Where does Lynn Bowden Jr. fit on the Dolphins roster?

With a new coaching regime in Miami, Lynn Bowden has a shot to make the roster, The question is, what is Lynn Bowden’s fit on the Dolphins roster?

Last year I wrote about how Lynn Bowden Jr, would be an X factor in Miami. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Bowden was placed on season ending IR.

Fit as a wide receiver

Currently listed as a wide receiver in Miami, Lynn Bowden Jr. played only 10 games his rookie season. Of those 10 games, Bowden started in four games for Miami.

Bowden played a big role for the Dolphins offense down the stretch in the 2020 season, catching 27 passes for 212 yards (7.9 avg.) in the final five games.

In the Dolphins offense, Lynn Bowden Jr. is a rare talent. He can line up out wide, in the slot, as a running back, or a wildcat quarterback.

Within this new Dolphins offense; however, Lynn Bowden Jr. is not the rarity. Receivers like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Erik Ezukanma can do everything Bowden does.

Frankly, the Miami Dolphins wide receiver roster is loaded with versatile talent:

  • Tyreek Hill
  • Jaylen Waddle
  • Cedrick Wilson
  • Erik Ezukanma
  • Preston Williams
  • Lynn Bowden Jr.
  • Cody Core
  • River Cracraft
  • DeVonte Dedmon
  • Braylon Sanders

While Bowden Jr. will see some snaps at receiver if he is kept on the roster, will it be enough to make a sizable impact?

In 2020, Bowden logged 9.6% target percentage when he was on the field. Player profile loggs it as the 99th best in 2020.

Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson are locked as the Dolphins first three receivers. Battling for the fourth receiver spot will come down to rookie Erik Ezukanma, Bowden, and Preston Williams.

Both Williams and Ezukanma are bigger than Bowden and can line up more on the outside. Williams has taken snaps at running back before. Ezukanma at Texas Tech did the same things Bowden did.

Financially, letting go of Bowden earns almost $1.04 million back to sign free agents in the middle of the season due to any injuries.

Player Cap Charge Dead Cap Cap Savings
Erik Ezukanma $886,248 $724,992 $161,256
Lynn Bowden Jr. $1,038,128 $0 $1,038,128
Preston Williams $1,290,000 $275,000 $1,015,000

However, depth on the roster is like money, you can never have too much. Carrying more than six receivers on the roster is a necessity, especially in a pass-heavy league.

But…

Lynn Bowden Jr. as a running back?

We all know in 2020, the Las Vegas Raiders botched their plan for Bowden Jr. by slotting him as a running back. It never worked out.

But what if the Miami Dolphins tried it?

When the time comes Lynn Bowden Jr. will be a great case study in the value of versatility.

We’ve seen what Julian Edelman, Taysom Hill, Brian Mitchell, Antwan Randle-El, Hines Ward, and others back to Frank Gifford and Paul Hornung have accomplished, but staff matters.

This is where Lynn Bowden could thrive in an offensive staff and scheme assembled by Mike McDaniel.

Yes, we all have heard Mike McDaniel and his evolution of turning Deebo Samuel into an all-pro wideback.

Just the combination of running the ball and Bowden’s toughness minimizes the offense’s risk in the passing game.

A personnel of Waddle and Hill on opposite sides of the field with Bowden Jr. in the backfield will make defenses scratch their heads. There’s an advantage of lining him up in the backfield and as a running back.

Running Back Financials

Player Cap Charge Dead Cap Cap Savings
Chase Edmonds $5,500,000 $5,500,000 $0
Raheem Mostert $1,936,765 $1,000,000 $936,765
Myles Gaskin $2,561,777 $21,777 $2,540,000
Sony Michel $1,750,000 $850,000 $900,000

Those are the four top guys at running back right now, and Gaskin has the least dead money and offers the most cap savings by far.

The Dolphins are also carrying Alec Ingold whose 2022 salary is fully guaranteed for a cap charge of $2,750,000 at fullback. Chase Edmonds and Alec Ingold are both locks for the roster.

Again, depth is money- but you become smart with money. Unless there’s an injury in camp at the position or Gaskin has a strong training camp, it will be hard justifying his cap charge as a running back.

The Miami Dolphins currently have the fourth-highest positional spending at the running back position. This is where Lynn Bowden Jr. comes into play.

The Dolphins can carry Bowden as the fifth running back on the roster while also stacking the deck at wide receiver on the roster.

Positions are given based on a core scheme. In contrast, the league is moving towards position-less football on offense and defense with players becoming more versatile.

NFL teams make roster and personnel changes each game based on the opponent and matchups dictated. There may be more receivers on a game day roster one week, more running backs another week, and potentially two fullbacks the week after.

This may be the most logical option of getting a talented and versatile player like Lynn Bowden Jr. on the field.

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Hussam Patel***

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

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Does running the ball set up the pass?

Running the ball to set up the pass is an age-old adage where your father and grandfather told you how to play football, but does running the ball really set up the pass?

Traditionally, when an offense executes a successful run for a significant chunk of yardage, an opposing defense will attempt to compensate by bringing additional defenders into the “run box.” The more bodies in the way of the run, the more likely it is for the run to be held short.

However, if more defenders are in the box, that means there are fewer players to defend passes away from the box, so the passing game has greater opportunity to get the ball further down the field.

The NFL evolves every decade moving onward towards something unique but building on basic concepts. We’ve witnessed the fall of the I-form power football in the ‘70’s, to rise of the West Coast offense in the ‘80’s, Run ‘N Shoot and K-Gun in the ‘90’s, Spread and Shotgun offenses in the early 2000’s to the RPO revolution in the 2020’s.

Ultimately, this has come as a result of the NFL’s purposeful rule changes and schematic breakthroughs that have led to its desired impact: more touchdowns. In turn this led to running the ball much less.

EPA on running the ball to set up the pass

A study done by Sean Clements, who is now a data analyst for the Baltimore Ravens, found that establishing the run early in NFL games does not open the passing game later in games.

Through a boxplot Clements made, it’s found that there is little correlation between running the ball early and at a high volume increases the yardage obtained on passing plays. The next emphasis is through EPA, expected points added. Basically, it measures the expected points of a play.

In a graph made by Ben Baldwin, the number of expected points decreases as the number of rushing attempts increases. Contrary to the belief running the ball will help to set up the pass and score.

If that were the case, then we would expect to see higher EPA as the number of rushing attempts increases.

How the modern era has discontinued running the ball to set up the pass

From 2015-2020 passing on first down has averaged a 7.6 YPA, yards per attempt, while running the ball gained 4.3 YPA.

Per sharp football stats, 30.4% of pass attempts on first down have ended up moving the chains. However, only 12.8% of running plays have picked up another first down. In 2020, NFL teams ran the ball on 50.3% of their first-down plays in 2020 and passed the ball on only 49.7%.

In 2021, NFL offenses averaged 7.4 YPA passing on first down compared to 4.2 YPA rushing.

Even the most run-heavy teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans had higher YPA’s on first down compared to running the ball. San Francisco had an 8.9 YPA passing and 4.4 YPA rushing. Tennessee had 7.2 YPA passing and 4.2 YPA rushing.

Yet, 20 of 32 NFL teams, run the ball on first down gaining minimal yards compared to easily moving the chains to score. So what gives?

How two-high coverages has stopped running the ball to set up the pass

As a result of the modern NFL, many offenses are trigger-happy and defenses have had to respond with swift actions.

Defenses have adapted as time has passed. This time to coverages that include a large base of two-high safety shells.  Two-high coverage means both the strong safety and free safety defend the deep end of the field, with each responsible for a section that runs to each boundary.

Thus leaving the middle of the field open, the main purpose of two-high is to prevent explosive plays in the deep third of the field and not allow big plays.

Some NFL offenses and high-profile quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes have struggled against two-high coverage early on because they struggled to take what the defense gives them.

In 2018, the highest amount of two-high looks faced by any quarterback in the league was 42%. Eight weeks into the 2021 NFL season, only five teams faced two-high safeties less than 40%.

The key to beating two-high coverage? Running the ball. Two-high is not the perfect scheme to use a majority of the time as yards can be gained in the intermediate passing game and the running game.

Due to the nature of defensive backs lined up well outside the box, offenses often have a light defensive body count in the box to go against. This opens up numerous lanes for running backs.

How passing the ball has set up the run

Running the ball does keep the defense honest and it can be noted on second and third down. YPA on rush attempts increases to 4.4 on second down and 4.5 on third down. The success rate of it gaining five or more yards is 50% on second down and jumps to 53% on third down.

Passing on second down yields a 6.9 YPA with a 47% success rate, on third down passing results in 7.2 YPA with a 37% success rate. First down has become the most successful passing down to move the chains and get drives started for offenses with a 54% success rate.

The most successful offenses in the NFL have potent passing attacks and have the most success by passing the ball on first down and converting it five-plus yards or past the sticks.

