Dolphins nab Notre Dame TE Durham Smythe in fourth round of NFL Draft

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Durham Smythe didn't have to wait long on Saturday.

The Miami Dolphins selected Notre Dame's graduate student tight end with the 123rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Smythe is the third Irish selection off the board, joining first round picks offensive guard Quenton Nelson (sixth overall to Indianapolis) and offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (ninth overall to San Francisco).

Miami also drafted Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki in the second round.

Smythe is the first Notre Dame tight end to be selected since Ben Koyack was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round in 2015. Five Irish tight ends have been drafted in head coach Brian Kelly’s eight-year tenure — Smythe, Koyack, Troy Niklas (second round to Arizona in 2014), Tyler Eifert (first round to Cincinnati in 2013) and Kyle Rudolph (second round to Minnesota in 2011).

In 41 career games at Notre Dame, Smythe — a 6-foot-6, 257-pound tight end — recorded 28 catches for 381 yards and six touchdowns. That included 15 catches, 244 receiving yards, 16.3 yards per catch and one touchdown in 13 starts in 2017.

But the reliable Irish tight end also made his name as an in-line blocker.

“His value lies in his ability to drive defenders off the ball,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said after Smythe was selected on Saturday.

The Belton, Texas, native, proved plenty durable in his final two seasons at Notre Dame, playing in his final 26 games after missing 10 games in 2015 due to shoulder and knee injuries.

He also improved his stock at the Senior Bowl in January, hauling in three catches for 48 yards — the highlight being a 27-yard touchdown grab from former Wyoming quarterback and Buffalo Bills seventh-overall pick Josh Allen.

“I thought that showed a lot, because that’s actual football. You’re actually strapping on pads and playing a game and practicing against some of the best in the country,” Smythe said of his Senior Bowl performance following the Irish Pro Day on March 22. “I think going out there and showing that I can compete with those guys and win reps against guys like that on a consistent basis really helped me.

“Being a guy that only had 15 catches last year, I think going out there and winning 1-on-1s and catching the ball in 7-on-7 really helped me a lot.”

Durham Smythe is a talented football player.

The future is bright for you, Durham, we're all excited to watch you succeed at the next level!

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) April 28, 2018

Welcome to Miami, Durham Smythe!

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 28, 2018

TEU!! Let’s go @D_Smythe80#gofins

— Nic Weishar (@NicWeishar82) April 28, 2018

Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe (80) makes a catch for a touchdown during the North Carolina State at Notre Dame NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA