Ranking the 2022 Miami Dolphins defensive line player by player

Miami Dolphins defensive end Zach Sieler (92) Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Dolphins defensive end Zach Sieler (92) Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins have some good talent on the defensive side of the ball but it all starts up front with the defensive line.

The last two Super Bowls have demonstrated the significance of a dominant defensive front on the NFL’s grandest stage. Aaron Donald and company made life tough for Joe Burrow in Super Bowl LVI. Similarly, the Buccaneers had Patrick Mahomes running for his life in what seemed like every offensive play in Super Bowl LV. Pressure-bust pipes and having consistent pressure from your defensive line can help the rest of the defensive unit immensely.

Heading into the 2022 season, PFF ranks the Dolphins defensive line middle of the pack at #15. The ranking seems just about right after the Dolphins were able to keep Emmanuel Ogbah and also added Melvin Ingram III. The emergence of Jaelen Phillips gives this unit the potential to crack the top 10 and potentially the top 5 defensive lines in football.

Emmanuel Ogbah
Emmanuel Ogbah Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

Enough talk about the unit as a whole, let’s break down the unit player by player.

Honorary mentions – Owen Carney (R), Ben Stille (R), and Jordan Williams (R). Carney, Stille, and Williams are undrafted free agents and will be competing this off-season to try to crack the 53-man roster.

 10- Benito Jones

Benito Jones has been with the Miami Dolphins since 2020. Jones has been up and down from the practice squad to the 53-man roster several times. Jones, last game action came in the 2020 season when he played 6 games and recorded two tackles with another tackle for loss. Jones is a big body at 6’1, 318 lbs, he figures to be a situational goalline plugger and will give Wilkins, Davis, Jenkins, and Sieler a breather whenever needed. Jones joined the Dolphins as an undrafted college free agent on April 29, 2020.

9- John Jenkins

John Jenkins is a veteran presence inside the defensive line room. Jenkins has been around the league since 2013 when he broke in with the Saints. Jenkins spent time with the Dolphins in 2019 before going to the Bears for the 2020 season and then rejoining the Dolphins last season. In the two seasons that Jenkins has been with the Dolphins, he has amassed 50 combined tackles with 1 sack. If you thought Benito Jones was a big body Jenkins is even bigger. Jenkins stands 6’3 and tips the scale at 335 lbs.  Jenkins seems to have a similar role to Jones but figures to get more actual playing time.

Miami Dolphins
Adam Butler (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

8- Adam Butler

Butler has the potential to become a starter in the NFL. He possesses a quick first step and has great hands. Also, Butler is as consistent as they come. Butler has played in 80 games in his first five seasons. Butler spent the last 4 seasons with the division-rival Patriots before coming over to Miami last season. Butler accumulated two sacks last season to go along with 17 tackles, two tackle-for-loss, and five qb hits.

7- Melvin Ingram III

If this was 2016 I would have been stoked about the signing. But unfortunately, we are in 2022 and not in 2016. So although I do like the signing as depth and more veteran leadership in the room, I am not quite sure where Ingram fits. Sure he is a three-time pro bowler, but over the past four seasons, Ingram has only four sacks and 27 QB hits. I hope I am wrong and Ingram can turn back time and become his former pro bowl self but if not, hopefully, he does not cut into the playing time of Van Ginkel and Phillips more than he needs to.

6- Andrew Van Ginkel

This is tricky for me. It was between Van Ginkel and Raekwon Davis. I ultimately gave Davis the edge due to everything he does that goes unnoticed and also his potential.

Van Ginkel was drafted in 2019 in the fifth round and has proven to be a great pick 3 years later. Although Van Ginkel didn’t see much action the year he got drafted he hit the ground running in 2020. Playing in all 16 games while starting 11. Totaling 48 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits while collecting 5.5 sacks. That is one heck of a season. Van Ginkel followed it up with a four-sack season while having 12 QB hurries and 14 QB hits.  Now with the emergence of Jaelen Phillips on the opposite end, I expect Van Ginkel to double his production and get near 8-10 sacks this upcoming season.

