The Miami Dolphins 2022 rookies that should see more playing time
In 2022, the Miami Dolphins had just 4 selections in the NFL draft. With those picks, they selected Georgia Linebacker Channing Tindall, Texas Tech Wide Receiver Erik Ezukanma, the University of California Linebacker Cameron Goode, and Kansas State Quarterback Skylar Thompson.
The Dolphins also had three undrafted rookie free agents make the team in 2022. Those players were Cornerback Kader Kohou out of Texas A&M Commerce, Safety Verone McKinley III from the University of Oregon, and Tight End Tanner Conner from Idaho State.
Of these seven rookies Kader Kohou ended up getting the most playing time in 2022 with 883 defensive snaps and 1 special team snap during the regular season and playoff game. Skylar Thompson played 268 offensive snaps including the playoff game against Buffalo.
Verone McKinley III ended up getting significant snaps as the season progressed. He had 235 defensive snaps and 2 special teams’ snap. Channing Tindall played almost exclusively on special teams in 2022 getting 185 snaps there while getting 9 defensive snaps. Tanner Conner played 22 snaps on offense and 152 special teams snaps. Erik Ezukanma played very little and received 10 offensive snaps in the season. Cameron Goode spent the entire 2022 season on the practice squad and played no snaps. All snap counts are per Rotowire.com.
Of these seven rookies who are likely to see the biggest increases in playing time during the 2023 season?
With the addition of Jalen Ramsey, Kader Kohou is likely to find himself playing more of a nickel-back role than he did in 2022. If he is able to stay healthy, his snap count is likely to be similar to his 2022 numbers. As Kohou is a very sure tackler, I would not be surprised to see him included in more punt and kickoff coverage plays in 2023.
Nothing against Skylar Thompson but, the hope is that Tua Tagovailoa will be healthier and Thompson will not be needed in 2023.
Verone McKinley III will likely be competing with DeShon Elliott, Elijah Campbell, and Brandon Jones for a time as the safety opposite Javon Holland. I expect that McKinley will see an increase in his special team snap count but, will likely not see a major increase in his defensive snap count unless Elliott or God forbid if Holland gets injured.
Despite having played Wide Receiver in College, Tanner Conner showed a willingness and the ability to be a good blocker during the 2022 preseason. Considering that Conner ran a 4.37 forty-yard dash and had a 39.5-inch vertical jump (per draftwire.usatoday.com) it seems that it would be beneficial to get him on the field more. I expect the Dolphins to give him every opportunity to see meaningful offensive snaps this season. His athleticism should also get him more special team snaps.
Another player, who the Dolphins have to be hoping steps up and earns additional snaps in 2023 is Erik Ezukanma. In 2022, Ezukanma reportedly struggled with learning the playbook. If he can master the plays perhaps Ezukanma can become the 3rd or 4th Wide Receiver option for the Dolphins this year.
As Cameron Goode spent the entire 2022 season on the practice squad and did not receive a single snap in a regular season game, any playing time for him would be increased. However, Goode’s athleticism is undeniable and he may well flourish under Vic Fangio’s system. SI.com reported that Goode had a 39-inch vertical leap and 4.58 forty-yard dash time at last year’s University of California pro day. This level of elite athleticism should at least get Goode some special team snaps in 2023. He is an interesting player who could be used at multiple linebacker positions. If the Dolphins are fortunate, he will be ready to step up and help the defensive unit.
The player that seems most ready to take a major step forward in 2023, is the player who was drafted highest by the Dolphins in 2022. Channing Tindall has the skill set to step up and be one of the Dolphins’ top three Middle Linebackers in 2023. Tindall ran a blazing 4.47-second forty-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical leap at the 2022 the University of Georgia pro day (per bleacherreport.com).
Tindall’s biggest negative coming out of college was that he had only played one season with significant playing time while at Georgia. Unfortunately, the nine defensive snaps that he played in 2022 did not add much to his playing experience.
The hope is that a season spent learning assignments and practicing with the scout team will have him ready to step up in a big way. To this point in the season, the Dolphins’ roster construction seems to show some confidence in the progress that Tindall is making. At the time of the writing of this story, the Dolphins only have 4 players on the roster who are likely to play inside linebacker. David Long and Jerome Baker are the expected starters with Duke Riley and Tindall as the backups.
I expect the Dolphins to bring in another couple of inside linebackers to add depth to that position but it does look like there is a great opportunity for Tindall to get a lot more playing time during the 2023 season. If he has the ability to step up, the Dolphins should find themselves in a pretty good position as far as inside linebackers go.