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Dolphins training camp 2023: Building the roster - Tight ends

Part four of our look at the Miami Dolphins roster and how training camp could shake out. The Dolphins are shaking up their tight ends group for 2023.

Miami Dolphins Offseason Workout Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are on to day two of having their rookies in the team’s training facility as training camp begins. As we march toward the full start of training camp, with the veterans reporting on Tuesday, July 25, the 2023 season is not far from getting underway.

We continue our series breaking down the Dolphins’ roster, one position group at a time. We started with the quarterbacks and continued through the running backs and wide receivers. Now, as we look to build Miami’s 53-man roster, we turn to the tight ends.

Who is on the 90-man roster?

Tanner Conner
Elijah Higgins (R)
Julian Hill (R)
Tyler Kroft
Eric Saubert
Durham Smythe

What should we expect in training camp?

Miami is clearly looking to increase the blocking side of the tight end position. In doing so, they allowed Mike Gesicki to leave in free agency, with the veteran signing with the New England Patriots this year. Smythe would be considered the number two tight end last year, but he actually started 15 games on the year, appearing in one additional game. He only caught 15 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown, but he seems to fit what head coach Mike McDaniel wants from a tight end - block first, catch second.

Smythe should be the top player on the depth chart this season. The depth behind him will be worth watching this year. Miami added Eric Saubert and Tyler Kroft to the roster, with Tanner Conner, an undrafted free agent in 2022, returning for his second year. Miami also drafted Elijah Higgins, a wide receiver from Stanford, with the intent of transitioning him to tight end.

The Dolphins also signed Julian Hill from Campbell as an undrafted free agent.

Training camp will likely focus on the tight ends blocking, and blocking a lot. McDaniel’s offense seems to want the tight ends to work primarily as a sixth offensive lineman who has the option to serve as an emergency option for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. When they are a primary part of the passing game, it should come as a surprise, with them working in line and releasing from there. Gesicki was a seam-threat, pass-catching tight end, but he struggled as a blocker, and that led to Miami allowing him to leave.

Saubert, Kroft, and Conner are probably all battling for roster spots behind Smythe. Higgins likely needs to make a fast transition to working as a tight end and show he has the ability to work as a blocker to earn a spot on the roster and not be headed toward the practice squad.

Special teams play will come into consideration with all of the tight ends, so seeing who works in coverage and return situations could give a clue as to how the roster will shake out.

2023 53-man roster projection

Tyler Kroft
Eric Saubert
Durham Smythe

The wide receiver projection kept six players, which means somewhere another position group has to come in a little lean. That is the tight end position in this projection. Smythe takes the top spot, while Saubert and Kroft provide depth. Conner and Higgins are likely practice squad options to continue their development and provide depth during the season.