Dolphins 2022 Draft Grades
The Miami Dolphins entered the 2022 NFL Draft with one of the leanest crops of draft capital at their disposal in recent memory. And when the weekend had come and gone, the Dolphins finished the 2022 NFL Draft with one of the leanest crops of draft capital in recent memory. Not even the slightest move up the board would be conducted—although Dolphins general manager Chris Grier did indicate that the team placed some calls in the third round about potentially moving up the board. But the team’s premium draft capital for 2023 was considered off the table and “non-negotiable”, leaving Miami with just picks 102, 125, 224, and 247 to supplement the team’s budding roster and to evaluate for the Dolphins 2022 draft grades.
“We had discussions about multiple players that we were trying to move up. Teams wanted to make their picks at the spots we had a real chance of moving up to and we were not going to give up any picks from the 2023 draft, the upcoming draft class. For us, those were non-negotiable. We made a couple of calls and stood where we were. We’re glad we ended up with Channing (Tindall),” said Grier on Friday night.
Tindall would be joined by WR Erik Ezukanma, LB Cameron Goode, and QB Skylar Thompson to forge Miami’s smallest NFL draft class in franchise history. How does this group fit the new Dolphins vision under head coach Mike McDaniel? Let’s take a look.
Dolphins 2022 Draft Grades
Round 3 (No. 102 overall): Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
I love the fit of Channing Tindall within the Dolphins’ defense. Miami made the decision to run back nearly their entire LB corps this offseason in the name of continuity and to allow the team to build upon the foundation set by former head coach Brian Flores. That in itself is good process. Indeed, Miami’s defensive identity helped push the team to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in two decades and making dramatic scheme changes to a fairly skill-specific depth chart would undoubtedly manufacture self-inflicted regression.
So we know Miami’s goal is to maintain the defensive identity from seasons past, so how does Tindall fit into the picture?
He’s a high-ceiling, explosive defender with length and surreal explosive ability. Tindall tested in the 95th percentile or better in the 40-yard dash, the vertical, and the broad jump at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine while also offering a 1.55s 10-yard split (87th percentile). And when you factor that explosiveness with a profile that featured just 133 defensive snaps in 2019 and 2020 combined before playing on 474 defensive snaps in 2021, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that Tindall can continue to grow into a more dynamic playmaker in the NFL.
The man most put on notice with the selection of Tindall is incumbent MIKE linebacker Elandon Roberts. Roberts is nowhere near as dynamic or rangy as Tindall and has struggled the past two seasons in Miami with finishing as a tackler. That’s where Tindall’s 7.4% missed tackle rate really pops. Seven missed tackles over his last 549 snaps is a steep contrast to Roberts’ 14 missed tackles last season and 11 the year before that (in which he only played 402 snaps).
Tindall’s ability to supplant Roberts may ultimately end up mirroring the path of SAF Jevon Holland, who was a rotational player for the first month of 2021 for the Dolphins before the dynamic physical skills became too difficult to keep off the field. He replaced veteran DB Jason McCourty in Week 5 and never looked back. The same may prove to be true for Tindall and Roberts in the next six months.
Round 4 (No. 125 overall): Erik Ezukanma, WR, Texas Tech
Eat your heart out, DeVante Parker fans. What if I told you that one of the most physically similar players to the athletic profile of Ezukanma is actually the wide receiver Miami just parted ways with earlier this spring: Parker.
The Dolphins’ wide receiver remodel is very much a full rebuild—with the only guaranteed holdover to be 2021 1st-round pick and record-setting receiver Jaylen Waddle. Aside from that? Yes, we’d like to think McDaniel will enjoy getting creative with third-year player Lynn Bowden Jr. but he spent the 2021 season on injured reserve. Only Preston Williams returns amid the rest of Miami’s pass-catchers (although this pick appears to put him on notice).
Miami surprised many by deciding to let Mack Hollins walk in free agency only to re-sign Williams instead, who has missed half of two of his first three seasons, offers zero appeal on special teams, and is among the least dynamic outside receivers in football when measuring separation at the catch point. Ezukanma offers a big-body, physical presence on the outside to compete with Williams for valuable playing time on early downs or as a player who can help win above the rim and as a blocker in the run game.
Round 7 (No. 224 overall): Cameron Goode, LB, Cal
Consider Goode to be a developmental pass rusher. Miami struck gold with the decision to draft an undersized, developmental rusher in 2019 when they landed Andrew Van Ginkel out of Wisconsin, who has become a reliable role player who offers speed off the edge. Consider that your best-case scenario for Goode as a Miami defender.
Goode has been productive (20.5 career sacks and 36.0 career TFL) and is explosive (39” vertical and 10’05” broad jump). That’s a nice foundation for a seventh-round pick and a roll of the dice to bet on the traits.
Goode will need to prove himself on special teams first and foremost but appears to have the foundation to succeed in this regard. Look for him to push Brennan Scarlett for special teams reps and potential third-down opportunities.
Round 7 (No. 247 overall): Skylar Thompson, QB, Kansas State
Relax, Dolphins fans. There is no quarterback competition brewing. There is no backhanded insult in drafting Skylar Thompson in the seventh round. Miami’s young, developmental passer at this time last year was Reid Sinnett, but he got plucked upon roster cutdowns at the end of the preseason. Miami will enter this season paying a premium for a backup quarterback for the second consecutive year—one year after paying Jacoby Brissett the team is now paying Teddy Bridgewater. The Dolphins would benefit greatly from having a developmental passer in-house and seeing if they can groom him into a backup role.
What I like about the Thompson selection is you avoid some of the challenges presented with Tua Tagovailoa’s unique skill set. He’s a very quick-twitch, fast release, and real-time decision-maker in the RPO game. Those skills don’t exactly mesh with Teddy Bridgewater’s game on a 1-for-1 ratio and I can’t think of a more polar set of opposite skills than Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett. You avoid that conflict by having a player like Thompson in the building, who can execute many of the same concepts and has them as a more prominent part of his game coming out of Kansas State.
You can see the vision here for the Dolphins and the thought process with each selection is sound and logical. I don’t think the Dolphins have drafted anyone with an unfair role or vision in mind, at least from the outside looking in. That said, no picks in the top-100 puts a bit of a glass ceiling on the expectations for the class as a whole, as I’d set the line at two members of the class to actually make the 53-man roster. And one of those, Ezukanma, is likely to be the fourth wide receiver in the pecking order at best. That said, I certainly do expect to see Tindall supplant Roberts sooner rather than later. And that in itself is a huge win for Miami’s defense.
When you trade two top-50 picks for WR Tyreek Hill, you know what you’re getting. An All-Pro talent and a lean draft class. Miami did well with what they had at their disposal; I just don’t think we should expect too much too soon given the picks Miami had to work with.
Overall Grade: B
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