The Miami Dolphins shuffled their offensive line depth today, signing rookie offensive tackle Matt Kopa to the active roster while waiving tackle Patrick Brown.
Brown, who was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets in September just before the Dolphins' Week 3 matchup with their division rival, leaves the Dolphins having spent all six games with the team inactive.
He is actually the second player signed by the Dolphins off San Francisco's practice squad in as many seasons, joining running back Kory Sheets, who was picked up last October when Patrick Cobbs went on injured reserve.
Kopa will wear No. 61 for the Dolphins and will work primarily at right tackle behind starter Vernon Carey.
An Elk Grove, Calif. native, Kopa redshirted at Stanford in 2005 before playing a variety of positions during his collegiate career.
After totaling three tackles as a defensive end and special-teams player in 2006, Kopa served as a backup defensive tackle and situational blocking tight end as a third-year sophomore in 2007.
Kopa transitioned to the offensive line in 2008, appearing in 11 games at right tackle, including five starts, before starting the team's final game of the year at left guard.
Although he entered his senior season as the Cardinal's starting right tackle, Kopa broke his left foot in the 2009 season opener against Washington State and was forced to miss the remainder of the season.
An appeal for a sixth year of eligibility due to injury hardship was denied by the NCAA, forcing Brown to enter the pro ranks.
The 49ers signed Kopa as an undrafted free agent in June, but was waived following the preseason and re-signed to the team's practice squad.
Kopa joins the Dolphins' active roster from the 49ers' practice squad, which is allowed as practice-squad players are free to sign with any NFL team, so long as it be to the new team's active roster.
Because he was signed directly off a practice squad, the Dolphins essentially must keep Kopa on the active roster for at least three weeks. They can technically waive him before that time, but they are not allowed to refill his roster spot until three weeks have lapsed.
Kopa is a raw prospect with limited college experience as an offensive lineman, and could have greatly benefited from another year at that level.
Nevertheless, he does a handful of likable qualities, with good size (6-6, 303), more than adequate strength, solid technique, football intelligence, and a good work ethic.
Kopa's athleticism is a bit limited and he seems unlikely to be able to handle the NFL's premier pass rushers, meaning he might be better suited for guard at the pro level.
He's definitely a developmental prospect and his upside may be limited, so he's definitely not someone that is likely to see NFL action in 2010.
Kopa will simply be hoping to remain on the active roster through the regular season, which, as we see with Patrick Brown, is never a lock.
He will likely spend game days inactive as long as he's on the roster this season, and will be hoping to earn an invite to training camp next year.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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