Between now and the 2023 NFL Draft, I’m going to showcase some of my favorite draft prospects at the Dolphins’ biggest areas of need. Heading into day two of the draft, general manager Chris Grier and head coach Mike McDaniel will be looking for starters and/or depth at several areas of need on the roster. The biggest needs, in my opinion, are at right tackle, tight end, linebacker, left guard, and running back. That’s probably how I’d rank them too! Of course, there are other areas Miami could address and different ways to do so, but for now, these are Miami’s glaring weaknesses (IMO).
So. without further ado, here are five tight ends the Miami Dolphins should draft in the 2023 NFL Draft.
(If you missed my 5 running backs the Miami Dolphins should target in the 2023 NFL Draft article, click HERE)
Darnell Washington, Georgia
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Weight: 270 lbs.
2022 Stats: 28 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns.
You remember that kid in 7th grade who was just laughably bigger than everyone else, making him the first pick at recess regardless of sport?— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 16, 2023
I get that same feeling when watching Darnell Washington pic.twitter.com/zebU07E3JA
Shortly after the combine, I boldly stated that Darnell Washington would likely not be available when the Dolphins are on the clock at pick No.51. And while that still may be the case, I think there’s a better chance now that he will be available than ever before. Unlike some of the other tight ends in this class, Washington was underutilized at Georgia. He’s impressive as a run blocker and equally as impressive in pass protection, but he’s got some work to do as a pass-catcher and a route-runner.
Would that be enough for general managers to pass on him in favor of some other guys in this class? Probably not. And if I still had my pick of the litter — outside of the top two, Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer — Darnell Washington would be my guy. Now, lettuce pray he falls to No.51 — so Miami can get their game-changing tight end and the de-facto sixth offensive lineman that the team desperately needs.
Sam LaPorta, Iowa
Hometown: Highland, Illinois
Weight: 249 lbs.
2022 Stats: 58 receptions for 657 yards and one touchdown.
Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta is the prospect that many consider the perfect fit in Mike McDaniel’s offense. He’s also the prospect that most mock drafts have the Dolphins selecting at No. 51 overall. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s the guy, but Miami met with him during the draft process. And while most of Iowa’s 2022 season was overshadowed by mediocre quarterback play, LaPorta stood out as the team’s best offensive weapon.
He’s adequate as a blocker but won’t wow you like Darnell Washington might, but that’s okay. He makes up for it with his savvy route-running and quick feet. He’s also very good at going up and bringing in contested catches. And unlike some of the tight ends Dolphins fans have become accustomed to, he doesn’t go down on first contact. LaPorta is a beast, and if he’s the pick at No. 51, I won’t lose any sleep over it — and neither should you.
Luke Musgrave, Oklahoma State
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Weight: 253 lbs
2022 Stats: 11 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown. (Suffered a season-ending injury)
Luke Musgrave is a WR playing TE.— H (@DynastyBuffs) April 12, 2023
If you've been following me for some time, I bet you can guess where I have Musgrave ranked! pic.twitter.com/TMmcg1vE4q
At first, I was a little hesitant to watch Oklahoma State’s Luke Musgrave, considering some of the talk going around Twitter was that he reminded draft analysts of former Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. To me, that immediately meant he couldn’t block and struggled to pick up yards after the catch. Thankfully, that’s not entirely the case with Musgrave. Like LaPorta, he’s an adequate blocker in the run and passing game. But that doesn’t stop him from looking the part of an NFL tight end. From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t break many tackles or create yards after the catch, but that won’t stop him from being a starter in the NFL for a team willing to take a chance on a player coming off a significant knee injury.
Could Musgrave be the tight end Mike McDaniel covets to take the offense to the next level? It’s certainly possible. And like both Washington and LaPorta, the Dolphins will likely have to pull the trigger at No. 51 to make it happen. Personally, I like Tucker Kraft more than Musgrave and think he’d be a better fit for what Miami is trying to do offensively.
Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
Hometown: Timber Lake, San Diego
Weight: 255 lbs
2022 Stats: 27 receptions for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
We all remember when the Dolphins selected Mike Gesicki over South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert in the 2018 NFL Draft. Many experts pre-draft had Miami taking Goedert, so when Miami was on the clock, it seemed like a foregone conclusion he would be the pick. Flash forward five years later, and another South Dakota State tight end is entering the draft, and he might be a better prospect than Goedert — if you can believe that. Kraft is very good at blocking, but what stood out most when watching the tape was how much of a bully he was with the ball in his hands. Maybe it’s because he competed in the Moutain West Conference, but he looked like a man amongst boys, often fighting through one or two defenders before picking up additional yards. He’s also a good route-runner.
All in all, I’m a big fan of Kraft. He plays like a refrigerator riding a skateboard. And I believe that under the tutelage of tight ends coach Jon Embree and Mike McDaniel, he could take the Dolphins’ offense to the next level. Kraft is officially on my 2023 man-crush list.
Brenton Strange, Penn State
Hometown: Dalton, Georgia
Weight: 246 lbs
2022 Stats: 32 receptions for 362 yards and five touchdowns.
In a draft with many high-end TE prospects, Brenton Strange is an intriguing day 2/3 guy. Good frame to make himself available as a red zone target, violent and strong hands as a blocker, and has some skills after the catch pic.twitter.com/tjjsyNOGr1— Billy M (@BillyM_91) April 20, 2023
Brenton Strange is an exciting prospect with which McDaniel and the Dolphins met a great deal at Penn State’s pro day. There were even videos of him and Miami’s head coach listening to music on his iPhone. Strange, like LaPorta, was held back by poor quarterback play for most of his collegiate career, but that didn’t stop him from being a big-time playmaker in the Nittany Lions offense. He’s not necessarily great at anything but can do everything exceptionally well. Pass protect? Check. Run block? Check. He’s also an above-average route-runner who always found a way to make it happen when Penn State needed a big play.
I’m not sure what round Strange will be drafted, but there’s a perfect chance he’s the tight end the Dolphins covet. And based on their experience with Nittany Lions tight ends, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on.
What are your thoughts on the tight end class in this year’s NFL Draft? Do you think the Miami Dolphins will target one with the 51st overall pick? Which late-round draft prospects do you like for Mike McDaniel’s offense? Let us know in the comments section below!