A central priority for the Dolphins brass this off-season was to add speed to the offense in order to create more dynamic plays in 2011. With the Dolphins first two selections in the draft, they addressed other needs: at center and at running back with the selections of Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas. Then in round four, the Dolphins were able to get speed and plenty of it, with Edmond Gates, one of the fastest players in draft.
How were the Dolphins able to get one of the most dynamic players in the draft in round four ? Well, a large part of it was that Edmond played at Abilene Christian University, a Division II program deep in the heart of Texas. With such an exciting game-changing player type of player coming from a school that is never on national television, there have been plenty of questions about Gates from Dolphin fans excited about what he can possibly bring to South Florida. The Finsiders have attempted to answer some of the questions about Gates by talking to those who watched all of his games at Abilene Christian.
Question: Will Gates be able to make the successful leap from a small school to the NFL?
What We Learned: Abilene Christian Head Coach Chris Thomsen told the Finsiders: “We get in a lot of I-formation; we’re more pro-style than most college teams. So he’s had to learn how to adjust splits and run different routes.” Thomsen also referenced the immediate impact of Johnny Knox coming from the Abiliene Christian offense to have success with the Bears, catching at least 45 passes in each of his first two seasons with Chicago while making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2009.
Gates also appears to have the all the intangibles to make the necessary improvements in his game at the NFL level. Grant Boone, the play-by-play broadcaster for Abilene Christian told us about Gates’ tremendous improvement during his time in college for a guy that was a high school basketball player, not a football player: “He began as a gimmick because of his speed, but what he evolved into over the last four years is a guy who learned how to be a receiver.” The stats back up Boone, as Gates’ put up 66 receptions for over 1,300 yards as a senior in 2010. Thomsen also speaks highly of Gates’ character: “He’s risen to everything that I’ve ever asked him to do. That’s what the Dolphins wanted to know- ‘is this guy going to be a sponge and be humble and work or is he a guy that’s going to come in and act like knows already knows it all?’ And (Gates) is definitely a guy who’s hungry to be coached by people at the pro level and to be successful. I think he’ll learn quickly; he’s a guy that’s eager to learn, he’s a humble guy, his approach is whatever you’ll tell him he’s going to do.”
Question- Just how fast is Edmond Gates?
What We Learned: Boone told us “He basically ran the 40 at the combine on one groin, he was injured but still ran (4.37) what was tied for the fastest time of any wide receiver.” Also, he confirmed that Gates is faster than Johnny Knox, who also played at Abilene Christian and ran a 4.34 40-yd dash at his NFL combine. Gates’ dynamic speed will make him a factor in the return game and getting over the top of defenses, two areas in which the Dolphins were looking for help in. Gates may not get too many touches in his rookie year, but if he can make four or five game-changing plays on offense or special teams over the course of the season he will be well worth the fourth round pick that the Fins used on him.
• Boone also told us that Gates only fumbled once during four years at Abilene Christian
• Gates’ nickname is “Clyde,” something that everyone at Abilene Christian called him.
Contrary to popular belief, the Dolphins passing offense was able to move the chains in 2010, as the team passed for 189 first downs, which ranked 14th out of 32 NFL teams. However, the team struggled to put up points at times because of the lack of dynamic plays. The stats back this up as the Fins had only four passes of 40+ yards, 27th in NFL. Therefore, Gates can add the one element that the wide receiver unit was lacking: world-class speed. With Gates joining Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline in a talented receiving corps, it’s not a stretch to say this unit could develop into the strength of the offense in 2011.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.