Top 10 Kickoff Return Options Available to Miami Dolphins in NFL Draft

Thanks to the NFL's kickoff format modification, the Miami Dolphins will presumably pay closer attention to returners in next week's NFL Draft.

The NFL’s decision last month to make revolutionary changes to the kickoff format means that all teams, including the Miami Dolphins, will need to account for dozens of new competitive plays throughout the season.

The league expects 50-60% of kickoffs to be returned under the new format, a big jump from the record-low 22% return rate in 2023.

Accordingly, teams will now place a greater premium on including skilled returners on their roster — and will presumably place a greater priority on that position in next week’s NFL Draft.

Miami Dolphins’ Kick Return Situation

The modified kickoff format, enacted by NFL owners at last month’s Annual League Meeting, brings strategy back into the game. There’s less incentive than ever to kick the ball through the back of the end zone, and teams with elite returners will have a real advantage.

Do the Dolphins have an elite returner currently on their roster?

Certainly, with their roster of track stars that includes Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, De’Von Achane, and Raheem Mostert, they don’t lack dynamic returners.

But those players are all important parts of Mike McDaniels’ plan on offense, and he probably doesn’t want to expose them to additional injury risk except in key situations.

That’s presumably a reason they brought back wide receiver Braxton Berrios, whose 10.2 yards per kickoff return in 2023 ranked 10th among all NFL players.

So there’s no need to force an early pick on a returner.

But there’s also no reason the team shouldn’t consider acquiring additional competition with one of their four Day 3 picks (158th, 184th, 198th, and 241st).

KEEP READING: 13 Day 2 Prospects Who Make Sense for Miami

“I think there’s teams and decision makers that want to be ahead of the curve a little bit and view that as — that could be a difference-making play again and something that we haven’t seen in terms of how this is set up,” NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said this week.

“I’m fascinated to see it, and I think it’s going to help separate a lot of ties between players. And I think it’s also going to be an easy sell for college teams now with some of these premier young players that they have, to convince them, ‘Hey, you can add to your value by being a returner for us.’ So I think that will be fun as well.”

So who are the best returners in this year’s class? Here are PFN’s Top 10, with where they rank on our Big Board:

  1. WR Xavier Worthy, Texas (No. 27 overall, No. 5 WR)
  2. CB Daequan Hardy, Penn State (No. 248 overall, No. 36 CB)
  3. WR/RB Ainias Smith, Texas A&M (No. 221 overall, No. 34 WR)
  4. WR Lideatrick Griffin, Mississippi State (No. 272 overall, No. 41 WR)
  5. RB Keilan Robinson, Texas (Not ranked)
  6. S Kenny Logan Jr., Kansas (Not ranked)
  7. RB Will Shipley, Clemson (No. 67 overall, No. 3 RB)
  8. WR Jaelen Gill, Fresno State (Not ranked)
  9. RB Tyrone Tracy Jr., Purdue (No. 173 overall, No. 15 RB)
  10. WR Malik Washington, Virginia (No. 81 overall, No. 16 WR)

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

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