DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are in playoff contention in December, partially because of immediate production from their rookie class. The team has relied on several key rookies, such as first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, third-round pick Kenyan Drake and others.
Here is a rookie report and full grade on Miami’s draft class:
Best rookie: The Dolphins from Day 1 believed they got a first-round steal in Tunsil. They did not expect him to be available at No. 13, but the Dolphins had confidence in Tunsil’s character and football ability. Tunsil has been a good presence on the offensive line outside of missing two games because of injury. He is one of the team’s best pass protectors and is getting better at pulling and plowing forward against defenders in the running game. He started at left guard and at left tackle when starter Branden Albert has been injured.
Most improved rookie: Drake, a third-round pick, has continually improved as the season has gone on. A running back and kick returner, he made more plays in November than he did in September. Drake’s best plays thus far have been on special teams. He had kickoff returns of 96 yards and 76 yards.
Most disappointing rookie: Is it fair to label a season disappointing because of injury? If that’s the case, then second-round pick Xavien Howard gets the nod. Miami was counting on Howard to be a starter this season. But a pair of knee injuries has forced Howard to miss significant time.
The jury is still out on ... Jakeem Grant: A 5-foot-7 speedster, he flashed potential as a big-play threat in the preseason and briefly on special teams during the regular season. But Grant hasn’t been consistent enough to play offense and has had issues fielding kicks and punts on special teams. It remains to be seen if Grant can play receiver at the NFL level.
Undrafted rookie check in: The Dolphins haven’t had a lot of contributions from undrafted rookies this season. The most notable is defensive back Lafayette Pitts, who is a top special teams player. Pitts has three tackles.