First Down situation Pass: Run Ratios

Buffalo, San Francisco, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and the Los Angeles Rams all have 8 or more yards per attempt passing coupled with being over a 54% success rate. Respectively, each team’s YPA on running the ball increases on 2nd and 3rd downs.

Second and Third down Pass: Run ratios

As the NFL continues its passing revolution, gone are the days of running the ball to set up the pass. With the league running two-high shells almost 50% of the time, the NFL offense has adjusted to throwing the ball more on early downs to gain more yards. Thus, able to run the ball effectively when needed to be.  

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Hussam Patel***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

 
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Why Chase Edmonds will have the biggest impact in the Miami Dolphins running back room

The Miami Dolphins signed Chase Edmonds in free agency filling a pressing need at running back. Chase Edmonds was the first signee for Mike McDaniel, and for a good reason.

Chase Edmonds fit in Miami

With Mike McDaniel as the play-caller in Miami, his offensive scheme is centered around the outside zone running game. Edmonds, while in Arizona did indeed play with zone blocking but in an inside zone scheme.

“The flow of the backers is different because in inside zone, it’s more slow to fast, where I can pitter-patter my steps,” Edmonds said. “Outside zone here, it’s kind of like you’re riding a wave. Once you hit that wave, you’ve got to hit it and go. I’m getting used to that, getting my feet under me. I’m taking pride in that journey, that challenge of fine-tuning it.”

Chase Edmonds on the outside zone scheme

While all zone blocking concepts are the same, the way the running back finds gaps are not. Chase Edmonds does bring that experience into Miami, especially to help quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Running the Ball

Arizona routinely ran bubble screen RPO’s where it’s an inside zone option.

The most intriguing part of this play is the design itself, the threat of the quarterback keep. Tight end Zach Ertz executes an H-back arc block on this play. Ertz motioning from right-to-left leaves the EDGE untouched and climbs second level.

If the EDGE rusher were to crash on Chase Edmonds, Kyler Murray can keep the ball and run around the edge with Ertz blocking for him. Furthermore, if the linebacker was also focused on Edmonds, Murray could throw the ball to Zach Ertz.

With Chase Edmonds, the Miami Dolphins can utilize this same concept on different designs. After all, the did something similar like it last year.

Chase Edmonds intangibles is exactly what the Miami Dolphins need out of their running back room this year.

In a zone running scheme, running backs should have fast feet to move quickly around blocks, vision to see gaps open up before a block is made and short area burst after running through the hole.

Edmonds brings all of that to Miami, here’s a play that demonstrates his skills.

Edmonds finds the crease, using quick footwork behind the offensive line to get into the hole and gains 11 yards. He swiftly reads and reacts to the blocks in front of him

Given his experience and skillset, Edmonds is a near-ideal fit for the rushing offense McDaniel implements.

Catching the ball

Chase Edmonds is capable in the passing game, and a serviceable blocker.

With 96 catches for 713 yards the last two seasons, and no sacks allowed on 132 pass blocking snaps the last three years, Edmonds has demonstrated the ability to play on all three downs.

In Arizona, Edmonds was used in the receiving game as a slot receiver and used effectively in the screen game. As a result of Edmonds skillset, routinely, Arizona utilized his quickness against reacting linebackers in short areas of the field.

Mike McDaniel, as the play caller in San Francisco produced three top 10 run-after-catch players in 2021, this bodes well for Chase Edmonds in Miami.

With more defenses playing two-high coverage at an alarming rate, it’s important that teams have pass-catchers that can make defenders miss underneath and gain yards after the catch. Last year, Edmonds averaged 7.9 yards after the catch and used as an underneath option.

Chase Edmonds’ Efficiency and EPA

There is another component to the Edmonds news that makes sense from Miami’s perspective.

Efficiency. The emphasis is through EPA, expected points added. Basically, it measures the expected points of a play.

The average rushing EPA per play last season? A negative number.

However, contextualizing Edmonds rushes, He is one of those rare running backs who was efficient last season.

According to charting data from Sports Info Solutions, Edmonds had an EPA per rushing attempt of 0.08. That placed him fifth overall among ball-carriers with 100 or more rushing attempts last season.

Head Coach, Mike McDaniel values this extremely in his running back room. It’s something he speaks to at lengths in media pressers and believes in his scheme

The value of the running back position — what value do you put on anywhere from a third to a half of the plays on a given offensive season? You got to realize running backs, collectively… you have about 300 to 400 some touches, so it’s incredibly valuable, but there is a more diverse way of finding them. From a historical perspective, there is rookies, second-year players, mid-to-late-round [draftees] that have more success at that position than some others. But it’s…of paramount importance. We just have a concrete skill set that we found that can really flourish in a zone-blocking system.

Mike McDaniel on running back value

In Chase Edmonds, McDaniel now has that zone-blocking fit, as well as one of the league’s more efficient backs from a season ago to help bolster the Miami Dolphins rushing attack.

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Hussam Patel***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

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Tua Tagovailoa and Play-action passing

Tua Tagovailoa has become a hot topic this off-season from pundits deciding if this would be his make-or-break year. Additionally, a recent article from PFT’s Mike Florio detailed that free agent acquisition Tyreek Hill had low expectations for Tua.

The third-year Dolphins quarterback has received the most criticism from the media, fans and throughout last season, even players. One man is here to change that narrative – new head coach Mike McDaniel.

How Mike McDaniel will help Tua Tagovailoa

The big thing is what new head coach Mike McDaniel wants to do. McDaniel comes from the Shanahan coaching tree, the ever glorious wide-zone, bootleg, play-action world with Kyle Shanahan that has made Jimmy Garrapolo, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins successful in the NFL.

Mike McDaniel with Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay utilized 12 personnel mainly in their time with the now Washington Commanders. McVay now utilizes a spread concept using 11 personnel to maximize his players skill sets. Kyle Shanahan uses 21 personnel to maximize his offensive players skillset and utilizes the pistol formation.

McDaniel is able to use a combination of the two but put his spin on how he can maximize his players skill set; mainly, Tua Tagovailoa.

The easiest way to explain the offense McDaniel has helped culture through the past couple of years is to break it down into two parts. It’s a wide zone run scheme paired with a west coast offense passing scheme.

In terms of the west coast passing scheme, it involves a lot of play action passes that can be deadly with a good running game. It is comprised of a lot of slants and crossing routes.

This is a perfect offense for Tua Tagovailoa. It truly does maximize everything he does well, while limiting the things he does bad. Tua will be asked to make quick reads, and throw the ball primarily to the middle of the field.

Slants, crossing routes, screen passes, and dig routes are gonna be the bread and butter of this offense’s passing plays, and Tagovailoa excels at those routes

Play-action passing

This off-season the hottest name is Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, who understands the the vast superiority of the play-action pass.

Simply put, play action is the easiest way to scheme quarterbacks more time and create big plays downfield.

At the heart of it all is the outside zone run, a very popular run concept in the NFL today. Not only is it effective, the play action off outside zone affords the quarterback more time than a normal dropback when passing.

The biggest question heading into the 2022 NFL season is if Miami’s new offensive line can block decently for Tua. Play-action passing provides Tua more time to maneuver the pocket and throw the ball down the field.

More and more teams are beginning to buy in to this line of thinking, for instance, with the play action rate in the NFL in 2018 reaching 24%. Expect the Dolphins to be one of them.

Per PFF, Tua Tagovailoa has a 80.3 grade on play-action passes and the offense as a whole has a 82.3 grade. In other words, when there’s a successful fake, he usually makes magic happen.

Flood Concept

A staple of the 49ers offense McDaniel is from is using the fullback or tight ends to condense across the formation, kick out in a split zone concept that allows for cutbacks, and take advantage of overflowing defenses.

This play action flood concept aims to put the flat and deep third defender in conflict

With the 49ers run game’s reputation and established tendencies, this leaves the window open for play action off of it.

This play action flood concept aims to put the flat and deep third defender in conflict. If #33 stays deep under the corner by Dwelley, QB can hit the 10 yard dig route to Emmanuel Sanders or dump it down to Juszczyk in the flats. If #33 comes up, QB can throw one over his head and in front of the FS occupied by the skinny post ran by Deebo Samuel.

The beauty of play-action is that it can create simple reads and make them even easier.

Mike McDaniel and Kyle Shanahan did an amazing job of giving Garoppolo easy reads and setting him up for success by scheming guys open and allowing for easy completions.

Boot-action and roll-outs in play action passing

Bootlegs are nothing new. Yet the rebirth of the outside-zone-then-boot idea has led to one specific change: the boot-action is no longer a specific down-and-distance call.

It’s no longer about moving the chains on third down, or bluffing on early down to steal ten yards. The boot-action and roll-out has become the go-to way for the league’s most prominent offenses to hit explosive plays.

The NFL is a league of explosives. Hit as many as you can; stop as many as you can. That’s it. In the passing era, that’s the entire ball game.

