Miami Dolphins Claim TE Will Yeatman off Waivers from Patriots
Undrafted out of Maryland, Yeatman was a surprise cut among some of the Boston media after he had outperformed rookie fifth-round pick Lee Smith, who was also waived yesterday.
To make room for Yeatman on the active roster, the Dolphins waived seventh-round rookie nose tackle Frank Kearse. Assuming he clears waivers, Kearse could end up back on the practice squad.
A blocking specialist, Yeatman joins Anthony Fasano and Jeron Mastrud (for now) as the Dolphins tight ends on the active roster. Undrafted rookie Brett Brackett has also returned on the practice squad.
A football and lacrosse player at the collegiate level, Yeatman initially attended Notre Dame and had six catches for 37 yards in 25 games between the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Multiple incidents involving underage drinking saw him suspended from both Fighting Irish squads, and he transferred to the University of Maryland in 2009.
Playing only lacrosse his first year in College Park, Yeatman joined the Terrapins' football team for his senior season in 2010. A fractured finger kept him out of the team's first two games, but he went on to appear in 11 games (three starts) and record 13 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Officially measuring in at just under 6'6" and 270 pounds, Yeatman ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at his Maryland Pro Day in March. He also posted a 28.5-inch vertical, 16 bench reps and 34 3/4" wingspan.
The Patriots signed Yeatman as an undrafted free agent following the end of the lockout in July. He reportedly stood out in training camp and worked ahead of fifth-rounder Lee Smith of Marshall in the preseason, catching five passes for 30 yards.
Reports indicate the Patriots intended to re-sign Yeatman to the practice squad before he was claimed by the Dolphins. Smith was also claimed, landing with another AFC East rival in the Buffalo Bills.
I said on both my blog's Facebook page and in my breakdown article regarding the Dolphins' cuts yesterday that I thought Yeatman might be a strong possibility for Miami, and that turned out to be absolutely true.
The Dolphins have been scouring the waiver wire for a backup to Fasano for the past few years, with three new faces added last year alone. That being the case, it's no surprise the Dolphins went after a promising talent like Yeatman that also happened to keep him away from a division rival.
The scouting report on Yeatman I got from a colleague that covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com is essentially this: He's never going to be Antonio Gates, but he has a ceiling as a No. 2 blocking tight end. He's kind of raw and stiff, but he has good size and solid hands to accompany strong blocking skills.
There are also some character concerns stemming from the drinking incidents that led to his transfer from Notre Dame, but one hopes the now 23-year-old (and thus of legal drinking age) Yeatman has moved past that.
In Miami, Yeatman could provide some insights into the Dolphins' opponent in Week 1 from his time in New England. More than that, however, he certainly has the blocking skills to immediately challenge Mastrud for playing time behind Fasano and in multiple tight end and goal-line sets.
There's no guarantee Yeatman develops into a long-term player for the Dolphins, as we've seen a myriad of late-round or undrafted tight ends come and go over the past few years. But I do like his upside and it makes me feel good knowing the Patriots are probably disappointed in losing him, so that means he might just have some value.
As for Kearse, expect him to be re-signed to the practice squad Monday if he clears waivers. The raw rookie nose tackle from Alabama A&M was a surprise non-cut yesterday, as I don't really consider him ready to contribute at the NFL level. Versatile lineman Ryan Baker becomes the de facto backup nose tackle behind Paul Soliai.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins Web site, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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