Top Dolphins undrafted rookie speaks on slide in NFL draft, opportunity in minicamp

·4 min read

New Dolphins undrafted rookie Kellen Diesch knows his arm length doesn’t meet the threshold for many NFL teams.

“I kind of knew it. In high school, I had my mom measure my arms,” said Diesch, whose 32-inch arms landed in the eighth percentile for offensive tackles tested at the combine.

He also acknowledges his age — Diesch will turn 25 before the start of the regular season — is much older than the average draft prospect.

What Diesch doesn’t know is to what extent those factors played a role in going from a projected Day 2 pick to not hearing his name called at all during the draft. But it wasn’t on his mind as he wrapped up his second day of rookie minicamp Saturday.

“I don’t know what people look for in draft rooms and whatnot,” he said. “I’m just excited to be here.”

Diesch, one of the 14 undrafted free agents the Dolphins signed ahead of rookie minicamp, is on the early shortlist of players viewed as strong candidates to make the team. The Dolphins gave him $140,000 in guaranteed money — the most of any undrafted rookie who signed with the team.

“In college, people told me the NFL is not a developmental league and they don’t focus on technique,” Diesch said, “but we’ve been focusing on a lot of technique, which has been awesome. I’ve been enjoying getting to learn under [offensive line coach Matt Applebaum] and this new style of offense for me.”

Diesch, who grew up in a Dallas suburb, began his college career at Texas A&M but didn’t make a single start over four seasons. He transferred to Arizona State, where he made 17 starts at left tackle the past two years, earning All-Pac 12 honors each season.

While he was regarded as a Day 2 prospect, draft analysts noted that Diesch’s less-than-ideal arm length and age could hinder his stock, and his 6-7 frame might pigeonhole him to tackle.

But Diesch sees opportunity in Miami, where the Dolphins still have questions about who will start at right tackle.

Diesch said there are some differences in the new offense he has to learn. Arizona State was primarily a power-run-based scheme but also incorporated outside zone, which is expected to be a staple of coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Diesch’s athleticism — his 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle time ranked in the 96th and 97th percentile for tackles — is expected to aid him greatly in the transition.

“Coming off the ball, just getting on people, finishing through, driving your legs, it’s all apart of it in this offense,” he said.

McKinley vying for spot on defense, reunion with Holland

Safety Verone McKinley III said he’s been working to learn multiple spots on defense. While he was primarily a deep safety at Oregon, he logged 176 snaps in the box and 157 as a slot cornerback in the 2021 season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Miami Dolphins safety Verone McKinley (32) speaks to reporters after practice at Dolphins Rookie Minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens on Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Miami Dolphins safety Verone McKinley (32) speaks to reporters after practice at Dolphins Rookie Minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

One of the 14 undrafted rookies who signed a deal with the Dolphins, McKinley is looking to secure a spot as a potential backup safety behind Jevon Holland, his former Oregon teammate, and third-year player Brandon Jones.

“Miami felt like it was the best place for me,” McKinley said, “somewhere I could grow and a place where I know there’s opportunity, wherever that may be. And of course having Jevon and talking to the coaches and having so many different influences and people that I know can pour into me was a big part of my decision.”

NOTE

The Dolphins announced they waived offensive lineman Ty Clary with a failed physical and signed center Cole Banwart.

The team on Friday announced Clary, an Arkansas alum, was one of the undrafted free agents who reached terms on a deal ahead of rookie minicamp. Banwart, who was invited to rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, spent last season on the practice squad with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants but did not appear in a regular-season game. Banwart, who originally signed with the Tennessee Titans after he wasn’t selected in the 2021 Draft, played college football at Iowa, where he earned third-team All America and second-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior.

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