4. Jaelan Phillips
Jaelan Phillips is a player who will fit more in to the long term plans of the Miami Dolphins, but he could make an impact right away and help the team contend this season. Phillips was one of the most highly touted pass rushers in the 2021 Draft, and he fell all the way to the Dolphins at #18 due in large part to his history of concussions. But if he is able to overcome the ailments, he could be one of the finalists for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
He caused havoc in opposing backfields while playing for the University of Miami last season, and will fill a glaring need for a pass rusher on Flores’ defense. If he is able to produce somewhere between six and eight sacks on the season along with a few tackles for loss, the Dolphins’ defense should continue their upward swing.
3. Will Fuller
One of the most underrated acquisitions of the off-season may be the Dolphins signing of slot receiver Will Fuller.
The sixth-year wide out will provide Tagovailoa with reliable hands and a deep threat that will take the top off of defenses. Fuller will not only see plenty of targets himself, but his presence can open up the middle of the field for Miami and give the quarterback added space to work with. His 16.3 yards per touch was higher than any other Dolphins’ player last season.
2. Benardrick McKinney
Perhaps the most important off season addition, Benardrick McKinney will likely be a Week 1 starter at one of the most important positions on the field. Arriving in Miami via trade back in March, McKinney brings a pedigree to a linebacking unit that needs a veteran boost to lead the way for their young, talented starters. Jerome Baker is fresh off of signing an extension and Andrew Van Ginkel solidified his starting spot with a good showing last season, but McKinney has a Pro Bowl on his resume and a history of productive seasons as a starter with the Houston Texans. Should all three starters remain healthy throughout the season, it will be a huge boost to the defense, especially given the tight end talent that was added within the division.
McKinney played in just four games last season after being placed on the injured reserve list with a shoulder injury. Before that, he had missed just five games over the previous five seasons.
1. Jaylen Waddle
There is very little argument against Jaylen Waddle’s case for being the Dolphins’ most important off-season acquisition. Miami spent their prized top-10 pick on the wide receiver out of Alabama, and they are hoping that he can be the leading pass catcher on the team for years to come.
So why is Waddle’s presence so important for Miami for this upcoming season? His familiarity with former and now current teammate Tua Tagovailoa will be a huge factor in the quarterback’s progression and development. After throwing to practice squad-level players in a couple of games last season, Tagovailoa will no longer be handicapped by lackluster targets, and Waddle should play a big part in getting him comfortable in an all-important second season.