Will the Dolphins load up along the offensive line in 2022 NFL draft?
Two months ago, most Miami fans would have thought you had their record backward if you told them the Dolphins would be 1-6 through the first seven games.
But the defense has struggled, Tua has had more downs than ups, and the team traded away its own first-round pick. When the best thing fans have going for them is a potential trade for one of the most polarizing players in the league, it’s easy to see why Dolphins fans are miserable right now.
But a good draft can do a lot to right the ship – as long as the team gets more out of its rookie class than it has in recent years.
Here are six players in Rounds 1 through 4 who would fill immediate needs for Miami:
Liam Eichenberg, the team’s second-round pick this year out of Notre Dame, has had more good moments than bad. And the move to left guard for 2020 first-rounder Austin Jackson seems to suit him. But the team can do better at just about every other position along the line, including right tackle, currently manned by Jesse Davis, an undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Idaho.
Petit-Frere would fit right in and would be back at the same right tackle spot he started for at Ohio State before transitioning this season to the left side. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior hasn’t allowed a QB hit in over 500 pass-blocking attempts since 2019, according to PFF. Last season, he allowed a pressure on just 0.5 percent of OSU’s pass attempts, per PFF. From Fansided’s Scarlet and Game: “Petit-Frere is exceptionally athletic and light on his feet. He’s strong, rarely gets out-muscled, and is very good with his hands. He uses all of those physical skills to control defenders equally well in pass and run blocking. You’re starting to hear rumblings of him possibly pushing into the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.” Likewise, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline isn’t sold on the tackle as a first-round prospect – yet. Pauline named Petit-Frere as a riser in his recent prospect stock report, saying he “has displayed consistent development in his game the past three seasons and grades as a Day 2 selection.” Other analysts, though, disagree and list Petit-Frere as the second- or third-best OT and a definite Day 1 selection.
Either way, solidifying the team’s offensive line should go a long way toward evaluating QB Tua Tagovailoa and whether he’s the long-term answer at the position.
— College Football Network (@CFN365) October 24, 2021
Miami turns to Columbus, Ohio once again for its second-round pick – and it would be quite a coup for the Dolphins if Wilson falls this far. The 6-foot, 192-pound junior has 36 receptions for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns this season, giving him a line of 109-1,760-17 (and counting) for his career. PFF had Wilson going to New Orleans at pick No. 21 overall in its most recent mock draft, so it’s debatable whether Wilson will still be there near the top of Round 2. PFF, though, thinks the 2022 receiver class is deep and diverse enough that “someone is going to be picked lower than what same fans think is appropriate.” One thing is for sure, though: Wilson would fill an immediate need for the Dolphins and would be another tool in the toolbox for a young, still-developing quarterback. Keep in mind, Will Fuller, Albert Wilson and Preston Williams (restricted) will all be free agents at the end of the season.
From PFF: “Regardless of where his name is in the order, Wilson is a very talented former five-star wide receiver who brings NFL athleticism to the field every time he suits up on Saturdays. He’s a mesh-route machine when it comes to yards after the catch, and he also shows great body control and quick feet when running routes deeper down the field.”
Garrett Wilson is one of my favorite receivers in the entire country. He’s also a favorite of mine to retain the WR1 title for the 2022 draft.
— Jared Feinberg (@JRodNFLDraft) October 22, 2021
This is a slight reach here, but the Dolphins can’t hope that Joseph or Arkansas’ Jalen Catalon are still available late in the third when they pick again. And, if the Atlanta-Kyle Pitts debacle proves anything, it’s that Miami needs a long-term answer at safety.
When the season started, this would have seemed like too low of a pick for Joseph after the 6-foot-1, 192-pound redshirt sophomore intercepted six passes last season. But thus far, Joseph has just one INT and has given up too many first downs in coverage, prompting PFF to name him as one of the season’s most disappointing players earlier this month. But Joseph has picked things up since the Sept. 25 game against Ohio, when he snagged his first INT of the season. Since then, Joseph tied a career-high with 10 tackles against Nebraska, garnered a career-high two passes defended against Rutgers, then set a new career-high in tackles with 12 against Michigan, along with his first sack of the season.
Overall, Joseph has a career-high 52 tackles, giving him 102 for his career (and counting).
Joseph is also dangerous in the return game, as he’s returned four punts this season for 114 yards, a whopping 28.5 average per return.
You saw that blitz, right?
Three players from Ohio State? That would equal the number of Buckeyes the Dolphins have drafted since 2017. Thayer, though, is just too talented at this point in the draft to pass up, plus the former left tackle offers positional flexibility. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound super senior has started 40 games over the past four seasons and 52 of 57 in his time at Ohio State.
Munford would also likely step in for Robert Hunt, who has struggled at times since the Dolphins drafted him in the second round out of Louisiana in 2020. And if Eichenberg struggles after a fairly solid start? Then the team could move Munford to LT, a position he’s comfortable with.
Thayer Munford says he feels great physically and mentally.
Munford says it was a struggle moving to left guard at first, but that he’s happy he made the move. pic.twitter.com/T37C8SrBdC
— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) October 20, 2021
Round 4: Edge David Ojabo, Michigan
The questions surrounding the 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with experience – or lack thereof. Ojabo was the team’s Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman but didn’t take the field. He then played sparingly in all six games last season but only registered a tackle in one game. It wasn’t until this year that Ojabo has been able to show what he can do. His 5 sacks tie him for the team lead with his more highly rated teammate, Edge Aidan Hutchinson.
He’s also expected to shine at the Combine, should he enter the draft. Born in Nigeria and raised in Scotland, Ojabo won the New Jersey prep 2018 100-meter title with a blazing speed of 10.93 and has allegedly run a 23.55 200-meter dash. FanNation’s Browns Digest says Ojabo could have a better long-term outlook than Hutchinson: “Based off of his track and field accomplishments and his explosiveness on tape, there is good reason to believe Ojabo will test off the charts should he declare and attend the NFL Scouting Combine. This will make him an appealing target for the analytics-driven front office.” Keep in mind, Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads Miami with 2.5 sacks, is a free agent at the end of the season.
David Ojabo with the fantastic play here. This is only my second game I’ve watched of him but he’s a terror. pic.twitter.com/eXJtl2qAyz
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) October 22, 2021
Round 4: C Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
While center isn’t priority No. 1 along the offensive line, Miami could certainly use an upgrade. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior has experience all over the interior of the line, starting all three positions, and he entered the year with just one sack allowed in 772 snaps over two seasons. He’s also praised for his zone and gap/power blocks, his pass protection and his demeanor on the field. From Texans Unfiltered: “… Stromberg plays with the tenacious attitude that teams need in the trenches and has numerous pancakes to his name.”
Although drafting three offensive linemen and a receiver in the first three rounds might seem excessive, it would provide the Dolphins with more protection for Tagovailoa – or whoever Miami’s starting QB is in 2022.
Ricky Stromberg anchors the @RazorbackFB o-line in the 2021 season, only allowing 2 pressures on 159 pass blocking snaps. The #rimingtonwatchlist center has a 73.5 @pff_college offensive grade and a 73.5 run blocking grade. pic.twitter.com/8fvXy1jipj
— Rimington Trophy (@rimingtontrophy) October 15, 2021