The Miami Dolphins will enter Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks as the biggest underdog on the NFL’s Week 1 schedule. The Seahawks are double-digit favorites and many think they can represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
If Miami aims to pull off the big upset, it will require a collectively solid performance from its rookie class. Here is a look at several Dolphins draft picks who will have big roles in their regular-season debuts:
First-rounder Laremy Tunsil: The Dolphins made Tunsil earn a job on the offensive line. He switched positions from left tackle to left guard and stayed primarily on the second team until the second preseason game. From there, Tunsil made solid strides and became the Week 1 starter. His first assignment won’t be easy. Seattle’s defense was No. 1 against the run last year. Run blocking is an area where Tunsil remains a work in progress.
Second-rounder Xavien Howard: Despite being a second-round pick, Howard might be the most important player in Miami’s rookie class to start the season. The team lacks depth at cornerback, and other options such as Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain were inconsistent this summer. Howard had knee surgery in June and played in just one preseason game last week. The Seahawks surely will test the rookie in his regular-season debut.
Third-rounder Leonte Carroo: The receiver position is in flux and Carroo could be a wild card. DeVante Parker (hamstring) missed three straight practices this week and his status is in doubt. Justin Hunter was picked up on waivers this week and it’s probably too much to ask of him to play a lot of snaps against the Seahawks. That leaves Carroo as Miami’s best option if Parker sits. Carroo has worked hard on being consistent. He feels he was the top receiver in the draft and could get a chance to prove it in Week 1 against the best secondary in the NFL.
Sixth-rounder Jakeem Grant: The 5-foot-7 Grant flashed on special teams. But it remains to be seen how comfortable Miami’s coaches are in letting the rookie take over return duties from Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry in a loud and crazy environment in Seattle. Grant could be an X factor if he gets some opportunities in the third phase.