The Dolphins have had one of the more intriguing offseason of 2018. From the return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the acquisitions of receivers Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola, guard Josh Sitton, running back Kenyan Drake playing his first full season as a starter and the drafting of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, this is a more talented all around team than the 2017 incarnation.
One young player that has the ingredients to become a star at his position is second round draft pick Mike Gesicki. At Penn State, Gesicki caught 129 passes—a school record for tight ends—for 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s 6’6 and 245 lb., giving him a massive frame to work with. And where similar prospects fail because of a lack of consistency at the catch point, Gesicki was a monster pass catcher at college.
He should have little trouble translating his game to the professional level.
Gesicki and fellow rookie Dallas Geodert were my two favorite tight ends of this draft class because of their ball skills. Similar to guys like Jordan Reed, David Njoku, and Hunter Henry, Gesicki possesses outrageous hands for a tight end.
Here, quarterback Trace McSorley fires to a wide open Gesicki on the run. The pass is wide, but it allows the tight end to show off his catch radius. He crouches down slightly, extends his right arm, snags the ball, and uses his left hand to pull it in for a spectacular touchdown grab.
Whenever a new tight end breaks out, you’ll often hear from commentators (most likely Cris Collinsworth) on how they have a basketball background because of their ability to box out defenders like a center would inside the paint. Gesicki defies those cliched boundaries by not only having a basketball background, but a volleyball background as well.
With these two backgrounds, Gesicki is able to both box out defenders and high point the ball with a spectacular vertical leap.
This play is spectacular. To start, Penn State runs a switch concept (You can’t really tell though because the outside receiver trips as he tries to break inside), with Gesicki breaking outside. The tight end uses a three-step jab to position himself outside, then uses a “swimming” technique to move his hand above and away from the defensive back’s counter hand, allowing him to get outside leverage.
The quarterback lofts this pass up in the air for Gesicki to go and get. Gesicki’s ability to control his body in the air is special and allows him to float and locate the sidelines. Here, he manages to get one foot in on a tight catch. Now obviously the NFL rule is you must get two feet in bounds, so Gesicki will need to work on that, but he’s an outstanding possession receiver that has little trouble creating leverage against man coverage.
Finally, Gesicki is a freakish athlete. While I think Dallas Goedert has the slight edge in athletic ability, Gesicki is certainly no slouch in this department.
How a 6’6, 245 lb. grown man (implying that there are kids just like this) is able to hurdle defenders like Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliot is crazy. You’d expect guys with Gesicki’s size to be statues that get little yards after the catch (think Jason Witten at the tail end of his career), but this tight end has both style and athletic ability.
To conclude, Mike Gesicki has the potential to become something special. He’s a great route runner, has excellent body control and timing in the air, possesses great ball security, is a trustworthy option on contested catches, and has outrageous ball skills to boot. Tight ends generally take a long time to develop in the NFL, so who knows what Gesicki’s level of impact will be in his rookie season.
But if it’s of any indication, the Dolphins have a potential stud at tight end with a high ceiling.