As reported previously, the Miami Dolphins have been working out players who have been cut by other teams, including former Bills wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers. On the list of players who have worked out for the Dolphins, there were a couple of WRs and several linemen but no tight ends.
The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins are content with the current tight end corps and expect young players like Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, and especially Dion Sims to step up in wake of Dustin Keller's season-ending injury. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Dolphins take a close look at tight ends on the waiver wire, especially after cutting tight end Kyle Miller, which has left the team with "only" 4 FB/TEs on the roster (compared to the 5 the team had last year).
In my opinion, the top potential waiver-wire targets of the Dolphins include tight ends Clay Harbor, who was just released by the Eagles, D.J. Williams, who was just released by the Green Bay Packers, Jake Ballard, who was released by the New England Patriots, and Tony Moeaki, who was just released by the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Clay Harbor (6’3", 255 lbs, and ran a 4.62 40-yard dash) was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft after playing college football at Missouri State. Pre-draft, he was considered to be a very athletic H-Back receiving option.
He has 47 career catches for 421 yards (averaging 9.0 yards per catch) and 4 TDs in 39 NFL games.
This pre-season, Harbor earned a positive grade overall from ProFootball Focus (PFF) on 87 snaps total in 4 pre-season games, with solid blocking and receiving, and finished with 4 catches for 64 yards.
In limited regular season snaps, Harbor has received positive grades for his receiving ability and run-blocking but negative grades for his pass blocking.
These stats have to be taken with a grain of salt because he's been a backup for most of his career (just 15 career starts in 3 seasons), so he's still somewhat of an unknown talent.
- D.J. Williams (6'2", 245 lbs, ran a 4.67 40-yard dash) was drafted by the Packers in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft after playing college football at Arkansas. Pre-draft, he viewed as a good H-Back option who would be productive both blocking and receiving.
He has 9 career catches for 70 yards (7.8 yards per catch) and 0 TDs in 26 games.
This pre-season, Williams earned a negative grade from PFF on 85 snaps total with poor run-blocking mostly to blame and finished with 7 catches for 46 yards.
In limited regular season snaps, Williams has received positive grades for both his run and pass blocking but negative grades for his receiving skills. Like with Harbor, these stats have to be taken with a grain of salt because he's been a backup for his whole career (just 2 career starts in 2 seasons), so he's still somewhat of an unknown talent.
- Jake Ballard (6’6", 275 lbs, and ran a 4.84 40-yard dash) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Giants after playing college football at Ohio State. Pre-draft, he was considered to be a traditional blocking tight end with unremarkable athleticism.
He has 38 career catches for 604 yards (averaging 15.9 yards per catch) and 4 TDs in 15 NFL games.
This pre-season, Ballard earned a negative grade overall on 99 snaps total from PFF with poor run blocking mostly to blame in 4 pre-season games and finished with 0 catches.
In his regular season snaps, Ballard has received positive grades for his receiving ability and blocking, but that came in his one healthy season (2011) before his ACL tear that cost him the entire 2012 season due to the need to rehab. Ballard has reportedly looked "stiff and slow" in Patriots training camp and not fully recovered from his injury, which is why a team that will be starting the 2013 season with their top 2 tight ends from last year either injured (Rob Gronkowksi) or in jail (Aaron Hernandez) decided to cut him.
- Tony Moeaki (6'3", 252 lbs, ran a 4.69 40-yard dash) was drafted by the Chiefs in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL draft after playing college football at Iowa. Pre-draft, he was considered to be both a strong blocker and solid receiver whose draft stock was hampered by nagging injuries in college.
He has 80 career catches for 1,009 yards (12.6 yards per catch) and 4 TDs in 30 NFL games.
This pre-season, Moeaki earned a negative grade overall on 76 snaps total from PFF with poor run-blocking mostly to blame and finished with 2 catches for 26 yards in preseason.
In 2010, Moeaki looked like one of the best young tight ends in the NFL, and he received positive grades from PFF as both a receiver and blocker. However, in the 2012 regular season (coming off a torn ACL in 2011), Moeaki received negative grades in 8 out of 15 games, with poor run blocking mostly to blame, but he still finished with 33 catches for 453 yards and 1 TD. However, he fractured his shoulder last week, which continues his history of being slowed by injury dating back to college, so if he is claimed by the Dolphins, it's unlikely he'd contribute until much later this season (if at all). There's no timetable for his recovery yet.
- So those 4 are what I consider to be the Dolphins' most "attractive" options for claims on the waiver wire. While all 4 have flaws, the fact is that they wouldn't have been released by their former team if they didn't have flaws. However, here is the full list of tight ends who have been cut by teams in the past month. I only listed the ones above that I felt had the most potential if claimed, but feel free to vouch for any of the tight ends I list below in the comments:
- Arizona Cardinals - Alex Gottlieb, Richard Quinn, and Mickey Shuler
- Atlanta Falcons - Tim Biere, Colin Cloherty
- Baltimore Ravens - Visanthe Shiancoe, Billy Bajema, Matt Furstenburg, and Alex Silvestro
- Buffalo Bills - Dorin Dickerson and Nick Provo
- Carolina Panthers - Dominique Curry and Zach Pianalto
- Chicago Bears - Fendi Onobun, Leonard Pope, and Gabe Miller
- Cincinnati Bengals - Richard Quinn
- Cleveland Browns - Dan Gronkowski and Travis Tannahill
- Dallas Cowboys - Colin Cochart
- Denver Broncos - Jake O'Connell and Deangelo Peterson
- Detroit Lions - Cameron Morrah and Matt Veldman
- Green Bay Packers - Matthew Mulligan, Jake Stoneburner, and D.J. Williams
- Houston Texans - Jake Byrne and Adam Schiltz
- Indianapolis Colts - Dominique Jones
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Otten and Isaiah Stanback
- Kansas City Chiefs - Demetrius Harris and Tony Moeaki
- Miami Dolphins - Kyle Miller
- Minnesota Vikings - Colin Anderson and Chase Ford
- New England Patriots - Jake Ballard, Evan Landi, and Daniel Fells
- New Orleans Saints - Michael Higgins and Keavon Milton
- New York Giants - Jamie Childers and Chase Clement
- New York Jets - Hayden Smith
- Oakland Raiders - None
- Philadelphia Eagles - Clay Harbor, Derek Carrier, and Will Shaw
- Pittsburgh Steelers - Jamie McCoy, Nathan Overbay, and Peter Tuitupou
- San Diego Chargers - Ben Cotton, David Rolf, and Dallas Walker
- San Francisco 49'ers - MarQueis Gray
- Seattle Seahawks - Darren Fells, Cooper Helfet, Jameson Konz, Andrei Lintz, and Sean McGrath
- St. Louis Rams - Philip Lutzenkirchen, Zach Potter, and Colby Prince
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Danny Noble, Zach Miller, and Mike Shanahan
- Tennessee Titans - Brandon Barden, Jack Doyle, DeMarco Cosby, and Martel Webb
- Washington Redskins - Emmanuel Ogbuehi