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NFL Draft: Josh Carraway a fast late-round pass rusher for Dolphins

Josh Carraway’s father, Glenn, was a college basketball player at Texas-San Antonio who went on to an international career and wanted nothing more than for his son to follow a similar path on the hardwood. That looked like a possibility, too, when he saw how big his kid was. But the dream didn’t last long.

“I just wasn’t good enough to play basketball,” Carraway said. “So I stuck to hitting people.”

That worked out just fine for him. Carraway developed into one of the most productive defensive ends in Texas Christian’s history and is expected to be a late-round pick in the NFL Draft this month. Many teams, including the Dolphins, have met with him to discuss whether he’d fit at defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level.

Miami needs both. As of now, the third linebacker spot after Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons is up for debate, and the team’s long-term plan at end could use more depth. While Andre Branch just signed a three-year deal, Cameron Wake is 35 and backup William Hayes is a free agent at the end of the season.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said he prefers not to make the team’s picks based on a prioritized list of positional needs, but they might have to this year. Miami has picks No. 22 and 54, then a compensatory pick in the third at 97 overall. It gets thin from there with the team’s remaining four selections falling 166th or later.

If he sticks around long enough, Carraway is a decent bet with one of those Day 3 picks. He left TCU with 19 career sacks, seventh all-time, and believes he could transition smoothly to linebacker if needed. He said Miami is one of the teams interested in whether he could work as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense.

“I don’t care about playing both,” said Carraway, who is training at IMG. “Throughout this whole process, I’ve been doing a lot of linebacker drills and working on being able to work in space. Whatever team drafts me, they’re gonna get a versatile guy.”

He’s slightly undersized for an NFL defensive end at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds — Wake, Branch and Hayes each top 260 — and said multiple teams have mentioned that to him. However, he’d be fine at that build if he shifts to linebacker.

“Several boxes go unchecked for Carraway, but his outstanding athleticism and potential as an edge rusher will provide draft value,” draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. “He will require patience and much more technique work, but he does possess NFL traits as a developmental prospect.”

ESPN categorizes him as an outside linebacker in its prospect grades and ranked him ninth at the position. Draft website Walter Football has him 20th among defensive ends, projected to go in the fourth, fifth or sixth round.

At the NFL Combine last month, he was top-15 among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.74 seconds), broad jump (10 feet) and bench press (25 reps at 225 pounds).

“I’ve got great speed,” Carraway said. “I just need to get used to the speed of the game at the next level and the strength of the guys. My technique is gonna have to be on point.”

Carraway’s breakthrough came as a red-shirt junior, when he established himself as a full-time starter for the Horned Frogs and put up nine sacks. He followed that with eight sacks as a senior. Over his final two years at TCU, he totaled 96 tackles, including 22.5 for lost yardage, and forced two fumbles. He was all-conference both of those seasons.

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