I believe this may be the key to unlocking an explosive Miami Dolphins offense.

How it works

Bootleg passes have several advantages, but one major disadvantage: they only attack one side of the field.

All play-action bootlegs are built around the same principals and are designed to achieve the same goals. These plays use misdirection to confuse defenders.

In other words, they look like running plays, slowing the pass rush and drawing linebackers close to the line of scrimmage to open passing lanes.

The run action also slows the pass rush, and the movement of the quarterback forces defensive linemen to change their pass-rush angle.

Finally, play-action bootlegs usually move one side of the field with receivers while putting the quarterback in position to execute short, easy throws.

The use of the boot has steadily trickled up across the league. The quarterback, offensive line, and running back are set up like it’s outside zone. Everyone kicks one way. It looks like outside-zone.

However, only the quarterback keeps the ball, rolls to the outside, away from the pass-rush, and then surveys the landscape.

Traditional boot-action concepts are built like any old “flood” concept: there’s a deep route, an intermediate route, and a short route.

In the modern game, with almost all just about quarterbacks mobile enough to be a perimeter threatthe quarterback is his own option. If nothing is open, he can run the ball himself.

Usually that quarterback rolls, opens up his hips and fires to a receiver swooping across the field. The defense bites one way, the ball is thrown the other way.

How Mike McDaniel can utilize Boot-action and Play-action passes to help Tua

By many, Tua Tagovailoa is seen as a one-read quarterback who is heavily reliant on RPO’s.

While it might be true that the Dolphins led the league in RPO passes down the field, many forget about Tua’s play-action game. Per Pro-Football reference, Tua Tagovailoa had the 11th highest play-action pass attempts (113). 

Play-action passing with Jimmy Garrapolo

Assuming RPOs are considered play-action, the San Francisco 49ers had a 31% play-action usage in their pass attempts, with Jimmy Garoppolo accounting for 147 passes on 441 pass attempts.

Most of the 49er’s play-action passes in 2021 came from under shotgun compared to the usual Shanahan system. The quarterback under center, him turning and handing off or throwing a play-action pass or bootleg.

The play-action pass from under center in particular was the staple of the Shanahan offense.

Shanahans usual way is not the best play-action system for Tua, neither for Jimmy Garropolo.

2021 became the year where, with McDaniel’s help, Shanahan changed his philosophy. From Week 8 onward, the 49ers were exclusively in shotgun instead of under center.

Per Sharp Football stats, the 49ers were in shotgun on 67% of all passes in 2021, coming in at 13th overall of all NFL teams, an increase from 20th in 2020. When asked about the change from under center to shotgun, here’s what McDaniel had to say:

“Well, Jimmy’s a lot more decisive in the gun. He likes to see it while he’s delivering tight window throws… minimizing pass exclusive situations, which on first and second down, you can do if you have the threat of (run out of gun). And we’ve just kind of evolved. Kyle in 2019, really started noticing that and put pressure on us to evolve. And every week you figure out different ways to do some of the same things, maybe a couple of wrinkles.” Mike McDaniel

Jimmy Garropolo’s efficiency and decisiveness went up towards the middle weeks of the NFL season, a huge part in driving San Francisco to the playoffs.

This is not something new to Mike McDaniel. As an offensive assistant with Washington, McDaniel and Shanahan took the league by storm by utilizing read-option plays to capitalize RGIII’s effectiveness in the run game.

Play action passing with Tua Tagovailoa

Similar to Jimmy Garropolo is Tua Tagovailoa. We’ve seen how decisive Tua can be in no-huddle, up-tempo, shotgun based offense. It’s one of his biggest strengths.

In the play seen above, the Dolphins are in a condensed 11 Personnel formation with Isaiah Ford motioning to the right side of the field.

Jaylen Waddle runs a “go” route and looks to be Tua’s first read. Tua identifies the bracket coverage on Waddle and shifts towards Devante Parker, his second read.

Tua moves LB Rashaan Evans with his eyes and holds him towards Waddle. This creates an opening to fire a pass down the middle to Devante Parker on a post route.

This is the type of play-action sequence Tua is successful at.

New Play-action sequences for Tua Tagovailoa

One of the most used play-calls used by the San Francisco 49ers under Mike McDaniel was the “DRIFT” concept.

It is a quick-hitting play that hits in the zone vacated by linebackers flowing toward the run action. 

 

The run fake draws up the linebackers and opens the zone behind them for the quarterback. This most basic of play-action of concepts opens some of the biggest throwing lanes in any offense I do expect this “DRIFT” concept to be utilized for the Dolphins offense in 2022, especially for Tua Tagovailoa.

How the RPO gives a boost to play-action passing

Per PFF, the Dolphins had 63 downfield RPO’s thrown beyond three yards, which was the highest figure since 2016. These downfield RPO’s generally enhance a teams play efficiency in the run game, giving a boost to play-action passing. In addition, the 2021 Dolphins RPO system was generally a “one-read” system as plays were meant for one person.
 
 
This will change as McDaniel brings a different philosophy in terms of RPO’s and improvements along the offensive line. It all starts with a concept called “WANDA”. 
 
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The biggest difference is that if the football is not given to the running backs as the quarterbacks first read, the running back himself can become another outlet instead of pass blocking.
 
By providing another read to the quarterback, the running back runs a “wheel” concept giving another downfield passing threat if the blocking is solid. The threat of the pass will open up running lanes for running backs in RPO’s and Tua in play-action passing concepts.
 
Fortunately, Miami signed running backs in Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds who have ample experience in this type of offense.

Will these play-action passing concepts work?

“One thing I know about you is you have the ambition to be great. My job is to coach you to get all that greatness out of you”.
 
These words were uttered by Mike McDaniel in his first phone call to Tua Tagovailoa. McDaniel has success with quarterbacks with similar skill-sets like Tua, however the young man must put in the work to silence his critics and improve.
“What I’ve seen is a skill set that I’m familiar with, that’s very successful in this offense, you’re seeing a very accurate passer that receivers love to catch footballs from — tight spirals and accurate throws, which are huge for run after the catch and YAC yardage. What that means for an offense is if you have people who can run after the catch, that’s an outstanding skill set for him. Mike McDaniel on Tua Tagovailoa
It’s time for Mike McDaniel to tap into Tua’s skillsets and Tua to put in the work to make the Miami Dolphins offense successful in 2022.
 

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Hussam Patel***

 

  Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel  
 
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Jaylen celebrates after scoring the clinching touchdown for the Miami Dolphins in the win against the New Orleans Saints.

Miami Dolphins 2022 game-by-game predictions

After a busy free agency and a much quieter draft, the 2022 Miami Dolphins are beginning to take shape. New head coach Mike McDaniel will look to lead the Dolphins to their first playoff birth since 2016. Doing so will not be easy, as Miami has the 14th hardest schedule, based on projected win totals. This includes a brutal six-game (four of which will be on the road) stretch to end the season, featuring five teams who finished last year with a winning record.

Let’s preview Miami’s 2022 schedule and project each game’s score.

 

Week 1: vs. New England

The Dolphins did something last season that they had not accomplished since 2000: they swept the New England Patriots. In Weeks 1 and 18, Miami defeated its AFC East rival.

The two teams will battle it out in Week 1 yet again, making it the third straight year these foes have opened their respective seasons against each other. New England will enter its 2022 slate with a new play-caller for the first time since 2011, as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was hired to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.

It is unclear yet who will be calling the plays for the Patriots in 2022, and that ambiguity has me hesitant to predict a win for them in their season opener.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 23, Patriots 14 (1-0)

 

Week 2: @ Baltimore

Miami’s first road matchup of the 2022 season will be against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that the Dolphins defeated a year ago, sparking their seven-game win streak.

The makeup of this Ravens team will be different than the one that Miami beat last November, as running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, who both suffered ACL injuries that derailed their 2021 campaigns, are on their way to making full recoveries.

The Dolphins could and should hold their own against the Ravens, but considering the game will be played in Baltimore,  where Miami has not won since 1997 (0-4 since then), a first loss of the season seems likely.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 16, Ravens 19 (1-1)

 

Week 3: vs. Buffalo

In the Brian Flores-era in Miami, the Buffalo Bills demolished the Dolphins, going undefeated in six matchups and winning each game by an average of 18 points.

A coaching change for Miami figures to bring new life into this biannual matchup, and if the Dolphins can alleviate Buffalo’s ferocious pass-rush by unlocking the run game early, Miami has a good shot at beating the Bills for the first time since 2018.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 26, Bills 20 (2-1)

 

Week 4: @ Cincinnati 

Joe Burrow versus Tua Tagovailoa.

This Thursday Night Football matchup features the two highest-picked quarterbacks of the 2020 NFL Draft, and while Burrow has undoubtedly had a much better professional career up to this point, I expect Tagovailoa to find success against a Cincinnati Bengals secondary that ranked 24th in passing DVOA last season.

Ultimately, however, I trust Burrow to eke out a narrow win at home in what should be a high-scoring contest.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 27, Bengals 31 (2-2)

 

Week 5: @ New York

The New York Jets got better this offseason. They strengthened what could be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, added new weaponry to aid second-year quarterback Zach Wilson and added high-ceiling defensive talent in the draft.

While I expect the Jets to improve this season, especially on offense, I just have way too many questions about the experience and overall talent level on defense to pick them against a team with more established impact players like the Dolphins.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 30, Jets 20 (3-2)

 

Week 6: vs. Minnesota 

Every team in the NFL has at least one “stinker” game per season.

Not every loss is necessarily a stinker; even a win could fall under this category. I think this could be that game for the Dolphins.

I have questions about Miami’s linebackers and their ability to consistently stop the run heading into this season, and the Minnesota Vikings, who feature star back Dalvin Cook (who will be making his return to South Florida, where he grew up), present the Dolphins with a tough matchup.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 17, Vikings 27 (3-3)

 

Week 7: vs. Pittsburgh 

Sunday Night Football is back in Miami (Gardens) after a three-season absence!

The Pittsburgh Steelers stroll into Miami Gardens with expected quarterback questions. Pittsburgh added former Bears and Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky and then selected University of Pittsburgh gunslinger Kenny Pickett with the No. 20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Steelers have a talented roster, but doubts about their quarterback position do not have me confident to pick them in this primetime contest. I think the Dolphins rebound here after a letdown performance against the Vikings in Week 6.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 24, Steelers 16 (4-3)

 

Week 8: @ Detroit

I really liked what the Detroit Lions did this offseason, especially at wide receiver.

After Amon-Ra St. Brown put together one of the more underrated seasons for a wide out last year, adding former Jaguar D.J. Chark through free agency and Alabama receiver Jameson Williams through the draft gives the Lions a dangerous trio of young talent at the position.

My biggest question, however, lies at quarterback, where former Ram Jared Goff is expected to start for the second consecutive season. Until the Lions upgrade at this position and throughout their defense as a whole, I don’t think head coach Dan Campbell’s squad will win more than six games, including its contest against a more talented Dolphins team.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 27, Lions 13 (5-3)

 

Week 9: @ Chicago

Aside from their Day 2 of the NFL Draft, I didn’t particularly love the offseason that the Chicago Bears had.

Chicago’s offense as a whole still feels very void of talent. I think the unit could be better than expected, however, due to expected second-year improvement from quarterback Justin Fields (who I like), and the acquisition of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy (who I really like).

I’m predicting a Dolphins win, but I think the Bears could keep it interesting.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 28, Bears 21 (6-3)

 

Week 10: vs Cleveland 

The circumstances surrounding this game, at least from the time of this article’s publication, are very dicey.

For the Cleveland Browns, quarterback Deshaun Watson’s status for the game is unclear, but for the purpose of the score prediction, I will assume that he’s playing.

I think this could be Tua Tagovailoa’s most defining game yet as quarterback of the Dolphins. A shoot-out win here would help silence some of Tagovailoa’s critics who claim that the third-year signal caller gets carried to victory by his defense.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 34, Browns 31 (7-3)

 

Week 11: BYE

 

Week 12: vs Houston

The Houston Texans had a mixed-bag of an offseason. I didn’t like the decision to go in-house with the hiring of head coach Lovie Smith, but I loved the selection of cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft.

I think Stingley could be the best player to come out of this draft class when it’s all said and done. I also like how Houston is giving quarterback Davis Mills a chance to flourish this season; he really started to come on at the end of last year.

The Dolphins should have enough firepower offensively to overcome the Texans in what should be a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions record-wise.

Score Predictions:

Dolphins 20, Texans: 9 (8-3)

 

Week 13: @ San Francisco 

The Dolphins are on a five-game win streak at this point and possibly near the top of the AFC standings.

Unfortunately for them, I think the streak ends at five, as Miami will have to face off against a tough San Francisco 49ers team following a relatively comfortable home win against the Texans.

I am intrigued to see how McDaniel will fare against the 49ers, a team that the Yale graduate coached for from 2017–21.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 21, 49ers 27 (8-4)

 

Week 14: @ Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Chargers had an active offseason.

In trading for outside linebacker Khalil Mack and acquiring cornerback J.C. Jackson, the Chargers are entering their win-now window with star quarterback Justin Herbert entering his third season.

I think the Dolphins keep this game competitive, but Los Angeles just has too much star power on both sides of the ball for Miami to overcome.

Score Prediction: 

Dolphins 30, Chargers 37 (8-5)

 

Week 15: @ Buffalo

Beating the Bills twice in a season is hard.

Doing so a second time at Highmark Stadium in front of the “Bills Mafia” is even harder.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 16, Bills 27 (8-6)

 

Week 16: vs Green Bay

The Dolphins enter this Christmas Day matchup against the Green Bay Packers in need of a win. Losers of three straight, Miami needs a win to establish itself as a playoff contender in what should be a crowded AFC.

I think Miami gets that win against a Super Bowl contender in Green Bay, which would be the first time that the Dolphins have defeated the Packers since 2010.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 29, Packers 23 (9-6)

 

Week 17: @ New England

Tua Tagovailoa eventually has to lose to the Patriots.

I think this loss comes here against a New England team that could be fighting for its playoff life.

Frigid temperatures are expected in a late-December game in Foxborough, Mass., and I find it difficult predicting Miami to have success in these conditions.

Score Prediction:

Dolphins 14, Patriots 22 (9-7)

 

Week 18: vs New York

There are some similarities to be drawn here to the end of the 2013 season.

The 2013 Dolphins, entering Week 16 with a record of 8-6 and only in need of one win to punch their ticket to the playoffs, collapsed. That team lost in the final two weeks of the season, including in Week 17 at home against the Jets.

I expect the Jets to enter this Week 18 matchup playing some of the best football they have played in years, as all the young talent on the team should start to gel by that point.

New York should give Miami all it can handle, but I think the Dolphins will be able to do just enough to edge out their AFC East rival and punch their ticket to the NFL Playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season.

Score Prediction:

(F/OT) Dolphins 30, New York 27 (10-7)

Miami Dolphins Schedule: 5 Most Interesting Storylines

The Miami Dolphins schedule was released last week, and it is riddled with interesting matchups. The Dolphins are getting two primetime games, along with several more that may be nationally televised.

Following their trade for star acquisitions, many view the Dolphins as playoff contenders. Thus, their schedule has five key storylines to look out for.

Tua vs. Herbert and Burrow

The Miami Dolphins hold matchups against the Bengals and Chargers, the former of which being on Thursday Night Football. These three teams have been tied together for over two years, when they were all competing for the number one pick and the rights to Joe Burrow, who went to Cincinnati.

Miami, of course, selected Tua Tagovailoa soon after, passing on Justin Herbert, who has looked stellar with the Chargers. In a “do or die” year for Tua, it’s important to see how his progress stacks up with the fellow quarterbacks of the 2020 draft.

 

Brian Flores Returns to Miami

Following the conclusion of Miami’s 2021 season, the Dolphins opted to fire Brian Flores. A combination of friction with personnel and a lack of production on the offensive side of the ball caused Miami to look in another direction. However, this was called into question when Flores filed a lawsuit against the team and the rest of the NFL.

Flores alleged several teams of racially motivated hiring and interviewing practices, and accused the Dolphins of offering him incentives to lose games in 2019. 

Unable to find a job in this cycle as a head coach, Flores joined the Steelers as a linebackers coach. Coaching Mike Tomlin’s star-studded defense, Flores will make his return to Miami on Sunday Night Football in Week 7.

 

Deshaun Watson in Hard Rock Stadium

The most prominent factor in Miami Dolphins schedule for early on is facing the Cleveland Browns. The constant rumors about a Deshaun Watson trade. It loomed over the team for a large portion of the year, and former coach Brian Flores refused to refute any potential trades. Thus, the pressure was on Tua Tagovailoa, with the constant worry of not having his job in the coming weeks.

Following the trade deadline, the weight seemed to be lifted from Tagovailoa’s shoulders. He performed significantly better and led Miami on a seven-game winning streak. 

With Miami’s new staff putting forth full confidence in Tagovailoa, they backed out of the Watson sweepstakes. The controversial quarterback was traded to the Cleveland Browns and leads one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.

Many looked at Watson, Jacoby Brissett, and Jakeem Grant, as three players that would be in Miami in 2022. However, all three are on Cleveland together and will come down to Hard Rock to face the Dolphins in Week 10.

 

Mike McDaniel Revenge Game

Following the firing of former coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins figured that they needed someone who could change the game on offense. Thus, they hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who comes from Kyle Shanahan’s elite outside zone scheme.

