The Miami Dolphins used their first three picks in the 2016 NFL Draft on three positions of need, selecting offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil in the first round, followed by cornerback Xavien Howard in the second round, and running back Kenyan Drake in the third round. As things on Day 2 of the Draft seemed to be winding down, the Dolphins had a trick up their sleeve, still, trading back into the third round to select South Carolina wide receiver Leonte Carroo with the 86th overall pick.
The Dolphins had specifically targeted the Rutgers receiver, and they went up and got him. Why was Carroo so important for Miami? On the Banks, SB Nation's Rutgers blog, gives us a little better understanding of what Miami is getting in their new wide out.
On the Banks editor and author Jim Hoffman took a look at Carroo prior to the draft, breaking down his strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: Just under 30 TD catches in three seasons, reliable hands, able to fight the defender for the ball, demonstrated ability as a run blocker, close to 25% of his catches went for more than 25 yards.
Drawbacks: Carroo has more trouble in man coverage, not as strong in breaking routes as in straight routes. Does not have overwhelming speed, and can be shut down by an elite corner. Dual suspensions this season (breaking curfew and domestic squabble) hurt him in the character area, which almost seems unfair, as he has been a great leader for the school.
Overview: If a pro team that understands how Rutgers operated their system and followed his entire career and is willing to help him gain crispness in running routes, they will get someone who will eventually be a starting WR in the NFL. He also will demonstrate the class for which he was known for most of his career at Rutgers.
Site manager Aaron Breitman, after the Dolphins selected Carroo, wrote about the wide out:
His physicality, both as an effective run blocker and his ability to catch the ball in traffic, are skills that will help him succeed at the next level. Carroo is also known for having great hands, as he rarely dropped balls thrown his way, and always seemed to come up with the clutch catch while playing on the banks. He also has a penchant for big plays, as he averaged 19.5 yards per catch for his career, including his senior season with a career high of 20.7 yards per catch.
He had a rocky senior season that saw him miss four plus games, which included two suspensions for off field incidents, as well as due to injuries. Despite those factors, Carroo still averaged 4.9 catches for 101 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game. He had five games in his career with three touchdown catches and had the second most games with 100+ receiving yards all-time at Rutgers.
The Dolphins traded up for Carroo, knowing there were other teams, with the New England Patriots as the most likely landing place, that were targeting the Rutgers receiver. Carroo provides Miami with a good fourth option on the roster, with an outside chance to surpass Kenny Stills as the third option behind Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. What he does even more than that is give Miami a possible replacement for Stills, who becomes a free agent after the 2016 season. Given that it can take a receiver some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL, picking up a rookie this year to play down on the depth chart before becoming a key contributor the next season could be a good move for the Dolphins.
Carroo could follow the same script that Landry used in 2014, being drafted in the second round despite the team already having set receivers in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Landry put in his work, showed that he was worth the pick and needed more playing time, and ultimately set the team single season receptions record for a rookie. He followed that up with setting the team single season reception record outright last year. Carroo, who probably becomes a key possession receiver for Miami, could look to establish himself early in training camp as a player who, despite the established receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, deserves playing time and targets.
Or, Carroo could have a quiet rookie campaign, taking time to develop behind those three established receivers before looking for more playing time next season. In a sense, he could be the exact replacement for Rishard Matthews, who began his NFL career as a seventh round pick in 2012, working his way up over the next three seasons before becoming a starter and the second leading receiver (behind Landry) for Miami last year. He signed a free agent contract this offseaosn with the Tennessee Titans, based on his dedication and work ethic, allowing him to develop into a quality NFL receiver.
Either way, the Dolphins may have picked up a good receiver to add to the depth chart.