Report Card Grades for the Miami Dolphins' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings

Ian WhartonContributor IMay 14, 2014

Report Card Grades for the Miami Dolphins' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings

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    Dolphins Pro Bowler Brent Grimes went undrafted; can Miami find another diamond?
    Dolphins Pro Bowler Brent Grimes went undrafted; can Miami find another diamond?Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    To wrap up the 2014 NFL draft season, it’s time to take a look at the Miami Dolphins' 18 undrafted free-agent signings.

    Every season there are unheralded rookies who make a major impact on the field for their respective teams, and the Dolphins are hoping to find the latest diamond-in-the-rough.

    We’ll go through every signing here, grading each signing based on likelihood the player can contribute to the team.

    Remember to leave your thoughts below in the comment section.

Anthony Johnson (DT, LSU)

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    Anthony Johnson (DT, LSU)

    Former LSU Tiger Anthony Johnson is a nice buy-low player for the Dolphins. At 6’2” and 308 pounds, Johnson was considered a potential first-round talent prior to 2013, then questions arose about his motor and how seriously he takes the game.

    He likely went undrafted after failing a drug test at the NFL combine, but he has considerable talent when he wants to show it.

    With defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers in the fold, if anyone can get Johnson to turn the light bulb on, it’s the Dolphins.

    He’s able to play inside tackle, or 1-technique, or as a pass-rushing 3-technique on occasion. His hand use and leverage is poor right now, but those are fixable through hard work and coaching.

    If Miami can get Johnson to get his head straight, watch out. Johnson has quality starter potential.


    Grade: A-

Harold 'Gator' Hoskins (TE, Marshall)

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Harold "Gator" Hoskins (TE, Marshall)


    Marshall TE/FB RT @herdnationnews: Gator Hoskins signs with the Miami Dolphins! #herdnation

    — Erik Frenz (@ErikFrenz) May 11, 2014


    Known as a “touchdown machine,” Gator Hoskins is a pass-catching tight end, in the mold of Dolphins playmaker Charles Clay.

    At the 2014 Senior Bowl, Hoskins grabbed my attention multiple times due to his ability to separate from some of the better prospects in the NFL draft, including first-round pick Dee Ford.

    Considering how similar Hoskins plays to Clay, it’s highly likely he at least makes the practice squad, if not the final roster.


    Grade: B+

Tyler Larsen (OL, Utah State)

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    Eric Draper/Associated Press

    Tyler Larsen (OL, Utah St)


    Tyler Larsen is a strong UDFA by Miami. Definitely could stick on that depth chart.

    — Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) May 12, 2014

    Originally I wasn’t sold on the signing of the former Utah State center Tyler Larsen. Then I went back, re-read my Senior Bowl notes and re-watched a few games, and I believe Larsen will make the active roster in 2014.

    He’s an experienced zone-blocker with solid technique in pass protection. He uses leverage effectively to wall-off rushers at the line of scrimmage. It’s unlikely he becomes a starter for the Dolphins due to physical limitations, but with Mike Pouncey hitting free agency after 2014, Larsen was a solid addition.


    Grade: A-

Ryan Lankford (WR, Illinois)

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    Seth Perlman/Associated Press

    Ryan Lankford (WR, Illinois)


    Dolphins sign Ryan Lankford, son of ex-Dolphins star Paul Lankford

    — Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) May 11, 2014


    Lankford had his senior season cut short after he suffered a broken bone in his shoulder early in 2013, but he was able to show his terrific athleticism at his pro day

    Although he was limited in the Illinois offensive scheme, Lankford (a Dolphins legacy) has considerable upside as a return man. Expect to see Lankford make the practice squad and possibly make the 2015 roster if he can impress in the preseason.


    Grade: B+

Damien Williams (RB, Oklahoma)

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Damien Williams (RB, Oklahoma)

    The talented Sooners running back was dismissed midseason by head coach Bob Stoops, citing multiple team violations.

    Williams brings an excellent blend of size, power and quickness to the Dolphins, who could be looking to replace Daniel Thomas in the backfield. He doesn’t have good vision, however, which could be a major issue with the Dolphins' zone-blocking scheme, which relies on vision.

    But don’t be surprised if Williams turns heads in the preseason, as long as he’s focused on football. His knack for consistent positive yards fulfills the goal of Miami's offensive scheme, so the fit is there.


