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Leonte Carroo’s Dolphin Tale

I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Josh Houtz (@Houtz), who is a staff writer for the Miami Dolphins SB Nation’s site The Phinsider. Of course, I was interested to know about the Dolphins prospects for the coming NFL season now that former Rutgers star wide receiver Leonte Carroo is a Dolphin, having been drafted by them in the third round of the NFL Draft this past April 28-30.

Reaching out to Josh was a natural, as he already has demonstrated a great respect for the former Scarlet Knight in an article pointing out Carroo’s strengths and drawbacks. And not just in articles, either. This tweet says it all:

My first question to Josh was how the average Dolphin fan feels about Leonte on the squad. His reply was unambiguous: “The fans seem to be happy with Leonte Carroo and expect him to be every bit as good, if not better, than Jarvis Landry. He was the #2 rated wide receiver on the Dolphins’ draft board and although they gave up a hefty amount to move up, I think fans are very happy with how things turned out.”

That was good to hear, as Carroo was overlooked a lot while in college, and isn’t as widely known as other receivers who have fewer skills than Carroo.

Like Rutgers, Miami is also undergoing a coaching change this season, and I wondered how well the fans are reacting to the change. Josh felt there is a positive vibe from fandom on it. As he said, “After several years of Joe Philbin, the fanbase couldn’t be happier with [new Miami Head Coach] Adam Gase. He has an edge to him and I’m excited with how he’s been running things so far. Unlike Philbin, Gase is an offensive mastermind. I think the Dolphins found a head coach that can lead them for the next decade. He was our biggest signing of the offseason, an absolute home-run pick. I like the coordinators he brought along with him, and I’m excited for the 2016 season.”

A “offensive mastermind,” as Josh described the new coach certainly will help develop Carroo’s skills as a NFL receiver, and he is the type of player who responds well when given opportunities. But that led to a concern about the current state of the Miami offense. Are they going to be able to give opportunities to new players this year?

Houtz pulled no punches in his reply, “It’s early in camp, so it’s hard to get a grasp on everything Adam Gase plans to do on offense. You can expect to see lots of moving pieces, creating mismatches for opposing defenses. The offensive line is a bit unstable, as Laremy Tunsil transitions to guard, but I think they’re much better off than last year. Miami’s receiving core is one of the youngest and best units in the league, consisting of Landry, Parker, Stills, Carroo, and Grant. In the backfield they recently signed Arian Foster, and I believe Jay Ajayi is ready to take the next step in his NFL.”

Speaking of needs, what are the long-term needs of Miami, and how does Carroo fit into those needs? Jason responded by saying, “Long term, the Dolphins need to find some young talent on the defensive line. Wake and Williams aren’t long term contributors. You would hope to see Dion Jordan finally put things together, but it doesn’t seem likely. Outside of Byron Maxwell, there’s a lot of questions at cornerback. The team hopes Xavien Howard will become a stud, and Tony Lippett will continue to grow as a perimeter corner. As for Leonte Carroo, Miami believes he can play inside and out, and should have an expanded role in 2016 and beyond.”

How good are the rest of the receiving corps in Miami? “I’d say the Dolphins’ receiving corps is hands down the team’s strongest unit,” Houtz replied. “Jarvis Landry is one of the better receivers in the league, and can play anywhere on the field. DeVante Parker is destined to breakout in 2016, and fits the build of a true No.1 receiver. Kenny Stills wasn’t used as much as he could’ve been in 2015, and I think that changes under Gase. Miami gave up a lot to get Carroo, so I see him having a significant role this season. Jakeem Grant will be used throughout, and I fully expect Gase to utilize his speed to create mismatches.”

Another of the all-time Rutgers greats will be lining up against the Miami offense a couple of times a year when Devin McCourty of the Patriots comes to town. Some fans in Miami are already looking forward to that matchup, as shown here:

However, Josh Houtz doesn’t see that as a real possibility, at least this year: “Miami had a great deal of success against McCourty last year.” Houtz continued, “He will likely be matched up on DeVante Parker or Jarvis Landry, so he won’t necessarily line up across from Carroo in this year’s matchup.”

What is Josh’s prognosis on the coming season? “I expect the Dolphins to finish with somewhere between 7 to 9 wins in 2016, setting themselves up for a very bright future.” I’m sure that the Jets fans among our Rutgers faithful, as well as those who root for “Rutgers North” may disagree, but it is a good place for Leonte Carroo to begin his pro career.

Seeing Carroo in a jersey without any red in it, and not seeing the number 4 is decidedly odd, that’s for sure. But, I am sure Rutgers fans are looking forward to watching Leonte Carroo score TDs in the NFL, and hear the “CAARRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOO!” chant from the 65,000 seats in Sun Life Stadium.

Thanks to Josh again for taking the time to give us insight on the Miami Dolphins and Carroo’s potential role this season. You can follow his take this season at The Phinsider.