The Miami Dolphins signed just under 450 undrafted free agents this offseason - or at least it felt like it. In a year where the Dolphins are clearly rebuilding the foundation of the franchise and looking to get younger, the addition of UDFAs could be a key part of that build. But, will any of them make enough of an impact this summer to stay on the 53-man regular-season roster?
Officially, the Dolphins signed 18 players as undrafted free agents. After an injury to safety Rob Rolle, the 17 UDFAs remaining are:
Ryan Anderson, C, Wake Forest
Shaq Calhoun, G, Mississippi State
Wesley Farnsworth, LS, Nevada
Terrill Hanks, LB, New Mexico State
Montre Hartage, DB, Northwestern
Dewayne Hendrix, DE, Pittsburgh
Tyler Horton, CB, Boise State
Trenton Irwin, WR, Stanford
Patrick Laird, RB, California
Jonathan Ledbetter, DE, Georgia
Aaron Monterio, OT, Boston College
Chris Myarick, TE, Temple
Nik Needham, CB, UTEP
Cory Thomas, DT, Mississippi State
Tre’ Watson, LB, Maryland
Preston Williams, WR, Colorado Sate
Stone Wilson, P, FIU
The Dolphins also signed some rookies who are not technically “undrafted free agents” because they were signed by another team prior to the Dolphins, but still fit the mold of a UDFA trying to make the roster. These players all signed with another team but did not make it through the preseason and onto the roster or practice squad with any club.
And the team also has a player from the International Player Pathway Program, defensive tackle Durval Queiroz Neto. Queiroz joins the NFL and Miami after four seasons playing in Brazil’s top American football leagues. If he does not make the 53-man roster, Miami can keep him on the practice squad as a designated 11th member of that group, though they cannot activate him during the year from that position.
That is a group of 21 players out of a roster of 90 trying to prove they are worthy of sticking around with the team. That is a group of 21 players trying to prove they deserve one of the 53 spots available on the regular season roster. That is a group of 21 players trying to make an impact.
Who could force the Dolphins into finding a roster spot for them?
Preston Williams is the front runner of the group. The 6-foot-5, 218 pound receiver is the biggest member of the team’s receiving corp, nearly as tall as Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe, though not as heavy as the two second-year tight ends. During the team’s offseason training program, he stood out with several flashes of his potential, making him someone to watch as pads come on this summer and the hitting starts in the preseason games. If he continues to perform as he did in the spring, Williams could fight his way onto a roster that appears to have the majority of their receiver group already in place; Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Brice Butler, and Isaiah Ford would all appear to be ahead of Williams on the depth chart to start the summer.
Jonathan Ledbetter is another player to watch this summer. He has not had much talk surrounding him coming out of the spring, but he is someone who could become an important piece once pads come on and contact starts this summer. Ledbetter was good against the run at Georgia and the Dolphins need defensive line depth this year. He is someone who could make an impact very quickly in training camp and claim a roster spot.
Montre Hartage could be interesting. According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, “the Dolphins remain intrigued with Northwestern rookie cornerback Montre Hartage, who consistently held opposing quarterbacks to low passer ratings when targeted.” The Dolphins officially list Hartage as a safety, but they could be looking to move him around. He is not as fast as the ideal boundary corner or as quick and agile as the ideal slot corner, but he has great instincts and he does manage to impact plays when he is targeted. Hartage may need to prove this summer he can be a force on special teams, but the Dolphins seem to like what they have seen from him already.
Jaryd Jones-Smith is a player who I have liked since the Dolphins signed him after the collapse of the Alliance of American Football. He has the ability to play as a swing tackle, providing depth on either side of the field. He also could end up in the mix for a starting role as the Dolphins work to find either a right tackle or a right guard to play next to Jesse Davis. It feels like there is a role on the team for Jones-Smith, he and the coaches just have to figure out what it is.
Shaq Calhoun could also prove to be a depth option on the offensive line. He was thought to be a draft prospect, but he fell out of the selection process and the Dolphins added him shortly thereafter. He does not have the ideal size of a guard, but he has the talent to overcome that. He could claim a depth role for the offensive line this year.
Who will be the UDFA to make an impact and assure themselves of a roster spot? Will the Dolphins be able to find a gem out of the undrafted group? This summer, 21 undrafted players will be hoping they can make an impact.