McDaniel took several staff members from San Francisco on his trip to the east coast. Namely, receivers coach Wes Welker (who played for the Dolphins) and tight ends coach Jon Embree. These three, along with other assistants, will go back to their old stomping grounds in Week 13. Miami will fly to San Francisco where McDaniel will meet his mentor, and potentially show him that he was ready to move on.

 

Beating the Bills

When Tom Brady left New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a power vacuum in the AFC East opened up. Each team made aggressive attempts to get better with hopes of taking over in the division. Miami and Buffalo, namely, have made vast changes to their teams over the last couple of years.

Now Miami fans (and Buffalo fans) circle their calendars every time the Miami Dolphins schedule drops.

However, the Bills have been much more successful in their approach. Making timely additions of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and other contributors have vaulted them to the top of the East. Miami, on the other hand, has been on the outside looking in.

This has largely been in part to the matchups between the two teams. Miami hasn’t beat the Bills since 2018, when Adam Gase as their head coach. It is up to Mike McDaniel and company to change this if they are to contend for a title in the coming years. They face the Bills in Weeks 3 and 15.  

 

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Tyler DeSena***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel  

 

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Battle of Florida Round 2: Series Preview

For the first time in 26 years, the Panthers are on to the second round. After a hard fought series with the Washington Capitals, the road only gets tougher for the cats. The good news is that they finally got over the mental hurdle of winning a playoff series. Now, they must get over another mental hurdle: the battle of Florida.

Indeed, it is that the defending champs are waiting on the other side.

The battle of Florida, Panthers vs Lightning round two, commences this week. Both teams have a tremendous amount to prove in what will almost certainly be the premier matchup of the second round. Here’s how the teams match up.

Forward Battle

If there’s anyone out there who is unfamiliar with the embarrassment of riches the Lightning possess at forward, know this: they’re really good. Steven Stamkos is in the midst of a resurgent season in which he’s tallied a career high in points. 2019 MVP Nikita Kucherov has struggled with injuries this season, but had an impressive first round of the playoffs. Scoring wingers Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli, and Alex Killorn round out an experienced and talented top six.

That list even excludes Brayden Point, who may be the player the Panthers struggle to contain the most. The speedy 26 year old will likely be sidelined for the first few games with a lower body injury.

As scary as that group looks on paper, the Panthers still likely have the edge in he forward department. Many of Tampa’s forwards are on the wrong side of 30 and starting to decline. They also lost much of their bottom six depth last offseason. While they did a decent job replacing much of it, this is a watered down version of the team they lost to last year.

The biggest hurdle for the Panthers will be limiting the Tampa power play. In last year’s battle of Florida, the lightning went 8/20 (40%) on the power play. That was the Panthers’ Achilles heel in that series. Tampa’s chemistry on the man advantage kept Florida on their toes throughout.

To mitigate their scoring chances on the power play, the focus for the Panthers should be clogging up the middle of the ice. It is vital they don’t overreact to a Stamkos or Kucherov slap shot from the outside, as that will open up passes to the slot area. As long as they stay disciplined on the penalty kill, the Panthers have the edge in the forward department.

Defense Corps

Without a doubt, the Lightning have the best defenseman in this series, and possibly the league, Victor Hedman. The 2018 Norris Trophy winner amassed 85 points (20 G 65 A) this past season, the highest of his career, while also playing shutdown defense. The panthers will notice his presence on the ice will will need to constantly account for it.

Their number two and three defensemen, Ryan Mcdonagh and Mikhail Sergachev, do have holes. They’re incredibly talented and reliable players in their own right, but they are slow footed. It does open some opportunities for the Panthers to get their speedy players some scoring chances against the two of them.

Their other three defensemen are solid, but nothing special. Jan Rutta, Cal Foote, and Zach Bogosian have all had their moments, but it would be unreasonable to expect for them to slow down the elite offense Florida boasts. They also do not offer enough offensively to counter their defensive limitations. It is certainly a step down from the defensive depth they saw against Washington, and it would behoove Florida to take advantage of that.

Goaltending For The Battle of Florida

The battle in net may be the most obvious advantage Tampa has in this series. Sergei Bobrovsky has been excellent for the Panthers thus far, but Andrei Vasilevskiy has been the league’s best goaltender for the past four years. He looked mortal in their first round series against Toronto, but shut the door in their closeout game seven.

On the series, Vasilevskiy said “many goals were scored because I couldn’t see anything. I’m pretty sure that was the game plan for them, to get in front.”

Screens are a goalie’s worst nightmare, regardless of their skill level. That needs to be an adjustment the Panthers make in this series. The panthers love passing to get clean looks at the net, but Vasy is too big and too mobile for that to be a viable primary scoring option. The goals in this series need to be dirty and gritty in front of the net goals. Easier said than done of course, but the Panthers are no strangers to finding different ways to score.

Final Prediction

This will likely be the best series of the second round, and I fully expect it to go the distance. Whoever comes out of this series will likely be the favorite to make it to the cup final. The Panthers improved greatly after last year’s defeat, and are ready to win at all costs. Tampa knows how to handle any situation they find themselves in, but they will feel the absences from players who moved on in the offseason. In this year’s battle of Florida, it will be the Florida Panthers in seven games.

 

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Samuel Schettrit***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

 

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Way too early 2023 Mock Draft

The 2022 NFL Draft has ended, and it was a turbulent one. Now, it’s time for a way too early 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

2023 NFL Mock Draft

Pick 1: Texans – Will Anderson EDGE

I’m sorry Texans’ fans, no QB here. You guys are getting Will Anderson, a once-in-a-generation player. Just for reference, Will Anderson was called “the next guy” by Nick Saban his first day on campus.

Anderson’s unique athletic ability combined with his incredible pass rush IQ let him lead the SEC in sacks — as a true freshman during the Covid year against only SEC competition.

Pick 2: Lions – Bryce Young QB

Next, The Lions go for the “Burrow-to-Chase” type connection. The 2022 Heisman gets reunited with his favorite target, who just happens to be this year’s pick for the Lions. Jameson Williams and Young get to be back together in the NFL. Yes, C.J. Stroud could be the better pick this year. However, Young just makes too much sense.

Pick 3: Jaguars – Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR

In my opinion, as of right now Jaxon Smith-Njigba is better coming out than his other two Ohio State counterparts. Now, this is a “Way too early 2023 NFL Mock Draft” so everything could change, but JSN had top ten tape as a sophomore. So just take that as you will.

Pick 4: Giants – C.J Stroud QB

Yeah, the Daniel Jones project failed. Joe Schoen gets his guy to build with in C.J Stroud. Stroud and Young will be battling for QB1 all year long. With the concerns over Young’s height, Stroud could very well be QB1. However in this world, the Giants get lucky and get Stroud at 4.

Pick 5: Panthers – B.J. Ojulari EDGE

The Panthers let Matt Corral have the keys late in the year after Darnold struggles, and he played them right out of the top 3. So, they go with the 6’3″ EDGE from LSU B.J. Ojulari. Ojulari will test really well come NFL Combine time, which will land him in this top 5 slot.

Pick 6: Falcons – Bryan Bresee IDL

I see the Falcons playing their way out of a QB. Unless they go Spencer Rattler, Phil Jurkovec or Hendon Hooker, which I don’t see at six as of right now — especially after drafting Ridder.

Bryan Bresee is a monster. He is 6’5″ 300 lbs and has a very deep bag of tricks to use when pass rushing. Bresee is a bonafide NFL starter.

Pick 7: Jets – Jalen Carter IDL

Oh, would you look at that, UGA has another stud defensive lineman. In all seriousness, Jalen Carter is better than Jordan Davis in my opinion. He is quicker off the line and a better pass rusher than Davis. Carter is going to prove his worth this season, being the leading man in UGA’s new defensive line.

Pick 8: Seahawks – Spencer Rattler QB

A lot of people aren’t going to like this one. Spencer Rattler comes all the way back from the depth of despair and makes himself the blue chip guy he was before last season. Spencer has all the weapons in the world at South Carolina: Josh Vann, Corey Rucker, Antwane Wells and that’s not including a killer TE room. Look out for Rattler this year.

Pick 9: Bears – Paris Johnson Jr. OT

This offensive line class feels very weak compared to Evan Neal, Charles Cross and Ikem Ekwonu. Nonetheless, Paris Johnson is still really good. He isn’t any of those three guys in my opinion, but he is a great option for the Bears because well, protect Fields PLEASE.

Pick 10: Steelers – Kelee Ringo CB

I had a really hard time with this one. Mostly because I couldn’t pick between Eli Ricks and Kelee Ringo. As Mitch Wolfe said

“Steelers first round picks are normally 1) Underclassmen 2) Power 5 kids 3) Insane athletes.”

Well these two are all three of these things. I went Ringo. The crazy athletic UGA corner might actually get some targets this year, since quarterbacks might actually have time to throw the ball this year.

