I played college basketball, and the only reason I could play collegiately is because I was a “gym rat” - I’m horribly and painfully average in every physical measurable. When I was a kid, I’d sneak into the local college and play when no one was around. (I came from a small town that didn’t have many options for indoor basketball.)
Gym rats have a way of thriving. Not the most endearing term, but there’s a reason they survive the apocalypse. He’s a “football guy”, and we know the Miami Dolphins love those kinds of guys.
Long story short, I’m not ever going to count Mike Hull out. He didn’t have many snaps, and he’s most notable for his special teams contributions. Forgive me for paraphrasing, but I can distinctly remember a Dolphins defensive coach “holding a candle” hoping that Mike Hull would fall into our UDFA grasp.
Mike Hull, 6’0”, 233
The work ethic is well-documented. Does he have the athleticism to survive in the NFL? Let’s take a look at the tape.
Game Tape - #45
He’s a little flat-footed initially while diagnosing the play, but shows that he can cover some space and admirable speed after he accelerates (takes him a little bit to get to high gear). Keep in mind, that’s a WR jet sweep, this isn’t typical RB speed. Makes the lunging tackle.
I like his instincts on this play. He’s able to throw the TE off a little bit by jabbing inside and then quickly gets back outside. The TE realizes he isn’t in position to get the block, and of course, Mike Hull makes the tackle.
Shows “alley” integrity here. You get a little nervous when you watch this play at first that he’s going to over-pursue, but he stops on a dime, finds a crease, and stops David Johnson on his cutback attempt. Big 10 LB’s are more used to navigating traffic than other conferences that focus more on the spread, and that certainly helps in the NFL (Hi, Raekwon McMillan).
Why He Might Succeed
After Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons, and Raekwon McMillan, the waters get murky in the LB group. Whether it’s injury (Misi) or inexperience (everyone else), there’s question marks and opportunities abound.
The gym rat thing is in writing.
He also appears to have the trust of one of the “higher up” Special Teams coaches in the NFL in Darren Rizzi. When you have ST as your floor, you have more roster security to show what your ceiling is as a LB.
Why He Might Not
By the same token, if you’re seen as a “ST only” type of guy, your reps might get hijacked to take glimpses at other prospects. Again, the competition will be thick this year. Where’s his niche? I don’t see it in pass coverage. Is he a 2-down guy? Is his ceiling ST with spot duty - and is that even enough?
These are questions better answered by the Miami Dolphins coaching staff.
Odds of Making Roster
65%. The odds change depending on how many LB’s the Dolphins keep, but I see Mike Hull as a fairly safe bet to make the roster. He’s safer than others because he’s top 5 in the NFL in ST tackles and has carved a niche in this regard (with experience starting at LB in the NFL to boot); he’s still unsafe, in that, if another young buck shows ST prowess and solid reps at LB in Training Camp, you can’t put it passed this coaching staff to make a tough judgment call.
The LB group is one of the hardest to predict, in my opinion.
Side note: Happy Birthday to my oldest son - he turns 4 today!