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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Free agency made its mark. Players were added, the team was improved. We gained tons of talent on the offense and retained significant players on the defensive side of the ball. Then, the trade for Tyreek Hill. Next, Dolphins fans everywhere watched the draft unfold with limited expectations due to the fact that the Dolphins were the first team ever to not have ANY of their own original picks at the time of the draft, and only chose players in the 3rd, 4th, and two in the 7th rounds of the 2022 draft.
So what do we have to feel good about? Here are 3 “Under the Radar” things that I think we as Dolphins fans should feel excited about going into the 2022-2023 season.
1. Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith
Frank Smith comes to us from the LA Chargers where he was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach. Previously in his career, he has served as tight ends coach (Raiders & Bears) and offensive line coach (Saints.) His experience and background give me reasons to be optimistic that our offense will seek to establish the running game as the cornerstone for the offense. We know that the head coach will call the plays, but the two seem to be a very good fit together in terms of overall philosophy. If he can help the offense become balanced, all the shiny new toys on offense will have a chance to really put pressure on opposing defenses.
2. Defensive continuity
Chris Grier brought the band back together, resigning most of the team’s free agent defensive players. If they can pick up where they left off and continue the growth that they made throughout last season, there is good reason to be optimistic here as well. Especially considering the growth and development we saw in the young players like Jevon Holland and Jalen Phillips, as well as continued development from Nik Needham, Christian Wilkins, and Raekwon Davis. I like the addition of Channing Tindall, though I think he’ll be strictly a situational role player at first. And of course, there will probably be some late free agent additions to bolster depth.
3. Pro-bowl caliber punting
It would be a mistake to underestimate the significance of signing punter Thomas Morstead. Throughout his career, Morstead has been one of the league’s top punters on a consistent basis. The difference in field position that he gives his team regularly translates to points on the scoreboard. Pin the opposing offense deep in their own territory and it makes it harder for them to score, and it also gives your own defense the ability to play very aggressively, hopefully providing a short field for your offense. Over a season, this may mean the difference between making the playoffs or staying at home.
Obviously, there are other reasons to be optimistic (Tyreek Hill, Teron Armstead, etc.) but these are some factors that may not be as immediately obvious. Hopefully, everything works out well for the new additions and we’re able to watch our Dolphins make a noise in the playoffs this year. Fins Up!
With only four picks in this draft, you can expect the grades to be up and down from the "experts". For those who wanted the Dolphins to draft a RB, GM Chris Grier said that they had one targeted but were foiled in their attempt as another team got him. I think the Dolphins got a steal by adding LT Kellen Diesch as an UDFA. Pro Football Focus graded him as a 3rd round talent, but his tall height at 6'7" and short arms made him too much of a risk for them. He's a freakish talent as he ran a 4.89 and will be excellent on swings in the running game. The important thing about this draft is that Chris Grier made up in his mind that the 2023 picks that he has accumulated were off-limits. Smart man.
Day 1 grade: B
Analysis: Miami did not have early picks because of trades for receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who are obviously very good players. But only time will tell whether the lost draft capital was too high a price to pay. The Dolphins were also without their original third-round selection after trading that pick last April to move up for offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg. However, they used a third-round compensatory pick acquired in the Trey Lance deal with the Niners to land a nice chase linebacker in Tindall.
With a fourth-round pick gained from a 2021 draft day trade with Pittsburgh, the Dolphins snagged Ezukanma, a reliable receiver without elite speed or quickness. Goode could play inside or outside for the Dolphins, as an instinctive player who fell under the radar at Cal. The Dolphins did not draft a center, potentially leaving Michael Deiter to handle those duties, but did find a potential backup signal-caller in the "toolsy" Thompson.
Top needs: OL, CB, LB
Most of the Dolphins' early draft capital in this class went to Kansas City in the trade for Tyreek Hill; general manager Chris Grier said his staff will "just watch Tyreek highlights" on Day 1 of the draft. So what did Miami get with the four picks it did have?
Linebacker Channing Tindall (102) could be a steal. I projected him to go early in Round 2, and the Dolphins landed him late in Round 3. He played in 50 games at Georgia but was behind Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker on the depth chart, which meant he never actually started a game. But when you put on the tape, he was flying around and making plays. He also tested off the charts at the combine for his size. Tindall found a great fit in Miami.
Wideout Erik Ezukanma (125) is 6-foot-2, but when I watched his film, I saw he dropped way too many passes. Linebacker Cameron Goode (224) could make the team as a situational edge rusher. Skylar Thompson (247) is a fun, late-round quarterback to try out, but he probably is a long shot to make the roster.
Dolphins fans are surely excited about adding Hill, but there's not a lot to rave about with this class, outside of Tindall.
ANALYSIS: This is a small class thanks to the Tyreek Hill trade, but it still managed to surprise me. While the Dolphins gobbled up another YAC wide receiver, they didn’t select a true Mike McDaniel running back or help the offensive line. The Thompson pick was interesting if it has any meaning beyond just a backup. Thompson is really athletic and has a kind of faster Carson Wentz-ian vibe to him. Could the pick be inferring that the Dolphins are going to run a good deal of zone read and want a QB versed in the system? Could Thompson be a special package guy? Should we just go to bed?
They had a draft-low four choices, though did pick up LB Channing Tindall (Round 3) from that championship Georgia defense. But GM Chris Grier spent this year's assets to pry WR Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs after previously ensuring he'd have a pair of first-rounders for a QB-rich 2023 draft ... just in case.