Pick 11: Commanders – Brandon Joseph S

I’m going to be 100% honest, I feel bad mocking Brandon Joseph here with how teams valued Kyle Hamilton. However, I don’t think Joseph will test the way Hamilton did, which could catapult him up to 11. The Northwestern transfer is going to be vital to Notre Dame’s defense this year.

Pick 12: Vikings – Myles Murphy IDL

It’s shades of 2019 in Clemson with two defensive lineman in the first round. Myles Murphy is just another one of those guys who on tape was a first rounder last year. Coming back? Oh yeah, that definitely should move him up into this range.

Pick 13: Raiders – Bjian Robinson RB

A FIRST ROUND RUNNING BACK?!? Well, Josh Jacobs probably won’t be in Vegas after this year, as the Raiders turned down his 5th-year option.

So, replace him with a guy who can do it all. Watch Bijan Robinson and find me a legitimate hole in his game.

Pick 14: Eagles – Eli Ricks CB

After leaving LSU for Alabama, there is a big year coming for the physical corner. Ricks is a guy who I firmly believe in. He may end up as CB1 by the time the draft rolls around. The reason Ricks isn’t CB1 in this mock just because of the fit with the Steelers and Ringo.

Pick 15: Eagles – Nolan Smith EDGE

Nolan Smith could be the best player on UGA’s defense, but he falls here to 15 due to some off-the-field problems. Smith was driving with a suspended license and he got caught speeding. Other than that? Smith is going to be a star for UGA and will make an NFL team very happy one day.

Pick 16: Dolphins – Jahmyr Gibbs RB

Jahmyr Gibbs joins the likes of Derrick Henry and Najee Harris as a stud running back from Alabama who is going to make a huge difference in the NFL.

He, much like Robinson who went three picks prior, is a complete back. Runs with power, speed, and has great hands.

Pick 17: Patriots – Michael Mayer TE

You want honesty? I took Michael Mayer here because it FEELS like a Bill Belichick pick. Mayer is good, don’t get me wrong, but he shouldn’t go this high. He is a good blocker and a good pass catcher, however he isn’t a unicorn like Pitts so I don’t see him going this high unless someone takes a big shot on him.

Pick 18: Cardinals – Trenton Simpson LB

The Cardinals used their first rounder this year on Hollywood Brown. So in 2023, look for them to add to an aging defense. Trenton Simpson is a perfect fit next to Isaiah Simmons. Simpson is aggressive, but has a great football IQ and good enough vision to be able to make sure he doesn’t over commit.

Pick 19: Titans – Kayshon Boutte WR

Imagine losing AJ Brown, replacing him with Treylon Burks, then adding a guy who was crowned as the next great LSU WR as a true freshman. Kayshon Boutte is that guy.

Pick 20: Colts – Jordan Addison WR

The run on wide receivers begins. Kenny Pickett and now maybe Caleb Williams? The number 1 target for those guys gets shipped out to Indy.

Addison entered the transfer portal after spring ball and is likely headed to SoCal. Addison has great hands and uses his body really well in the air.

Pick 21: Texans – Marvin Mims WR

I think Marvin Mims will have a down year after losing his coach and two quarterbacks, but the talent is 100% there for the 5′ 11″, 177 lbs Oklahoma wide receiver. Mims is fast, a good route runner , and has great hands. Mims will be a good fit for Mills — if he is, in fact, the guy in Houston.

Pick 22: Ravens – Noah Sewell LB

It feels like the Ravens never stop picking up good defenders. So, I’m just going to put Noah Sewell here. Paired up with Patrick Queen, the Ravens somehow get even scarier. Sewell and his teammate Justin Flowe could easily shoot up draft boards.

Pick 23: Bengals – Byron Young IDL

The other “B. Young” from Alabama is Byron, and he is going to make waves for the Tide this year. Now, Young waited behind Christian Barmore and Phidarian Mathis, he is the next up in a long line of Alabama defensive lineman to become a difference maker. Young is strong, and it mostly comes from his explosiveness.

Pick 24: Chargers – Joey Porter Jr. CB

With Chris Harris getting older and already having J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel Jr, replace the pricey Harris with Joey Porter Jr.

Now you have the best young core of defensive backs in the game. Porter is very fluid in his movements and always does a good job with his hands.

Pick 25: Cowboys – Henry To’oto’o LB

Henry To’oto’o was a monster at Tennessee, had a very good year at Alabama, and chose to come back after losing the National Championship. Henry T’s biggest issue is over-commitment. He can be too aggressive and can get caught in the wrong hole, which is his downfall.

Pick 26: Seahawks – Christian Mahogany IOL

I am expecting a huge year from Boston College’s Christian Mahogany. He has to fix his feet just a bit, however, I am a firm believer in his hands and size combo. If your team needs a late first O-line this is the guy.

Pick 27: Dolphins – Isaiah Foskey IDL

After two weak interior defensive line classes, Isaiah Foskey is the fifth (and not final) IDL to come off the board.

Foskey is an anchor for Notre Dame and is going to work his way into the first round come next April. The big man clogs up gaps quickly with an explosive first step.

Pick 28: Lions – Zion Tupuola-Fetui EDGE

An ABSOLUTE BEAST, Zion Tupuola-Fetui is an physical specimen. However, everyone has doubts with PAC12 pass rushers, and with little production someone will have to bet on talent. I think putting Aidan Hutchinson with Tupuola-Fetui in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft would allow Tupuola-Fetui to grow into his role.

Pick 29: Packers – Garrett Williams CB

I would love to put Garrett Williams next to Jaire Alexander for the Packers. It is a match made in heaven, honestly. Williams is another guy who hasn’t produced much, mostly because people don’t throw at him.

Pick 30: Chiefs – Justin Eboigbe IDL

The final interior defensive lineman goes. Justin Eboigbe is another guy who you have to bet on upside with. He won’t produce much with Young, Anderson, Dallas Turner, and more on that Bama D-line . The Chiefs are in a good enough spot where they can bet on traits.

Pick 31: Buccaneers – Phil Jurkovec QB

Okay, let’s get serious, if Phil Jurkovec doesn’t get hurt he is probably QB1 in this past year’s draft class. He gets the short end of the stick by having to wait a year, where he is now QB4.

However, he probably lands in the best spot any rookie could ask for.

Pick 32: Bills – Derick Hall EDGE

The Bills can bet on the athletic ability of Derick Hall. So far in his college career, he has been super rough around the edges. In this mock, the Bills land an amazing athlete at the 32nd pick in the 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

 

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Luke Krumich***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

 

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The Myth of the Second Round Quarterback

There has become a myth of the second round quarterback in the scouting community.
The NFL draft has come and gone, and there were plenty of surprises, notably at the quarterback position. Among them, not a single quarterback was picked in the second round.

After Kenny Pickett was drafted by the Steelers at 20, the next QB didn’t go until 54 picks later, even though there were several who analysts believed were capable of going in round two.

There’s just one small problem: second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

I know it sounds like an odd — or maybe blatantly false — statement, but there is a case to be made. The success rate on round two signal-callers is pretty horrendous, and it all seems to lead to this one conclusion.

In order to come to that conclusion, however, there are a variety of different criteria. First, the types of quarterbacks and draftable skills. Second, the structure, and third, the history of these picks. Those three, when looked at together, bring a pretty shocking revelation that made me conjure up that statement above.

Drafting a Quarterback

Teams who find themselves drafting quarterbacks highly may be in a variety of spots, but there are three that are the most typical:

  1. One of the league’s worst teams, holding a high draft pick.
  2. Middling franchise, looking to make a change.
  3. Top of the league, finding the protégé for an older (on the verge of retirement) leader.

When teams find themselves in any of these positions, they must find the traits they value in a quarterback. Among those are arm talent, rushing ability, composure, ability to read the field, and more. However, there are two categories that those fall into, which, for the sake of the argument are production and potential.

To put it simply, teams judge what a quarterback is right now versus what he could be in a few years.

Scenario One

The top guys usually have a combination of both. Trevor Lawrence, who went number one to the Jaguars last year, combined national championships and Heisman ballot appearances with a 6’6″ frame and a cannon of an arm. Thus, he went to a team that I would place in the first set of criteria. The Jaguars were easily one of the worst teams in the NFL, and thus received a generational talent.

Scenario Two

Those with one of the two traits, however, have a wide range of options. For a team that’s just good enough to be picking outside of the quarterback window, they might be willing to take a chance on a potentially huge swing in their franchises history. Kenny Pickett is a prime example of this. While he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the highest ceiling, his production last season was hard to ignore. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 9-7-1 last year, decided that he was worth it at 20.

Following that pick, there were other quarterbacks on the board, who, like Pickett, possessed one of the two main traits. Malik Willis, who some suspected may go as high as number two overall, had one of the highest ceilings in the draft, however, if he wasn’t going to go in the first, it seemed he wasn’t getting drafted until later on day 2.

