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Five Things: Jonnu Smith

The Dolphins added an experienced, jack-of-all trades to the tight end room in newly minted Jonnu Smith. Here are five things to know about the latest addition to the Miami offense.

1. An Obvious Fit

"Really, the biggest thing for us is (yards after catch). We want to YAC the heck out of teams," quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said in April 2022.

Two months prior to those comments, new Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel shared his affinity run yards after the catch, a promise the team has delivered on. Prior to McDaniel's arrival, the Dolphins ranked 30th in yards after catch. In just two seasons, McDaniel's Dolphins climbed to fourth in YAC in 2023.

That lofty ranking could still reach new heights with the Jonnu Smith signing. He ranked third in YAC average among all tight ends behind only George Kittle and David Njoku in 2023. Smith racked up an impressive 7.1 yards after the catch per reception, besting new teammates Jaylen Waddle (5.8) and Tyreek Hill (5.5) by more than a yard per reception.

The tight end position requires significantly more than just the ability to carry the football. In Smith, Dolphins are getting more than just a bulldozer with the ball in his hands. They're getting a multi-facetted playmaker who has produced over 2,550 yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns over seven seasons.

2. Versatility Defined

At 6-4, 248 pounds, Smith knows how to wear many hats at a position that encompasses every facet of the game. A tight end is like a quarterback in the sense that they're responsible for all three aspects – pass routes, pass protection and run blocking – nobody else on the field participates in all three.

Smith's seen his role shift at the various stops of his career, including his pre-snap alignment. On any given snap, defenders have to figure out where the former Florida International Golden Panther is lining up.

With Atlanta in 2023, Smith split his time almost evenly as a slot receiver and attached to the line of scrimmage in a traditional tight end position. He also plays out wide at receiver, and even lined up in the backfield on 29 occasions last season (per Pro Football Focus).

From his time with the Titans and Patriots, he's seen his usage vary, demonstrating his value as a flexible piece that can help an offense be extremely versatile.

3. The Rich Get Richer

Joining the No. 1 ranked total offense, this is an exciting opportunity for Smith. He was on offenses that ranked 26th, 15th and 11th the last three seasons. The 11th ranked Falcons attack, like Miami, was loaded with weapons – but former Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith was excited about the addition of Jonnu Smith.

"It gives you another weapon," Arthur Smith said. " Jonnu is somebody that's made plays in big-time games. So when you've got a lot of belief, okay, pick your poison, and Jonnu is one of those guys, he's a great catch-and-run player. He's hard to tackle."

4. Back to his Roots

Born in Philadelphia, Smith found his way to Ocala, Florida, where he played his prep ball at West Port High School.

Smith's college career brought him further south in the state of Florida. He spent four years on a campus just 23 miles from Hard Rock Stadium. While at FIU, Smith tallied over 2,000 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. When Smith buckles his Dolphins chin strap on game day, he'll become the first FIU product to play for the hometown team in a regular-season game.

After four years in Nashville with the Titans, Smith's professional career followed a similar path as the one he traveled as a youth. Smith signed a massive free agent contract with the Patriots, made a one-year pit stop in Atlanta – where he posted career highs in receptions (50) and receiving yards (582) – and ultimately setting up shop in South Florida.

5. Football, Faith, and Fatherhood

Through his circuitous football path, the main things have stayed the main thing for Jonnu Smith – his love of football, his faith, and his blessing as a father. Smith draws on his past experiences, hardships, and most importantly, his faith, to provide a great life for his kids.

The biggest hardship Smith faced: the loss of his father when he was just six years old.

"It's been an empty void for me not having a father], but with Christ, he was able to fill that void,” Smith said in an [interview on "When you're younger, you kind of just go to church because your mom makes you. You don't really know much of anything at all [about religion], but the bible says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

For more analysis on Jonnu Smith and the Dolphins' entire offseason, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield.