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Dolphins Rookie Deep Dive: Hunter Long

With a degree in computer science, the ability to solve a Rubik's cube in under a minute and a hobby of assembling PCs in his spare time, Hunter Long is a modern-day Renaissance man. He also led all FBS tight ends with 57 receptions in 2020, the second-most by a tight end in program history, proving he matches his brains with his brawn.

The Dolphins selected former Boston College tight end in the third round, with the 81st pick, in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As a member of the Eagles, he excelled in varied offensive approaches amid a coaching change at BC. During Long's redshirt freshman and sophomore campaigns, the Eagles were a power running team that favored ground-and-pound to the tune of 66 percent of the offensive play calls.

Jump to the 2020 season, Long led BC in targets for an offense that achieved nearly a 50-50 split between the run and the pass.

"I always say that I feel like I got the best of both worlds at BC with both offenses," Long said. "Obviously it was a more run-heavy offense and this past year, we really opened up the pass game. I think it allowed me to become a well-rounded tight end and work at all aspects of the position."

At 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, Long has good size to function as a dual-faceted tight end. He averaged 14.6 yards per reception with a 96.0 percent reception rate, scoring nine touchdowns in his career. Simultaneously, he excelled as a blocker with sound technique and fundamentals.

With all the speed the Dolphins added on the perimeter this season, the middle of the field could conceivably open up for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa – an area where Long excelled. He caught 19 of 27 passes in the 10–19-yard range (left, middle or right) with a pair of touchdowns.

Rounding out Long's statistical highlights, he tied for third among 2020 NCAA tight ends with 11 contested catches. He allowed only one QB hit and 10 total pressures on 82 career pass-blocking snaps. Though he played just 27 snaps on special teams in 2020, he made three tackles in the game's third phase with 347 career snaps on return, coverage and kick units.

“He’s faster than your average 250-pounder, and it showed the way he turned screens and flat routes into big gainers. He followed it up with a far more classic tight end route tree performance this season that saw him go for 682 yards, highlighted by 11 contested catches. With very few holes in his game he has the physical tools to be a true inline guy in the NFL.” Mike Renner, Pro Football Focus Lead Draft Analyst

The groundwork of the relationship between Long and the Dolphins began back at the Senior Bowl. In Mobile, Long earned honors for the best practice player among the tight ends on the National team, coached by Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins staff.

"The BC program is known as being a hard-nosed, tough program," Long said. "It breeds guys like Coach Flores. I went down (to the Senior Bowl) and was able to show what I could do and build connections with all of the coaches. I was able to talk with them throughout the week. It was an awesome week for me and obviously I built a great connection with them."

"Hunter is tough. He's smart. We had him at the Senior Bowl, so our entire coaching staff got a chance to spend some time with him. He's a typical Boston College player," Flores joked with a wry smile. "He's tough, he's smart, he's team-first and we're excited to have him."

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