    Grade: B

Garrison Smith (DT, Georgia)

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Garrison Smith (DT, Georgia)


    Garrison Smith will join Arthur Lynch, Rantavious Wooten, Knowshon Moreno, Reshad Jones and Dannell Ellerbee in Miami.

    — Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) May 11, 2014


    The former defensive captain for the Georgia Bulldogs brings a skill set that no other Dolphins defensive lineman has, as he is a 3-4 defensive end. With 310 pounds on his 6’1” frame, Smith is a solid two-gapper, capable of eating up blocks to free up the linebackers.

    He recognizes plays well and can shed blocks decently with his motor.

    It’ll be an uphill battle for Smith to make the roster, but it's not impossible, especially if defensive coordinator Kevin Coyles wants to employ 3-4 fronts.


    Grade: B

Tariq Edwards (LB, Virginia Tech)

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Tariq Edwards (LB, Virginia Tech)

    While at Virginia Tech, Edwards gained valuable experience at inside linebacker, a position needing more depth for the Dolphins.

    With his above-average athleticism, he was able to win the starting inside linebacker job for the Hokies three consecutive seasons, although 2012 was an injury-filled season.

    Edwards brings depth and potential special teams contributions to the Dolphins roster, which gives him an outside chance of making the cut.


    Grade: B-

Derrell Johnson (LB, East Carolina)

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    RHETT BUTLER/Associated Press

    Derrell Johnson (LB, East Carolina)


    #ECU linebacker Derrell Johnson signs free agent deal with @MiamiDolphins

    — FO Sports (@FO_Sports) May 13, 2014


    At 6’1” and 257 pounds, Johnson is a solid athlete at outside linebacker. He brings a low 4.6 40-yard dash speed, which allows him to play in coverage and rush the passer.

    He also shows good field awareness, rarely just blindly rushing the passer. He always has a plan on what he’s going to do.

    He uses leverage well, allowing him to convert his speed into power, which is extremely valuable when pass-rushing.

    Although he has short arms, he showed the ability to shed blocks better than most linebackers with a similar frame.

    All in all, Johnson is likely a power-rusher with some upside in zone coverage, giving him a chance to compete for the backup strong-side linebacker job behind Koa Misi.


    Grade: B

Steven Clarke (CB, Vanderbilt)

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Steven Clarke (CB, Vanderbilt)


    Steven Clarke has also signed! @steveoflash__12 has signed with the @MiamiDolphins. Good luck Steven and congrats.

    — VU Dores Fans/News (@VUDoresfansnews) May 11, 2014


    The 5’9”, 189-pound cornerback had a breakout year as a senior, logging a career high in tackles and becoming a solid zone player across from better-known defender Andre Hal.

    At his pro day, per, Clarke put up respectable numbers, showing average distance speed and a solid three-cone time.

    Clarke is a good scheme fit for Miami due to his quick hips and short-area quickness. Don’t be surprised if Clarke also gets snaps at safety, where he occasionally lined up in college.


    Grade: C-

Deion Belue (CB, Alabama)

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Deion Belue (CB, Alabama)


    Deion Belue has been picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins

    — BamaOnline (@BamaOnline247) May 13, 2014


    At 5’11”, 182 pounds, Deion Belue fits the average size of the current cornerbacks on the Dolphins roster.

    His wiry, strong frame allows him to line up against all but the biggest receivers. He has good distance speed, rarely allowing his man to get open deep. His ability to run downfield allowed Alabama to stick him on an island for stretches of games.

    Has clean footwork in coverage, rarely wasting steps when throttling from backpedal. The influence of former coach Nick Saban is evident.

    Despite being a good technical corner, Belue isn’t a good athlete. Besides his straight-line speed, he has no qualities that suggest he can cover receivers consistently one-on-one in the NFL, as they’re much bigger, stronger and quick-twitch players.

    Ultimately, Belue was a depth signing for training camp. Miami has a ton of talent at cornerback, likely giving Belue a slim chance of making the active roster.


    Grade: D

Tevin Mims (DE, South Florida)

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Tevin Mims (DE, South Florida)


    Nice graphic put out by USF celebrating former Stony Point DE Tevin Mims pick up by the Dolphins.

    — Jason Cecil (@JasonKCecil) May 11, 2014


    Tevin Mims is an athletic project out of USF. A former JUCO player, Mims brings his impressive 6’4”, 260-pound frame to the Dolphins, in hopes his sheer athleticism can earn him a practice-squad position.

    He only notched 3.5 sacks in 21 career games, so he needs a lot of repetitions and snaps to develop into a potential contributor.


