Dolphins Position Preview: Tight Ends
With the start of training camp on the horizon, let's break down the tight end position by examining the 2019 performance, the offseason changes on the roster and what to expect this summer.
PLAYERS AT POSITION ON THE ROSTER: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Chris Myarick, Michael Roberts, Bryce Sterk
2020 TRANSACTIONS: Signed Michael Roberts as a free agent (Feb. 19) ... Clive Walford became an unrestricted free agent (March 18) ... Signed Bryce Sterk as an undrafted rookie free agent (April 29)
KEY 2019 STATS: Mike Gesicki 51 catches, 570 yards (11.2 avg.), 5 TDs; Durham Smythe 7 catches, 65 yards (9.3 avg.); Clive Walford 4 catches, 57 yards (14.3 avg.)
2019 RECAP: As the Dolphins showed dramatic improvement in the second half of the season, it definitely showed in the production of the tight ends, specifically Mike Gesicki. The 2018 second-round pick from Penn State scored five touchdowns in the final six games after failing to get into the end zone in his first 26 NFL games. Included in that strong finish was a two-touchdown game in the Week 16 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals and, of course, the game-winning touchdown at Gillette Stadium in the Week 17 stunner against the Patriots. Even though Gesicki got the most playing time at tight end, it actually was fellow 2018 draft pick Durham Smythe who had the most starts with 11. Smythe, though, caught only seven passes as his role was mostly contained to blocking. Nick O'Leary, who is sidelined for the 2020 season after undergoing heart surgery, and Clive Walford also were part of the 2019 roster, but neither made much of an impact in their limited time with the team.
THE TOP SUMMER STORYLINE: With Gesicki firmly entrenched as "the guy" at tight end for the Dolphins, the only question in training camp will be to see if anybody can supplant Smythe as the No. 2. Michael Roberts missed all of the 2019 season after failing a physical with the Green Bay Packers, but he had three touchdowns in 2018 — ironically, two of them came against the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Chris Myarick is back after spending last season the practice squad and Bryce Sterk is an intriguing rookie free agent making the move to tight end after he played defensive end first at the University of Washington and then at Montana State.
PROJECTED OPENING-DAY STARTER: We've got to be careful about labels here, but Smythe technically was the starter in 2019, even though Gesicki got a lot more playing time. There's no question that Gesicki again will be the main guy at tight end, even if it ends up that Smythe is in the starting lineup Sept. 13 at Gillette Stadium.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.