- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the biggest criticisms on the 2013 Miami Dolphins is the lack of production from their rookie draft class. The Dolphins drafted nine players – and each made the team out of training camp.
Here is a look at how each Miami rookie fared last season:
DE Dion Jordan, first round, No. 3 overall
Stats: 26 tackles, two sacks
Analysis: The bar was high for Jordan entering the year. Miami traded up to the No. 3 pick to get Jordan, which shows how much its front office thought of him as a player. Jordan never got his footing following offseason shoulder surgery. He wasn’t 100 percent in training camp or the preseason and fell behind more productive players like Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby. Jordan must put on more weight and get stronger against the run in 2014. He will start next year as a backup.
CB Jamar Taylor, second round, No. 54 overall
Stats: 3 tackles
Analysis: Similar to Jordan, offseason ailments stunted Taylor’s growth. He had multiple health issues before and during training camp, which put Taylor behind. The Dolphins could certainly use their second-round pick at corner in 2014. The secondary is not deep and has some pending free agents. Taylor should get multiple opportunities to find a role next season.
OL Dallas Thomas, third round, No. 77 overall
Stats: No stats
Analysis: Thomas was a major disappointment as a rookie. Miami’s offensive line had a plethora of issues on and off the field, and Thomas still was unable to see the field. Even undrafted rookie Sam Brenner took playing time from Thomas. Thomas appears to be a better guard than tackle, and the Dolphins will have a void with starters John Jerry and Richie Incognito as pending free agents.
CB Will Davis, third round, 93 overall
Stats: 8 tackles
Analysis: Davis was an interesting case his rookie year. He was the talk of training camp after constantly picking off Miami quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore in practice. Davis unofficially led the Dolphins in training camp interceptions and got one pick in a preseason game. Davis appeared on his way to finding a role on the team. However, a toe injury kept Davis out several weeks and he never got back into the rotation. Davis received spotty playing, but certainly not enough to find a groove. Davis should get another chance to get into the rotation in next year’s camp.
LB Jelani Jenkins, fourth round, 104 overall
Stats: 17 tackles
Analysis: Jenkins came to Miami as a raw product from the University of Florida. The Dolphins felt his athletic ability would translate well, and that got Jenkins on the field some in sub packages and special teams. Jenkins’ biggest play was a crushing blow on Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis in October that resulted in an NFL fine. The Dolphins need to see more big hits – albeit legal ones – for Jenkins to get more playing time in 2014. But there were some flashes.
TE Dion Sims, fourth round, 106 overall
Stats: Six receptions, 32 yards, one touchdown
Analysis: Sims had a decent training camp and translated that into playing time this year. A season-ending knee injury to Dustin Keller moved Sims up the depth chart to the second tight end behind starter Charles Clay. However, Miami used a ton of three-receiver sets. Sims didn’t get many reps, outside of being an extra blocker. Sims’ biggest play was a game-winning touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons.
RB Mike Gillislee, fifth round, 164 overall
Stats: Six carries, 21 yards
Analysis: Despite Miami’s inability to run the football consistently, Gillislee spent most of the year on the inactive list. He dressed on Dec. 1 against the New York Jets and rushed for 21 yards. The Dolphins could be looking for upgrades at running back this offseason via the draft or free agency. Next season could be make or break for Gillislee to prove himself.
K Caleb Sturgis, fifth round, 166 overall
Stats: 26-of-34 on field goals, 33-of-33 on extra points
Analysis: Minus some rookie hiccups, Sturgis had a strong rookie season as Miami’s new kicker. He replaced longtime Dolphins veteran Dan Carpenter and led the team in scoring with 111 points. Sturgis displayed a strong leg with field goals and kickoffs. The Dolphins appear set at the kicker position for years to come.
DB Don Jones, seventh round, 250 overall
Stats: 10 tackles, one tackle for loss
Analysis: Jones came to Miami as a long shot to make the team. But his ability to play special teams earned him a roster spot and he stayed there all year. Jones was one of the Dolphins’ best players in the third phase of the game. He made some big hits in kick coverage and that should help him find a roster spot again next season.