First impressions mean everything in the NFL. This may encompass sheer talent that's uncoachable, raw talent but elite athleticism, character and work ethic. To make it in the NFL, players need at least any two of these traits.
Of course, these traits are easier to find the higher the draft pick. First round draft picks should display more of these traits than sixth and seventh round picks. It is in these later rounds where the general managers trust their scouts to find that acorn.
The good news for the Dolphins is that over the past few years, acorns have indeed fallen off the tree. Cameron Wake, while making his way to the NFL via Canada, is one example. More recent examples include wide receiver Rischard Matthews and Jimmy Wilson as late round draft picks, and Derrick Shelby, Sam Brenner and A.J. Francis as undrafted players who, against all odds, made the 53-man roster.
For the moment, lets focus on those late round draft picks. After day one of the OTA, two players stand out.
DE Terrence Fede, Marist
In a crowded defensive line, Terrence Fede faces a mammoth task to try and force his way onto the final roster. But from a physical standpoint, Fede has everything. From Tuesday's training, the young defensive end stood at least two inches taller than Derrick Shelby, and just looked the part. At 6-4 and 267 pounds, Fede displayed his athleticism by running a 4.76 in the 40-yard dash and lifted the 225-pound bench press 25 times.
Of course, none of these stats means anything without production. Once again, Fede also displays these with a school-record 13 sacks last season and a career-record 30.5 career sacks. The only hitch? Fede played in a small school. Despite this, he will be one to watch early in training camp.
WR Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina
Like Terrence Fede, Matt Hazel is also a small school prospect. But that's where the comparisons end. Hazel doesn't display the elite athleticism that his new teammate possesses. The wide receiver has a lean body, short arms and small hands.
Nevertheless, don't let his physical tools fool you. Hazel is savvy. He's a great route runner, accelerates off the line to create separation, can block and has very good hands. One of the highlights from Tuesday's practices was a great diving catch from Hazel on a pass from Pat Devlin. This player will make the final team.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AlexParish89.