The Miami Dolphins took major strides during the 2022 season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Along with the major additions of receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle over the past couple of seasons, the 2022 season also represented a major turning point for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in his first year in head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Just a few days ago, the Dolphins announced they would be picking up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option, something that by no means was a given heading into last season.
However, as Miami looks forward to the 2023 season, they still have some way to go to be a perennial playoff team and eventual Super Bowl contenders. Improving their passing defense was one of their biggest needs that came up last season, and the team has already made some major moves to address that.
Ahead of the midseason trade deadline, the Dolphins acquired edge rusher Bradley Chubb from the Denver Broncos, and early on Sunday afternoon, they brought in three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.
Miami addressed some major roster needs with those trades for a couple of elite talents, but in doing so, the Dolphins now find themselves with just four picks in the upcoming draft. They can still fill some of their needs with those picks though, so using the beta version of our Mock Draft Machine, here’s what a seven-round draft could look like for the Dolphins.
Round 2 (No. 52 overall): Trenton Simpson LB, Clemson
The Dolphins tried to upgrade their linebacker unit when they drafted linebacker Channing Tindall in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. However, Tindall played just nine snaps on defense during the entirety of his rookie season, and Miami’s linebacker corps is not any better off than it was about a year ago.
Simpson is one of the best linebackers in the coming draft class with seriously impressive athleticism at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash—the second-fastest time by a linebacker at this year’s NFL Combine—which shows up on tape in the form of his range in pass coverage and run pursuit. He has clear upside to play as a three-down ‘backer for Miami. Paired with his explosiveness and “finisher” mentality, Simpson would be a big upgrade for the Dolphins’ defense.
Round 3 (No. 85 overall): Kenny McIntosh RB, Georgia
One of Miami’s biggest offensive weaknesses in 2022 was their inability to run the football effectively. The Dolphins were a bottom-10 team in the league in both rush yards per game and rushing yards per attempt as a team. As high-flying as their passing offense can be when Hill, Waddle, and Tagovailoa are clicking, opposing defenses shut down their scoring potential when they committed to stopping the pass. If that weren’t enough of a reason to draft a running back, there’s the fact that Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Myles Gaskin are all set to hit free agency this week.
McIntosh has proven he has lead back upside as he averaged over 5.5 yards per carry as the Bulldogs’ starting running back in 2022. One of the biggest traits McIntosh would bring is his pass-catching ability, something that at the very least brings a ton of value to a backfield, even as an RB2 or third-down back.
Round 6 (No. 180 overall): Zack Kuntz TE, Old Dominion
Mike Gesicki is set to hit free agency and the Dolphins just traded Hunter Long to the Rams as part of the Ramsey trade. Kuntz is a supremely athletic tight end that likely just saw his draft stock skyrocket after the NFL Combine, akin to what now-Colt Jelani Woods did last year. The Old Dominion product ran a 4.55 40-yard dash—only slower than Miami’s Will Mallory at the Combine—and led all tight ends with his 40-inch vertical leap, 10-foot-8-inch broad jump and tied for the lead with 23 reps on the bench press.
In addition to his exciting athletic upside, some of Kuntz’s best traits are his ball skills and route-running. Kuntz could be another super athletic pass-catching weapon in an offense that’s already full of them.
Round 7 (No. 240 overall): Cory Durden IDL, NC State
Nose tackle Raekwon Davis will be a free agent after the 2023 season and has taken a step back since his monster rookie season. Durden is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound run stuffer that also has upside as a bull-rushing pass-rusher. He’s played from the 5-technique into true nose tackle across his years in college and could be the Dolphins’ developmental nose for a year before stepping into a bigger role after his rookie season.
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