Scenario Three

Teams that fall in the third category (such as the Packers in 2020) have a tough decision. While they could take their chances on a high-potential pick like Jordan Love, it makes the most sense to maximize their championship window. Green Bay took that chance in 2020, and passed up elite talent because of it. Now, teams have learned from that mistake, while quarterbacks brunt the blow to their draft position.

Thus, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, and all of the quarterbacks who many expected to go in round one, are now available in the dreaded first half of day two.

The Structure of the Second Round

On the typical draft boards, teams have a wide range of grades on prospects. It’s common to see someone who’s viewed as a top prospect by one team be a day two pick for someone else. Due to this disparity, many “first round talents” fall into the beginning of day two.

These players are quickly scooped up in what makes up roughly 25 percent of the round. This leaves the last 24 picks for guys truly viewed as round two prospects, which doesn’t leave much room for quarterbacks.

If a team would have believed in someone enough to draft them with those first eight picks, it’s unlikely he would have slipped to begin with. Teams rarely risk the opportunity of missing out their guy. This is why it’s common to see teams move up to 32. They guarantee themselves the player they want with an extra year of team control.

If a team wasn’t willing to take that chance, it’s unlikely they viewed them very highly. That idea is exactly what makes the second round the worst for the quarterback. Would a team take a player who, at the most important position in the sport, they aren’t fully invested in or comfortable with — especially when there is still high-end talent on the board?

The Last 24

Once you find your way out of those first eight picks, it becomes time for teams to ask themselves that question. As this draft has shown, the answer has been a resounding “no.” The later picks, which are usually the teams competing for playoff spots, would rather choose someone who can contribute right away. Bubble teams are always looking for their next big acquisition, and their philosophy is that is can come then.

Quarterbacks, as a result, usually fall by the wayside. However, there are some instances where they are picked. The results of which are rather interesting.

Modern History of the Second Round Quarterback

Over the last 20 years, there have been 20 quarterbacks selected in the second round. 20 different times, teams have weighed the ideas of production and potential, and in the last two decades, have determined it’s time to take a quarterback who likely only had one of those traits.

Of those, the results are typically a failure of epic proportions. Kellen Clemens, Deshone Kizer, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, John Beck, Jimmy Clausen, and Geno Smith all have more career interceptions than touchdowns, while Christian Hackenberg and Kyle Trask (who’s only in his second season) never played a recorded snap.

The other options aren’t great either. Tavaris Jackson, Brock Osweiler, and Kevin Kolb all showed some flashes, but never lived up to their selection.

Five of the remaining six are polarizing. Jalen Hurts has shown flashes, but fell apart in the playoffs. Drew Lock is still young, but was just traded by the Broncos and has been shaky. Jimmy Garoppolo was able to succeed in the Kyle Shanahan offense, but was just replaced and hasn’t shown an ability to transcend the system. Andy Dalton is a similar story, having rough stints in limited playoff appearances. Lastly, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, but has been out of the league for the better half of the last decade.

This leaves Derek Carr, who, while having only one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins, has safely cemented a spot as the Raiders quarterback for eight years. He has made three Pro Bowls, and has continued to improve. Thus making him the only second round quarterback selected in the last 20 years who can safely be called a hit.

The Bottom Line on the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft was a prime example of a philosophy at work. After a quarterback goes in the first round, teams have learned from mistakes of the past. Rather than picking signal callers with clear holes in their game in the following round, they’ve gone for contributors at other positions.

Several teams would love to have the next Derek Carr, but with that comes the chance of Brian Brohm or Deshone Kizer. Just like every other selection, the second round has it’s fair share of bust potential. However, it seems that the combination of quarterback traits, draft tendencies, and a simple history lesson will tell you that it simply isn’t the same.

General managers across the league will continue to take swings on quarterbacks, but when doing so, it’s important to look at the most glaring fact:

Second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

 

***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Tyler DeSena***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

 

Use code “FIVE” to receive a matching $100 bonus on Prizepicks

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grades

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 Grades

The 2022 NFL Draft kicked off last night in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its arrival comes highly anticipated as the NFL community found out which prospects were selected in the first round. Hussam Patel gives his 2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grades

Round 1 grades

1. Jacksonville Jaguars select EDGE Travon Walker

The first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and former five-star recruit has developed into a consistent EDGE rusher, consistently stopping the run. Walker is projected to be an impressive rookie making an impact as soon as Week 1.

How he fits: Jacksonville was in desperate need of a reliable edge rusher after not seeing much improvement from their front line last season. Walker’s size and force is a great addition for the Jaguars.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

2. Detroit Lions select EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

The Lions took Aidan Hutchinson. He is comparable to a Bosa brother. He’s got a high floor similar to that of Patrick Kerney in Atlanta and Seattle. The Lions are getting a great player here with Hutchinson. This is a bit of a no-brainer. Hutchinson might be the best player in the entire draft.

How he fits: Aidan Hutchinson getting drafted by his hometown team just makes sense. Hutchinson is a great fit for the Jaguars and will instantly slot right into the starting defensive end role with the Lions. They will have a team captain type in him as well.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

3. Houston Texans select CB Derek Stingley Jr.

Often compared to two-time All Pro Stephon Gilmore, Stingley Jr. is sure to bring both speed and power to the Texans. After playing in just 10 games in the last three seasons, Stingley Jr. is ready to leave his mark on the field once again.

How he fits: The Texans have so many needs that nearly any pick was a good one. Stingley Jr. will bring serious explosiveness and a lot of potential to his new team.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

4. NY Jets select CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner

Sauce Gardner is the best cornerback in the entire draft. The former Bearcat will be an instant starter for whoever selects him and be the best cornerback on that team. He’s a great fit for either zone or man teams and is one of the more physically-adept corners in the draft.

How he fits: Gardner would be an instant No. 1 corner in the Jets defense. He will instantly slot in at left corner to start for the next decade. Gardner fits not just value, but scheme here. In Robert Saleh’s defense, he’s going to be an instant star.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

5. NY Giants select EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

Before the 2021 season. Thibodeaux was widely regarded as the best player this draft. The powerful 21-year-old EDGE rusher from Oregon is best known for his explosive plays and NFL ready skill-set, with room to grow his pass rush abilities.

How he fits: The Giants have a lot of needs and it was never clear what direction they would go with their first pick. Thibodeaux seems like a BPA pick by the new front office regime in New York. Thankfully, his elite skill set will be a great fit in New York.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

6. Carolina Panthers select OT Ikem Ekwonu

Ikem Ekwonu is the best left tackle in the draft. He will be a 10-time Pro Bowl starter for the team that drafts him. He’s got the footwork, technique and overall nastiness to be a huge star in the league. He’s going to be that franchise left tackle that whoever draft’s him loves.

How he fits: Carolina just settled their left tackle position for the next 10 years. Ekwonu is also from North Carolina, so he’s going to be an instant star there. The Panthers made the right decision to solidify their line for the next few years.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

7. NY Giants select OT Evan Neal

Evan Neal was highly sought after for his patience and timing, bringing a lot of experience playing against elite talents in college.

How he fits: Offensive tackle was arguably the Giants biggest need this offseason and Neal is the best fit by a long shot. His impressive size and versatility is an instant upgrade in New York.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

8. Atlanta Falcons select WR Drake London

Drake London is a go-up-and-get-it kind of wide receiver. He’s a 6’4”, 220-pound monster who can get snag the ball out of the air. Teams will have trouble guarding him, especially in the red zone. However, injury history and lack of top end speed hurt his value. He should have gone later.

How he fits: London will be the top receiver for the Falcons for a long time. He’s a great wide receiver with a big body and should help Marcus Mariota get the passing yards he’ll need to get with Calvin Ridley out and the Falcons depth chart missing a true No. 1.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: C

9. Seattle Seahawks select T Charles Cross

Cross brings strong technique to the pro-level, demonstrating impressive control and maximizing his size.

How he fits: The Seahawks have been known for their inability to protect their quarterback, so taking an offensive lineman with their first pick should have been a no brainer. Cross is a great fit for Seattle as they try and rebuild their offense.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A-

10. NY Jets select WR Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is arguably the third best wide receiver in the draft. He’s going to be a good fit for any offense because he can do a bit of everything. Similar to Calvin Ridley, he’s a smaller-in-frame kind of guy, but he’ll run all of the routes and has great yards-after-catch ability.

How he fits: The Jets go out and get their long-term No. 1 to fit with their quarterback they drafted just a season ago. Garrett Wilson fits in very well with the Jets and can do everything Mike LaFleur will ask him to do. The value is just a few picks off.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

11. New Orleans select WR Chris Olave

Olave is a strong route runner that has drawn the eyes of NFL scouts for years. His 40-yard dash time paints the wrong picture, as he is consistently one of the fastest players on the field.

