was his ability to go into motion and create mismatches for opponents. He was often too fast for linebackers and too big for defensive backs.
He’s also a quick learner. As a true freshman, he topped the 1,000-yard mark for receiving yards (becoming one of three players to accomplish that for Tulsa in 2007). In 2008, he ran the ball out of the backfield more often. During that second season, Clay not only made an impact on offense. He lined up on defense in certain pass situations and even recorded a sack on UAB quarterback Joe Webb (who started in place of injured Brett Favre for the Minnesota Vikings last year).
His numbers diminished in his junior season after Malzahn left. That didn’t stop him from making plays as the coaching staff even moved him to the Wildcat quarterback spot late in the year.
In 2010, playing for his third offensive coordinator in four years, the ball didn’t come his way as often. The attack spread the ball to many different players. That didn’t stop him from scoring 38 career touchdowns to finish second on Tulsa’s all-time list.
Where does he fit at the next level? It is hard to say. He does have good hands and great athleticism, but doesn’t have breakaway speed. He can block, but can he block well enough for the NFL? One thing is certain: The Dolphins picked up an athletic player that came to work at every practice and every game. His versatility will make him an asset, not only on offense but special teams.
Thanks to Eric Bailey for helping us out.