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The Curious Case of Leonte Carroo

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo (88) runs for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) attempts to tackle, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Round 3 was winding down on the second night of the 2016 NFL draft. Most Dolphins fans thought they could take a break from the draft for a little while as Miami wasn’t slated to pick again until round 5. Most Dolphins fans also thought the team was pretty set at the wide receiver position with a trio of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker.

Then, to just about everyone’s surprise, they jumped back into the 3rd round selecting Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo, and gave up a hefty package of picks to do so. The price they paid the Minnesota Vikings in order to pick Carroo was a 2016 6th round pick, and 2017 3rd and 4th round picks.

The Dolphins brass obviously thought quite highly of Carroo spending that kind of draft capital on a player who didn’t play a position of need. Miami didn’t hide their interest in him either, as they brought him in for an official visit during the draft process. Carroo was even seen as relatively good value at that point in the draft, as he had built some buzz going into the draft with some pundits suggesting he could go as high as the 2nd round. Nevertheless, many Dolphins fans were left scratching their heads by the move.

Caroo’s rookie year was a disappointment. With Miami’s glut of talent at wide receiver it wasn’t exactly easy to get on the field, but with DeVante Parker slowed with injuries, Carroo did get some opportunities. Unfortunately for Carroo, he didn’t capitalize on those opportunities and finished the season with 3 receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown. He was even overtaken on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Rashawn Scott, leaving Carroo inactive for the last few games of the year.

The sting of Carroo’s rookie year got worse when the 2017 draft rolled around. Miami originally felt like they could give these picks up because they were counting on getting a bundle of compensatory picks (which they did get). Looking at what they could have done with those picks in a deep draft at some positions of need, however, you can’t help but wonder “what if”.

With Julius Thomas struggling, how nice would it be to have Jonnu Smith or George Kittle at tight end? With Nate Allen looking like the weak link on defense, and TJ McDonald suspended, wouldn’t it be great to have Eddie Jackson, who’s starting for the Bears at safety? Bobby McCain has had his moments, but wouldn’t it be great to have depth at slot corner with a guy like Jourdan Lewis, who’s playing lights out for the Cowboys?

With Miami’s line struggles, wouldn’t we like to have more options (any options) on the offensive line? And while the RB position isn’t exactly one of need, it doesn’t feel great knowing that stellar rookie Kareem Hunt, who is taking the league by storm, was drafted with the exact 3rd round pick Miami gave up for Carroo.

This season hasn’t started any better for Carroo with zero catches through 4 games. With Parker going down early last week against the Titans, it was Jakeem Grant, not Carroo, that was given the majority of Parker’s snaps. With the increasing likelihood that Parker will miss the upcoming game against the Atlanta Falcons, Adam Gase has said he wants to give Carroo a bigger share of the snaps this week. Ironically, Carroo’s best play in a Dolphins uniform came against the Falcons.

In game 1 of the 2017 preseason, Carroo made a great adjustment on a deep ball from quarterback Brandon Doughty to step in front of the defensive back and take the ball into the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown.This could be Carroo’s opportunity to prove himself, or it could be another step back towards the roster bubble. Miami has multiple young receivers awaiting their opportunity, and if Carroo can’t get the job done, someone else will get their chance. Patience among fans (and one would have to imagine the coaching staff as well) is wearing thin.

It’s put up or shut up time.

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Adam has been a football fan his entire life. His love of the game started as a young boy when he would go to Dolphins games with his father, and his passion for football and the Miami Dolphins has continued to grow ever since. He coached high school football for 6 years, spending the bulk of that time working with wide receivers.

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