This post is part of a series of posts that will break down and evaluate the Miami Dolphins position by position. If you haven't read up on how players are being classified (the number and letter that follow each player's name), you can read this post explaining the evaluation system. You can also read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.
Perhaps it fitting that I nearly forgot to include the tight end position in our "state of the roster" series. After all, it seemed like the Dolphins forgot all about the tight end position last offseason, failing to address what was a pretty obvious need. They didn't need to spend a high pick or sign a high priced free agent. But they probably should have brought in a guy who could be a legitimate second tight end.
Instead, the Dolphins got just two receptions out of their tight ends not named Anthony Fasano. That is obviously unacceptable.
Now for some grading...
Anthony Fasano (2-B). Fasano is coming off of a season in which he set career highs in receptions (39) and receiving yards (528) despite being asked to stay in and pass protect more than starting tight ends typically do. While Fasano isn't great at any one thing, he's an all-around solid starting tight end. He can makes plays over the middle. He can block. He's tough. He just needs that ideal seam-stretching complement.
Jeron Mastrud (4-F). As an undrafted free agent, Mastrud saw action in eight games last year after being signed to Miami's practice squad in September. He is the all-time leading receiving tight end in Kansas State's history, so he clearly has pass-catching ability. But we didn't ever see it during his year in Miami.
Mickey Shuler (4-F). A 7th round pick of the Vikings, Shuler was claimed off of waivers in late September. He spent 14 weeks in Miami, seeing action in five games and making the only two receptions that Fasani's backups accounted for in 2010. But is there much upside for this former Penn State tight end who was primarily a blocker in college?
Dedrick Epps (4-F). The former Miami Hurricane tight end was a 7th round pick of the Chargers last year. The Dolphins claimed him in December and he saw limited action in three games late in the season. Though I like his all-around skill set better than the other two undrafted rookies, I don't know if he's anything more than a third string tight end in this league.
Contract situations: Fasano was given an extension in 2010 that will keep him under contract through 2012.
Outlook: The Dolphins missed the boat by not taking one of the many talented tight ends available in the mid rounds a year ago. Guys like Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham, and Tony Moeaki were available as late as the third and fourth rounds. Now they must address the position this offseason. Unfortunately the draft class at the tight end position is not nearly as deep. There could be some options available in free agency, though. Of course, we don't eve know if/when free agency will begin in 2011.