“All three had really good college careers,” FIU coach Butch Davis said on Monday. “I think all three have legitimate chances to make NFL rosters.”
Davis pointed to a pair of ex-FIU players who were not drafted in 2018 — linebacker Anthony Wint and tight end Pharoah McKever — but still scored invites to training camp and took advantage. Wint played two games for the New York Jets last year and is on this season’s depth chart as a backup. McKever is listed as a fourth-stringer for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As for this year’s crop of undrafted free agents, perhaps Wilson can beat out veteran Matt Haack, who averaged 44.6 yards per punt for the Dolphins last year. Wilson averaged 44.2 yards for FIU, and now they could get matched up punt for punt in practices.
“I told scouts that Stone might get cut a time or two, but he has the talent to stay in the league for six, eight, 10 years,” Davis said. “It’s tough because they only keep one punter.”
Also, the Dolphins are bringing in FIU punter Stone Wilson to challenge punter Matt Haack.
FIU ranked 21st in the nation in punting average last season at 44.0. Wilson had 423 punting yards against UM last season, an FIU record (and a testament both to Wilson and UM’s defense).
The Dolphins haven’t announced any of their signings, all of which were confirmed either by the players or league sources.
Undrafted UM linebacker Mike Smith – whom coach Manny Diaz has talked up in recent weeks – changed his mind and canceled plans to audition for the Dolphins at their rookie minicamp and instead accepted a similar tryout offer from the Buffalo Bills.
The 6-0 Rolle played seven games at corner as a freshman before moving to safety and has position versatility. He was used similarly to the way Alabama utilized Minkah Fitzpatrick in his final season in college.
“He had a draftable grade coming into the season but never really elevated his game,” Pauline said. “Very streaky. He’s OK.”
Among specialists, it was telling that the Dolphins gave FIU’s Stone Wilson a contract instead of simply a tryout at their rookie minicamp beginning May 10. He’s a legitimate candidate to beat out Matt Haack.
Walterfootball.com rated Wilson the fifth-best punter in this draft. Wilson averaged 44 yards per punt with a long of 63 yards; last year, he had a 71-yard punt.Davis gave the example of Phil Dawson, who was cut twice before finally sticking with the Cleveland Browns in 1999. Davis coached Dawson in Cleveland from 2001 to 2004, and the kicker went on to earn Pro Bowl status in 2012 and is still in the NFL at age 44.
Meanwhile, Worton is set up to get the chance to catch passes from Matt Ryan while learning from six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones.
It’s time we got to know punter Matt Haack a little bit better. I mean doesn’t he deserve a closer look after what he has done so far this season, the uncanny accuracy inside the 20 yard line, how he has been as consistently good as any player on this team and undoubtedly as reliable.
All of this from a player who was a receiver growing up, who didn’t even try to punt until late in his high school career and who actually didn’t even know the right way to punt until college. In fact, if not for a go-for-it moment his senior year of high school when Haack decided to take a chance at a national punting camp, he certainly wouldn’t be where he is today.