Will Miami have better luck finding an OL in the 2022 NFL draft?
Miami has drafted 10 wide receivers and 12 defensive linemen since 2012.
But that’s not the position the Dolphins have focused on the most over the past 10 drafts. That would be offensive line, of which Miami has drafted 14 players over that time.
And most of those players were drafted in the first three rounds, including three each in the first, second and third rounds.
And yet, Miami still had one of the worst offensive lines this season.
Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg was the latest example. Miami drafted him this past draft in the second round with the No. 42 overall pick. The good news? Eichenberg took 96 percent of the team’s snaps on offense this season, or 1,109 snaps, both of which were second on the team.
The bad news? Eichenberg received a Pro Football Focus grade of 50.7, which placed him 13th out of 15 rookie tackles with at least 100 snaps.
But Eichenberg didn’t even have the lowest PFF score. That would be 2020 first-round tackle Austin Jackson, who has since converted to guard. Jackson’s final score was 49.9. The other starters along the Miami line fared slightly better, including center Michael Deiter (60.6), right guard Robert Hunt (67.4) and right tackle Jesse Davis (52.5).
So, on the one hand, you could make a strong argument that Miami needs to find several pieces along the offensive line – regardless of who’s playing quarterback next season.
On the other hand, it won’t matter what round the team drafts a lineman if those draftees continue to underperform.
And there’s another problem: The top-five-rated tackles could be gone by the time Miami drafts at pick No. 26 overall. Alabama’s Evan Neal (ranked No. 3 in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board), N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu (No. 9), Mississippi State’s Charles Cross (No. 12), Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere (No. 30) and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning (No. 32) are all rated as potential first-round picks.
Since OT is considered a premium position, the Dolphins might have to wait until the second round to draft a tackle – and even then, the best remaining ones come with some question marks and could be gone. Miami has the No. 18 pick in the second round.
Here are four OT options that could be available. All but one of these players would be considered a reach if drafted in the first round, but if Miami is desperate enough, they could still pull the trigger on one of them.
Round 1 candidate:
OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M: The 6-foot-4, 325-pound junior could fall to the later part of Round 1 or even the top half of Round 2, mainly because his primary position is at guard. However, Green was used all over the line this past season and wound up playing every position but center. Therefore, it’s feasible that Miami drafts Green and starts him at right tackle – his primary position this past season. Green would also be a candidate to start at either guard spot.
LG Kenyon Green
Round 1/Round 2 candidate:
OL Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan: The former tight end was recently ranked as the No. 5 OT by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. Therefore, he could be long-gone by the time Miami is back on the clock in Round 2. Listed at 6-foot-7, 305-pounds, the junior has only played tackle since the 2020 season, as he was a tight end to start his collegiate career. The Austria native started 11 games at TE his first two seasons, catching 20 passes for 164 yards. He’s also been listed as a potential candidate to move to guard.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 28, 2021
Round 2 candidates:
OL Tyler Smith, Tulsa: Like Green and Raimann, the 6-foot-6, 332-pound redshirt sophomore could transition to guard. He was a bit of an under-the-radar player until declaring for the draft. Now, he’s an ascending prospect who could wind up being selected on Day 1. He’s been called a physically imposing player who is relatively fluid for his size.
OT Tyler Smith
OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota: The 6-foot-9, 380-pound senior from Melbourne, Australia is likely the biggest player in the 2022 draft. And therein lies the conundrum: Is he too big to fend off smaller, faster edge rushers? The latest scouting report on Faalele from The Bleacher Report goes deeper into those issues. Otherwise, Faalele is surprisingly smooth and mobile for a player his size.
Minnesota brought in the big man to score