Rookie Camp: Newcomers Shine On Day 1

It’s that time of the year again! The Miami Dolphins landed a ton of shiny new toys last week, and all of them were extremely anxious to take the field and play. Rookie camp began on Friday, and while you can’t base judgments on performances in shorts – it can still give the coaching staff an idea as to what they have to work with. Here is an update on some of the happenings worth noting on the first day:

First-round pick Dion Jordan participated in drills, but not scrimmages. He had shoulder surgery on February 28th, and is still recovering from it. However, it’s worth noting that most media personnel took observed his unbelievably long arms and legs in person – hence the Jason Taylor comparisons. He selected No. 95.

New cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis made a nice first impression with head coach Joe Philbin. “I like the fact that those guys were communicating,” said Philbin. "I watched some of their fundamental drills and they both look like they have good knee bend and move their feet pretty well, but obviously it was just a quick glance.” Will Davis completed his first day of rookie camp with an interception. With Richard Marshall and Dimitri Patterson having bloated salaries, these two rookies will really give them a run for their money (no pun intended). Taylor will wear No. 22, while Davis wears No. 29.

Third-round pick offensive lineman Dallas Thomas selected No. 70. After the Dolphins selected him on the second day, there was a lot of speculation as to where they would line him up. He was incredibly versatile at Tennessee – playing at both guard and tackle. After initially being somewhat limited at rookie camp due to shoulder surgery, he finally took all of his snaps at left tackle. That leads most to believe that for the moment, he’ll be Jonathan Martin’s primary competition for Ryan Tannehill’s opening day left tackle.

Fourth-round pick tight end Dion Sims selected No. 80. He looked surprisingly lean at rookie camp – listed at 6-4, 262 pounds. Sims was seen as this draft’s best in-line tight end, with his ability to block being in the elite category. He played at 280 pounds at Michigan State, so his drop in weight should make him a more dynamic pass catcher. “He looks like a tight end. One thing I liked fundamentally is his bend,” said Philbin.

If rookie camp had a headliner, it would have been Florda running back Mike Gillislee, who undoubtedly stole the show. Rocking No. 35, he broke multiple long runs and constantly got on the second level. Although we have yet to see Gillislee work with pads on, he should have absolutely no problem beating Daniel Thomas for the backup running back position.

Fellow Gator Caleb Sturgis showed off his strong leg by nailing three consecutive field goals from 43, 49, and 50 yards. Dan Carpenter isn’t as bad as many Miami fans believe he is, but this is a competition worth keeping an eye on. Carpenter’s bloated salary doesn’t help his chances, and teams typically don’t use a draft pick on a kicker they aren’t planning on keeping. Unless Sturgis face-plants or falls to injury, he should be victorious. Sturgis will wear No. 9.

There was a surplus of undrafted rookies on the first day of camp, but one worth mentioning is Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs. He isn’t very big at 5-10, 205 pounds, but he had a knack for making plays and creating turnovers. He had two interceptions and showed outstanding instincts. So what does that tell the coaching staff? Absolutely nothing. One can’t assume anything about any players performing like All-Pro athletes in shorts, but it is still encouraging nonetheless for the undrafted rookie. For the record, Kovacs is wearing No. 44.  

Other top draft pick numbers: LB Jelani Jenkins 43, CB Don Jones 36

New uniforms, new team, different ambiance. There’s an unusual feeling in the air at the Dolphins' facility these days. It’s too soon to tell, but something about the atmosphere suggests that this is a team on an upward trend. The rookies handled themselves on their first day of school exceptionally well, and we’ll certainly be monitoring their progress.