The Dolphins have added two former first-round picks from other teams to their defensive line since training camp began in late July, and their position coach likes the long-range potential of both of them.
Taco Charlton has made an immediate impact since being claimed off waivers from Dallas with two sacks in his first two games with the Dolphins. Robert Nkemdiche, meanwhile, continues to work on his conditioning while he’s on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Nkemdiche, who was signed as a free agent Aug. 8, was the 29th overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft when he was selected by the Arizona Cardinals out of the University of Mississippi.
He appeared in 27 games with six starts in three seasons with the Cardinals, who placed him on active/PUP in July and waived him with a failed physical designation six days later.
After starting the season on active/PUP with the Dolphins, Nkemdiche will be eligible to begin practicing after the first six weeks of the regular season and then the team would have a three-week window to activate him, release him or put him on injured reserve.
“He’s a kid I’ve known for a long time,” defensive line coach Marion Hobby said Tuesday morning when all Dolphins assistant coaches spoke to the media. “I've followed him through Ole Miss and then getting to the Cardinals. Once healthy, I think everybody knows he’s got that big-time ability.”
Nkemdiche has been working diligently on his conditioning with strength and conditioning coach Dave Puloka, and Hobby joked that he wants to be the only extra-large guy in the (defensive line) room.
“Every time I see him he’s making a swim move on me,” Hobby said. “He’s starting to feel it a little better. He wants to show me that he’s feeling better. I just tell him all the time, ‘You gotta do what the doctors tell you, you gotta do what the trainer tells you. Just like on the field, you gotta do what they tell you to do. When you’re ready, they’ll let you know. Let’s not do too much too soon.’ ”
Charlton was selected almost in the same spot as Nkemdiche, going 28th overall to the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.
When he took down Philip Rivers on Sunday, he became the first player to record a full sack in each of his first two games with the Dolphins since 2008 when Kendall Langford did it against the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals.
“He’s big, he’s long, he’s athletic,” Hobby said. “I tell you what, he’s really a smart player. Has a really good football IQ. To come in here that early that week and get prepared to go back to Dallas, he had a couple of mental errors and kind of feeling his way out, but I like the grasp that he’s taking, the seriousness of it, the playing. Last week he got a little bit more comfortable because he’s learning what to do and what’s expected of him. I just think he’s going to continue to grow, but he’s a good natural football player.”