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Mike McDaniel on Elijah Higgins: Converting WR to TE in today’s NFL isn’t as hard as it used to be

While Mike Florio and Chris Simms believe the Dolphins don’t have any “glaring” needs for the 2023 NFL Draft, they explain why an elite TE would help take the team to the next level.

The Dolphins needed a tight end in the draft. Technically, they didn’t take one.

They took Stanford receiver Elijah Higgins, and they plan to make him into a tight end.

Coach Mike McDaniel discussed the prospect and the project in a Saturday session with reporters.

“First of all, I’m just excited to add the competitor,” McDaniel said of Higgins. “You see through his game tape that he’s a guy that strains with the ball in his hands. But specifically for the tight end position, drafting a guy that plays wide receiver and converting him to tight end -- I think the first time in my career that I was a part of that was Niles Paul back in 2011 out of Nebraska. For me and my history, there’s a lot of traits that he resembled in his competitiveness, in his size and in his strength.

“And really, this day in age, converting a receiver to a tight end isn’t as abstract as it used to be only because half the teams are playing spread and two-point [stances] anyway. Even if they’re called a tight end, they’re playing receiver stuff anyway. So you get kind of used to projecting people to do things like that and we felt very comfortable and confident that he fit the bill for that, so we’re excited to have him.”

But the Dolphins still lack that George Kittle-style rough-and-tumble badass who can contribute in the passing game, and who can knock defenders around with reckless abandon in the run game. Then again, one of the reasons Kittle is so great is because that skillset is so rare, especially at the level at which Kittle can perform both of them.