    Grade: D

Davonte Wallace (OL, New Mexico St)

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    Davonte Wallace (OL, New Mexico St)


    Congrats to @afrank4 (Rams), @TNiX_02 (Saints) and Davonte Wallace (Dolphins) being picked up this weekend by NFL. #MakeAPlay

    — NMState_Football (@FootballNMSU) May 12, 2014



    A four-year starter for the New Mexico State Aggies, Wallace brings a good technical foundation to the Dolphins.

    Projected as a guard, Wallace doesn’t have more than average athletic ability, but he could compete with the backups along the offensive line in training camp due to his solid awareness and familiarity with the zone-blocking scheme.


    Grade: D

Andrew Wilson (LB, Missouri)

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Andrew Wilson (LB, Missouri)


    Mizzou LB Andrew Wilson signing as rookie free agent with Miami according to @garypinkel.

    — Jim Thomas (@jthom1) May 10, 2014


    At 6’2” and 239 pounds, Wilson is a similar size to the other outside linebackers whom Miami has brought in. With his average 40-yard dash of 4.74 seconds and a three-cone of only 7.48, he isn’t the athlete that the other signees project, so he will have to win with instincts.

    Wilson can play inside linebacker in 3-4 fronts, but since Miami rarely ran that last season, it’s unlikely we will see Wilson ever hit the field outside of the preseason.


    Grade: D-

Rantavious Wooten (WR, Georgia)

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Rantavious Wooten (WR, Georgia)


    Former Glades Central star Rantavious Wooten signed with the Dolphins as an UDFA today.

    — Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) May 12, 2014


    The diminutive receiver from Georgia had his best season in 2013, as a senior. Standing only 5'9" and 178 pounds, Wooten doesn’t offer Miami the type of big No. 1 receiver the Dolphins really could use on the roster, so this signing is a head-scratcher.

    At his pro day, per, he ran a respectable 4.53 40-yard dash and 4.10 shuttle time, showing that he is a decent athlete.

    The issue with this signing is that it doesn’t have much upside, as Wooten doesn’t bring any traits the Dolphins need or are lacking on the roster currently.


    Grade: D-

Kamal Johnson (DT, Temple)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Kamal Johnson (DT, Temple)


    Congratulations to Kamal Johnson for signing with the Miami Dolphins @Temple_FB

    — Matt Rhule (@CoachMattRhule) May 11, 2014


    Kamal Johnson was a surprise signing for the Dolphins, considering he pleaded guilty to kidnapping just eight months ago.

    But at 6’3” and 305 pounds, the risk of a rookie contract is almost nothing, so the Dolphins are bringing the athletic tackle.

    Johnson rarely played for the Owls over the course of his career, so there’s almost no tape to judge him off of. Maybe this was a signing driven by analytics, but I highly doubt Johnson makes an impact.


    Grade: F

Marcus Thompson (LB, Rutgers)

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Marcus Thompson (LB, Rutgers)


    Marcus Thompson officially signs undrafted free agent contract with Miami Dolphins. Expected to play linebacker. #RFootball #Rutgers

    — Double G Sports (@DoubleGSports) May 13, 2014


    The Dolphins are expected to move former Rutgers defensive end Marcus Thompson, with solid size at 6’2” and 260 pounds, to linebacker.

    Thompson has an excellent motor, never giving up on plays. He’s also a solid athlete, displaying rare movement skills, and the ability to change directions with ease.

    The issue with Thompson is that he certainly lacks the speed to get on the field consistently, giving him no true position. He doesn’t hold up at the point of contest, so he doesn’t shed blocks well.

    Thompson is a relative unknown in the scouting community when I asked around, so it’s unlikely he makes an impact for the Dolphins.


    Grade: F

David Hurd (OL, Arkansas)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    David Hurd (OL, Arkansas)


    #Arkansas OT David Hurd signing with #Dolphins per source.

    — Kristian Garic (@KristianGaric1) May 11, 2014


    The 6’6”, 308-pound offensive tackle from Arkansas claimed the starting job as a junior, logging a total of 24 career starts.

    Hurd is a low-ceiling player, with below-average measurables at his pro day, as outlined by, making this signing an odd choice. The Dolphins have put a premium on quickness and mobility for their offensive line, yet Hurd is better known for his nastiness and technical ability.

    Consider Hurd a long shot to make even the practice squad.


    Grade: F



    Note: All signings have been officially announced via the Miami Dolphins.

    All combine measurements are courtesy of