Dolphins WR Erik Ezukanma explains difficulty in jumping to the NFL
Last offseason, the Miami Dolphins made massive changes to their offensive skill positions, as they brought in established veterans like Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds.
They also spent a fourth-round pick on wide receiver Erik Ezukanma out of Texas Tech. With the talent ahead of him on the roster (Hill, Wilson and Jaylen Waddle), it was known that the rookie would likely be the fourth wideout, at best, on the depth chart.
However, for most of his rookie season, Ezukanma found himself as a healthy scratch. He appeared in just one game, recording one reception for three yards in the Week 18 matchup against the New York Jets.
Wide receivers coach Wes Welker explained during the season that Ezukanma’s absence on the field was partially due to some issues understanding the playbook and due to his role not necessarily being something they needed at the time.
After the season, the rookie discussed the transition to the NFL level from the Red Raiders’ offense.
“I was a rookie coming in,” Ezukanma told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “And in college you’re told to learn one position and know routes for that one position that you’re running. That’s kind of what I was expecting. It’s the NFL, a whole different world. Just like coming out of high school, I had to redshirt my first college year. It was one of those deals in a way. I feel like I’m a lot more mature then I was then obviously.”
When you’re making that leap from student-athlete to professional football player, understanding the coaching and really taking what they have to say is imperative. That’s something that he had to work on.
“The biggest curve for me was the listening part,” Ezukanma said. “In college, you’re trying to go as fast as possible and all you’re doing is learning imagery and learning a signal and lining up and knowing the route based off a signal.
“Most of the formations were spread, so I was always on the right side. In the NFL, there are a bunch of different packages, personnels, play calls, where you have to sit in the huddle and listen to each call and know what you’re doing with each call the second he says that. That’s the learning curve I’ve had to learn and I feel like I’ve grasped it pretty well.”
Heading into his second year, Ezukanma may be asked to do more in South Florida. Trent Sherfield and River Cracraft, who were both ahead of Ezukanma in terms of snap counts, are free agents, and Wilson could end up being traded after a down year as well. This would open up some real opportunities for the 23-year-old, and he needs to take advantage.
More Dolphins News and Notes!
WATCH: Xavien Howard mic'd up for Pro Bowl flag football