Day 1: Miami had no first-round pick after trading with Kansas City for receiver Tyreek Hill.
Day 2: Miami’s first pick in the draft came in the third round at No. 102 where they drafted linebacker Channing Tindall. He isn’t nearly as instinctual as his teammate Nakobe Dean, but man can the kid fly sideline to sideline. Blitz him consistently and never ask him to turn his back to the line of scrimmage, and Tindall is going to produce. This is a great fit in Miami.
Day 3: Erik Ezukanma brings some size (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) to the outside, which Miami needed after dealing DeVante Parker. He put up over 600 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons at Texas A&M and averaged over 15.0 yards per reception over the course of his college career. Miami continues to add talent for Tua Tagovailoa to work with on offense.
The Dolphins were handcuffed into a quiet draft for GM Chris Grier and new coach Mike McDaniel given they gave up a total of five significant picks this year and the next for Tyreek Hill. Tindall did fill a need well to try to upgrade linebacker but there isn't anything else to see here with a developmental pass rusher and passer late.
Best pick (A-): LB Cameron Goode, California (R7, P224)
Worst pick (B-): LB Channing Tindall, Georgia (R3, P102)
Most interesting pick (B): WR Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech (R4, P125)
Best Pick: They waited to take a player until the third round because of trades, but they nailed their first pick taking linebacker Channing Tindall. He is a playmaker who will be better in the NFL than he was at Georgia.
Worst Pick: I didn't like the choice of receiver Erik Ezukanma from Texas Tech. Isn't this a team with a lot of receivers already? Why not another position?
The Skinny: They didn't pick until the third round because of trades, including to get Tyreek Hill. He was worth getting, so that helps this grade. And I love Tindall.
Favorite pick: Tindall
Tindall emerged last season as a playmaker on a super talented defense after spending most of his career prior to that on special teams. He's not yet facile in coverage and will need help getting lined up at times, but the top-shelf athleticism will ease his development. Miami can use more athletes like this to groom, and this was a need position. Really good value where they got him.
Least-favorite pick: Ezukanma
He was relatively consistent and productive year to year, and even made more downfield catches than you might imagine. But with average length and athleticism, he appears to have little upside, and good teams appeared to have little trouble taking Ezukanma out of games if they wanted to. It'll be an uphill climb to dent the WR depth chart.
Overall: Having used many of their picks as ammunition to acquire veteran talent, namely Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, this was never going to be a massive draft class for the Dolphins. So we’re factoring in the trade activity as a big piece of this puzzle. Adding value and athleticism with Tindall, that’s about where the actual draft excitement ended for Miami. Big picture, this was an important utilization of assets to make Miami better in head coach Mike McDaniel’s first season at the helm.
Biggest Steal: LB Channing Tindall (3rd Round, No. 102 overall)
Biggest Reach: None
Analysis: It’s hard to do much with only four picks, but the Dolphins kicked off their skinny class with a huge bargain in Tindall, who could have put up huge numbers anywhere else if he wasn’t buried behind the likes of Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker at Georgia. He’ll be a much more productive pro, and fills a big need in the Miami defense.
Best Pick: Channing Tindall, LB (102)
Wosrt Pick: Either 7th round pick
Analysis: Miami didn’t select until the third round because of their trades, but they got a good player in Channing Tindall. I do think it’s a huge problem that they didn’t get a decent offensive lineman, even with their limited picks. It was the biggest area of need for Mike McDaniel’s new-look offense, and they might regret not addressing it. With such a lean class there wasn’t really a “worst” pick, but both their 7th rounders were going to be UDFAs.
After trading multiple picks for Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins’ first pick didn’t come until late in the third round. The team grabbed a rotational Georgia linebacker in Channing Tindall, who’s raw but hyper athletic and explosive when flying downhill. Texas Tech receiver Erik Ezukanma is an intriguing mid-round pickup because of his run-after-the-catch talent, and Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson is a fine seventh round flier. Miami didn’t have much to work with and consequently didn’t come away with a whole lot in this draft. Dolphins fans can take solace in the idea that Tyreek Hill is a de facto member of this group (but I’m only including draft-day trades in this exercise).
The Miami Dolphins are seemingly trying to emulate the Los Angeles Rams' approach to the draft by trading many of their picks for established veterans.
The Dolphins pulled off a blockbuster trade this offseason, sending the No. 29 pick along with 2022 second- and fourth-rounders and 2023 fourth- and sixth-rounders to the Kansas City Chiefs for star wideout Tyreek Hill. That left Miami with only four picks to use this year.
Channing Tindall is the highlight of the class. His sideline-to-sideline speed should help him get on the field as a rookie. Part of that will be in sub-packages, but he should also be a factor on special teams.
The Dolphins took wideout Erik Ezukanma in the fourth round, but he didn't even make the top 200 on B/R's final big board. Luckily, they won't need him to make an immediate impact with all of the changes they've made to their receiver room this offseason.
With only four picks to work with, there’s not much work for me to do here. But I’ll admit that I was rather pleased to see Miami draft Channing Tindall, whom I had them drafting in my final three-round mock draft.
Linebacker is where the Dolphins needed to improve the most, and the Georgia Bulldog fits the bill. The linebacker finished as PFF’s eighth-highest-graded linebacker in 2021 and tested off the charts at the Combine. Miami got a steal with Tindall’s sure tackling and imposing presence outside the top 100 picks.
After that, there’s not much to go on. Erik Ezukanma is a protypical special teams wide receiver who will add value to his real-life NFL team but is someone to ignore in fantasy.