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Dolphins rookie tight end Elijah Higgins discusses transition to new position

The Miami Dolphins selected Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins in the 2023 NFL Draft, but are moving him to tight end.

NFL: MAY 12 Miami Dolphins Rookie Minicamp Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins used the 197th overall pick in last month’s 2023 NFL Draft to select Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins, but when they announcement of the pick was made, Miami listed Higgins as a tight end. During the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend, Higgins spoke to the media about the position change and explained, Miami was not the only team to look at him as a tight end.

“I would say like 28 out of 32. A rough estimate,” Higgins explained when asked about pre-draft discussions with teams looking to move him. He added that this was not the first time teams had considered changing his position, adding he had head about the possibility as far back as his senior year of high school.

“In high school, I wanted to play receiver.” he stated, discussion the path that landed him as a tight end with the Dolphins. “In college, I knew that was – seeing how my body transitioned through the years, I definitely got excited for it because I think it definitely fits my skill set pretty well.”

He added, “I ended up playing a big slot role [at Stanford], so it was essentially very similar to a flexed-out F tight end minus all of the blocking assignments. That will carry over for sure but obviously we’re going to have to learn how to block on the interior.”

Higgins seems to be hungry and ready to learn his new role in the Miami offense. “I got the playbook a couple of days ago, so I’ve been digging into that. Obviously learning a few different roles I’m not quite used to. But it has been fun so far and I’m excited for this first practice.”

He continued, explaining that both tight ends coach Jon Embree and the Dolphins’ incumbent starter at the position Durham Smythe have both been assisting in getting him up to full speed. “A little bit of both [Embree and Smythe],” he stated before Friday’s practice. “I’ve been in contact with Coach Embree and asking him questions here and there, just trying to earn my respect here on the field and do my best job.”

Along with picking up the playbook and learning from Embree and Smythe, Higgins has turned to watching what has worked in head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense in the past. McDaniel was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers before moving to Miami last year, bringing with him Embree and a similar offensive system. Higgins stated, “We’ve been watching a lot of (49ers tight end George) Kittle tape. Obviously he was there with the 49ers. Then I’m going to watch the guys here, in the system that we run, seeing how they do it and emulating that.”

He continued, “I’m excited, to be honest. I still don’t know too much. The practice plays that we are running right now are pretty minute and pretty straight-forward, so we’ll see how it feels today.”

The Dolphins will likely look to Smythe and free agent addition Eric Saubert to serve as the top two tight ends in the offense this year while Higgins continues to develop into his new role. The team also added free agent Tyler Kroft and are returning 2022 undrafted free agent Tanner Conner to provide depth options for the group.