The offseason training program for franchises around the NFL is primarily a way for teams to do some major conditioning work with their players, as well as to begin installing any new parts of the offensive or defensive schemes they want to add for the next season. It is also a chance to simply get the players back on the practice field, as well as introduce the new rookies, drafted and undrafted, to the team, and introduce NFL level competition and workloads to the rookies. Every year, during these practices, and into training camp, one player seems to jump out as a possible surprise addition to the final 53-man roster.
In 2017, that player appears to be wide receiver Drew Morgan.
An undrafted free agent out of Arkansas, the six-foot, 190 pound Morgan was continually noted as an impressive performer when the media was allowed to view organized team activities or minicamp. Morgan seemed to be able to get open easily (remember, “7-Eleven” Chris Hogan?), and seemed to catch every ball that was targeted to him.
“I think he’s put himself in a good position to compete and that’s all really you can ask for,” head coach Adam Gase said last month when asked about Morgan. When you have an undrafted rookie who came in here with … Nobody even probably knew who he really was coming in here, and he’s put himself on the map and competed.”
Gase continued, explaining when Morgan needs to do during training camp and the preseason if he wants to make the roster, “Some improvement and just keep getting better. I think he has a really good sense of how to play the position we’re asking him to play and it gives him a great opportunity because when we hit the preseason games, now it’s going to be about making plays when we get in real games. When you start getting looks that you haven’t seen before because you start playing different schemes, different players, different style players, what’s his production going to be like? What’s his execution going to be like? What’s he actually going to show when we get to games in the preseason.”
Quarterback Matt Moore weighed in on Morgan as well, telling the media, “Drew, he’s your typical inside guy. I think he’s got a lot to learn; but I think he understands leverage, which I think if you have that in this league you can do a lot, and he does that. He uses his body well. He seemed to pick up the offense pretty well.”
Morgan is also working on special teams, both as a returner and in coverage. Dolphins associate head coach and special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi explained how the team is looking at the rookie when it comes to special teams work, saying, “We’re really working Drew at a bunch of different spots right now. He’s working a little personal protector on the punt team, working a little bit of gunner. Really what we’re doing with all of the rookies right now is finding out what their skill set is and what their positions are. (We are) working a lot of techniques stuff right now, a lot of fundamentals, trying to get a lot of those guys caught up on things that they haven’t done before. A lot of these rookies have never done what we’re doing before. But he’s a guy that can definitely … It looks like he’s fairly comfortable back there, more than most. We’ll see moving forward how he does as well.”
The hardest part of Morgan’s quest to make the roster may simply be the number of players ahead of him on the depth chart. Two-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry headlines the group, with DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills joining him as the starters, while Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo appear to be set to make the roster as the primary reserves. Joining Morgan as players hoping to make the roster are second-year receivers Rashawn Scott and Mitch Mathews, 2017 seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford, and undrafted free agents Damore’ea Stringfellow, Malcolm Lewis, and Francis Owusu. It is a crowded position group with likely one open roster spot.
Morgan appears to have at least done enough to be noticed early in the preparation for the 2017 season. Will it continue through the summer? Will he be able to claim the sixth receiver position on the depth chart?
Do you think Drew Morgan makes the Miami Dolphins’ 53-man roster?
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