Brace yourselves Miami Dolphins fans, the 2022 season is only Junior Seau (R.I.P 55) days away!
Which also means tomorrow, we’ll be Zach Thomas days away from the season opener as Miami hosts New England at 1PM!
We’re one step closer to the gridiron as all rookies will report to training camp this week.
We still have some time before teams have to cut the roster down to 52, but in the meantime, here’s who I think will make an instant impact heading into 2022.
Let’s start with the most obvious. After the Miami Dolphins pulled off the Tyreek Hill heist with Kansas City, the team selected Channing Tindall with their first 3rd round selection of 2022. He was the first draft pick taken of the Mike McDaniel era and will have a strong chance to play and possibly make the starting lineup in week 1. The Dolphins linebacking core is one of their weaker units on the team and Tindall’s speed (4.5-40 yard dash) could prove to be a difference maker. He could line up on the weakside next to Jerome Baker along with Andrew Van Ginkel. Tindall had ones of the highest grades on the Georgia Bulldog defense that saw 5 defensive players drafted (NFL record) in the first round alone. Although Tindall wasn’t listed as a starter, he contributed 32 tackles and 5.5 sacks in a limited role. His hunger to be great could help find the Dolphins another solid playmaker on an already strong front 7.
2. Verone McKinley
One of the undrafted free agents Miami signed, like Verone McKinley, may have better paths to playing time if they shine in training camp. With the recent retirement of Jason McCourty, McKinley could find his way into the Dolphins lineup as either a backup safety or on special teams. McKinley recorded 77 tackles and six interceptions in his final season with Oregon. He was also a teammate of Dolphins safety Jevon Holland which can only help his chances. Nobody expects him to unseat Holland or Brandon Jones but his hard-hitting, playmaking ability could help be a monster steal and give Miami more depth at the position
3. Cameron Goode
Goode recorded 20.5 sacks over five seasons at California and finished with 6.5 last season. Although the Melvin Ingram signing might’ve stalled his path to stardom, Goode could still be one of the most impactful first-year players, either as a reserve linebacker, or by carving a role on special teams. He was taken in the 7th round of the 2022 draft (224 overall) and you know what they say about pass rushers, the more the merrier.
It’s possible that 4th round pick Erik Ezukanma could become the 4th receiver on this team. However, the rookie from Texas Tech will having to grind for playing time after most of the targets are expected to go to Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson. He will most likely have to outplay Preston Williams, Lynn Bowden, and River Cracraft to see the field in his first season, but his 6’3 205lb frame make him one of the bigger receivers on the roster. Expect a juicy training camp battle for the 4th and 5th WR spot.
For all Miami Dolphins training camp and team news, tune in to “No Name Defense” our newest Miami Dolphins podcast with Stephen Diener and Ryan Mackey!