Raekwon Davis (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Raekwon Davis (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

5-Raekwon Davis

The potential Davis has is similar to his stature, MASSIVE! Standing at 6’7, 330 lbs Davis is a monster in the middle of the line. Davis has not only improved the entire line as a whole but he has helped tremendously in the run department. The stats won’t tell you much about his game but Davis consistently wins inside the trenches. Davis’s technique for his age is superb. He gets his hands inside his blocker and demonstrates patience to shed when he needs to. As a rookie Davis graded 71.1 per PFF. I expect Davis to build of his performance during the second half of the season and exceed or return to the level we saw him playing during his rookie season.

4- Zach Sieler

Zach Sieler has probably been the Dolphins most consistent player on the defensive line for the past two seasons. Sieler is not a household name such as Ogbah, Wilkins, or Phillips but Sieler can play. According to PFF, Sieler was the Dolphins top-rank defender at 84.9 edging out rookie Jevon Holland by.2. Sieler also ranked 3rd out of 109 eligible defensive tackles and had a 79.7 PFF grade against the run. Sieler is probably not going to wow us with double-digit sacks or many highlight plays but he consistently wins, disrupts the run game, and is consistent in every aspect of the game. The combination of Wilkins and Sieler has been incredible for the Dolphins.

Jaelan Phillips
Jaelan Phillips Miami Dolphins (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

3- Jaelan Phillips

This one was a tough choice for me. Phillips has the potential to be an all-pro caliber rusher. And although he finished half a sack behind Ogbah for the team lead, I need to see more consistency from Phillips in the run department before I give him the number 1 spot. Phillips was used primarily as a pass-rush specialist.  Phillips was on the field for 402 pass-rush snaps compared to 153 run defense snaps. He also graded weakly with a 44.8 grade against the run.

Let’s talk about why Miami chose to draft him with the 18th overall pick in last year’s draft. He can get after the QB. Phillips had at least half a sack or a QB hit in 5 consecutive games and during that span he had his first three-sack game. Phillips has all the physical traits you need as an edge rusher, 6’5, 266 lbs, explosive off the line, and powerful. He can easily average double-digit sacks for the next 10 years. We could revisit this list next year and easily have Phillips ranked #1 he is that special.

Miami Dolphins
Christian WilkinsMandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

2-Christian Wilkins

We finally saw the Christian Wilkins we all expected last season. After being drafted 13th overall by the Dolphins in 2019, Wilkins hasn’t played up to par. That is until last season. To be fair Wilkins has been doubled team often but that is still no excuse. Finally, Wilkins made an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Totalling 4.5 sacks, 89 total tackles, and 49 solo tackles ranking 2nd only behind Cameron Hayward while adding 13 tackles for loss and 10 QB hits.

Wilkins also finished the season with a PFF ranking of 83.3 and an 80.8 grade against the rush but his biggest improvement was as a pass rusher ranking 80th percentile on “true” pass rushes last season compared to the 29th percentile across his first two NFL seasons. Wilkins was ranked 6th out of 109 eligible defensive tackles. If Wilkins can continue to improve, look for the Dolphins defense to improve again this year.

Emmanuel Ogbah(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Emmanuel Ogbah(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

1- Emmanuel Ogbah

This year, The Nigerian Nightmare is at the top of the list. Ogbah just had back-to-back seasons with 9 sacks. The Dolphins gave Ogbah a four-year, $65 million contract extension because he has done so well for the team. To do well in this league, you need pressure off the edge. Enter Emmanuel Ogbah. In 2021, he had 9 sacks, 12 pass deflections, 15 QB hurries, and 13 QB knockdowns, which put him in 14th place in the NFL.

Last season, Ogbah’s PFF was 66, but this season it is 77.  Ogbah is fast enough to get around offensive tackles and chase down fast quarterbacks. He is also strong enough to quickly move past blocks and make plays in the backfield. In two seasons with the team, he has 18 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and 45 quarterback hits.