How he fits: After trading up five picks, the Saints instantly have one of the most dangerous wide receiver duos in the league. Olave’s route running combined with Michael Thomas’ ability to stretch the field makes this a great pick for Dennis Allen and his new staff.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

12. Detroit selects WR Jameson Williams

Jameson Williams is the best wide receiver in the draft when he’s healthy. He’s one of the fastest players in football and is very similar to Tyreek Hill in how he wins. He can run all of the routes and burst through to the next level with no issues.

How he fits: Williams will be the No. 1 in Detroit with Amon-Ra St. Brown as the No. 2. The combination of these two guys will give Jared Goff a pair of receivers who win after the catch. He doesn’t have to be available right away either with the Lions in no position to win quickly.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

13. Philadelphia Eagles select DT Jordan Davis

Davis possesses unbelievable athleticism, dominating the combine and proving his pro-ready abilities. His power and unbelievable size allow him the space to develop into an elite talent.

How he fits: Davis is a powerhouse by all accounts. His speed is undeniable, running a 4.78 40-yard dash at 341 pounds. His talent fits in nearly anywhere.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

14. Ravens Select SS Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton is the best safety in the draft. He’s going to be one of the best safeties in the NFL. He is very similar to multi-time All-Pro Kam Chancellor in that he can play deep, play in the box or even blitz and be effective at it.

How he fits: The Ravens just brought in Marcus Williams to be their true free safety, so Hamilton will play more of a strong safety in the box type role. The Ravens will have a great set of defensive backs and took arguably the best player in the entire class.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

15. Houston Texans select OT Kenyon Green

At 6’4” and 323 pounds, Green has the skill level to be a dominant starter his rookie season.

How he fits: The quarterback situation in Houston is in limbo so they might as well fit out the offensive line. Green is a great choice thanks to his undeniable potential stellar run blocking.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

16. Commanders select WR Jahan Dotson.

Jahan Dotson is a pure speed guy. He can cut defenses with the ball in his hands, and he can beat them deep. He’s a bit smaller than the average wide receiver, but he doesn’t have to be a No. 1 in the NFL. Dotson projects best as a No. 2 wide receiver taking advantage of softer zones.

How he fits: Dotson will be the No. 2 in Washington behind Terry McLaurin. He’s more of a high second-round value than a mid-first round value. Washington wanted their guy though. The Commanders are giving new quarterback Carson Wentz some talent.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

17. Chargers select DT Zion Johnson

The 6’3”, 312-pound offensive lineman was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl thanks to his sheer power. In the right scheme, Johnson has the talent to develop into a reliable starter.

How he fits: The Chargers offensive line is coming along nicely thanks their draft last year. Johnson is just the latest piece of an important puzzle to protect their franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B+

18. Titans Select WR Treylon Burks

Treylon Burks is a big, talented wide receiver who wins in the same kinds of ways that A.J. Brown does. The problem here is that A.J. Brown is now traded for this particular pick. Burks will be able to win against singles in the NFL often.

How he fits: Brown is the No. 1 receiver on the Titans, now. They will have to find a speedy option to pair with him because his top-end speed isn’t all that. However, he’s still a great pick for what they need with Brown not there anymore.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: C

19. Saints select OT Trevor Penning

After starting all 12 games in 2021, Penning is highly regarded as a first-year starter thanks to his unbelievable competitive drive and athleticism.

How he fits: After losing Terron Armstead in free agency, the Saints had a big hole to fill on the offensive line. Drafting Penning was the likely move.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

20. Steelers select QB Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett isn’t even the best quarterback in the draft, and his small hands will be a hindrance to him at the next level. But teams will love him because he’s tall and can sling it deep. He has a lot of issues with his footwork, but he has a chance to be a star if the Steelers let him develop.

How he fits: Pickett will be the franchise quarterback for the Steelers for the next 10-15 years. He’s a guy who they can build around and be their long-term starter. Their speedy receivers will love this fit, as the former Pittsburgh product will let them run deep as much as they want.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: D

21. Chiefs select CB Trent McDuffie

Despite being below average in size, McDuffie is a consistent cornerback with the personal awareness to develop into a top tier talent.

How he fits: The Chiefs defense was their weakness in 2021 and after the loss of Tyrann Mathieu, they needed to pad their secondary and they chose to do so with a cornerback that nicely fits the culture in KC.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B-

22. Packers select LB Quay Walker

Quay Walker is a bit of a surprise pick but he’s definitely the most athletic linebacker in the draft this year. He’s someone who can play well next to De’Vondre Campbell in the middle of the Eagles defense. He can rush the passer from the interior and also play well in coverage.

How he fits: The Packers got a linebacker who doesn’t need to wear the green dot and be the captain of the defense in Walker. Walker has the talent to play second fiddle and still be an extremely effective linebacker within the defense.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

23. Bills select CB Kaiir Elam

The Bills traded up into the first round to get, which was not needed. Elam, who had a rocky 2021. Despite his turbulent season, he showed improvement and a strong ability to take to coaching.

How he fits: With Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, Ed Oliver, etc., etc., the Bills young defense is quickly turning into one of the best in the league. Elam is a nice rotational piece to a solid secondary.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: C

24. Cowboys select OT Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith is a beastly left tackle prospect from Tulsa. He’s got great footwork and can slot right in as a left tackle or a right tackle. Teams will have trouble getting by him at the next level because of his great anchor and solid frame overall.

How he fits: The Cowboys likely start out with Tyler Smith at right tackle. But over time, expect him to eventually replace Tyron Smith at the left tackle position. Tyler Smith has a long future ahead of him pushing people around in the NFC east.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

25. Ravens select IOL Tyler Linderbaum

Linderbaum possesses the size and power needed to succeed in the NFL, bringing impressive footwork and control to the front line.

How he fits: The Ravens needed to address the center position after losing Bradley Bozeman in free agency. Linderbaum is highly regarded as the best center in the league, although he wasn’t the best player available for Baltimore.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: C+

26. NY Jets select EDGE Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson is John Abraham part two. He’s a great fit for any 3-4 or 4-3 defense and has a ton of speed, agility and intelligence in his pass rush. He’s a high character guy who will lead the defense and get guys around him playing better than expected.

How he fits: The Jets would instantly have a premier pass rusher to pair with Carl Lawson in their defense. Johnson is a monster who fits in perfectly with the defense that uses 4-3 and 3-4 concepts. They have their new pass rushing ace.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

27. Jaguars select LB Devin Lloyd

The former first-team Associated Press All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the year is headed to Jacksonville after the Jaguars traded back in to the first round. Lloyd can play multiple positions but excels in pass rush situations.

How he fits: The Jaguars needed a linebacker to compliment Josh Allen and Foye Oluokun and Lloyd is a reliable option who has potential to develop into a great starter.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B

28. Packers select DL Devonte Wyatt

Devonte Wyatt is the best interior pass rusher in the draft. He has quick hands and creates havoc in the backfield and can destroy the interior of an offensive line. He was the best pass rusher on the national championship Georgia team and played all three downs.

How he fits: Wyatt will start right away next to Kenny Clark keeping blockers off of De’Vondre Campbell and earlier pick Quay Walker. He can create pressure on third downs and will help them dominate the line of scrimmage on defense.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A+

29. Patriots select IOL Cole Strange

Strange has a high football IQ with the ability to read plays early. His swiftness and agility makes him a strong choice on the offensive line.

How he fits: If any team can develop Strange into an elite player, its the Patriots. Now that they have found their next franchise quarterback in Mac Jones, surrounding him with a top tier offensive line has to be the priority. With the right coaching, Strange could develop into a reliable guard.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: C

30. Chiefs select EDGE George Karlaftis

George Karlaftis is a talented pass rusher who fits in the 3-4 and the 4-3 looks that the NFL runs. With the Chiefs, he’ll be keeping his hand in the dirt where he can launch off and build quick speed off the line. He will be best as a complementary rusher in the NFL.

How he fits: With Frank Clark as the primary pass rusher, Karlaftis will be the secondary rusher in Kansas City. He’s a great value here as he’s a late first round talent. The Chiefs will be able to start him right away and have Mike Danna and Joshua Kaindoh rotate in behind him.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A

31. Bengals select S Daxton Hill

Hill is a versatile player that brings a profound combination of speed and situational awareness. He is able to read defenses quickly and locate the ball with ease.

How he fits: The Bengals did a great job in free agency filling many of their biggest roster holes giving them the chance to draft relatively freely. Hill’s talent allows him to play from many spots on the field. If utilized properly, he can be a massive addition to an already great roster.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: B+

32. Vikings select FS Lewis Cine

Lewis Cine is a talented all-around safety and should be an instant starter in the NFL. He’s a heady safety who could end up being a multi-time Pro Bowl player if he’s used in the deep safety role that he was used in while at college. He was a high second round value, so the value is good here.

How he fits: With Harrison Smith at strong safety in Minnesota, the Vikings get the perfect pairing for him. Cine will be able to patrol the deep third for the Vikings and could be a playmaker like Anthony Harris was when he was with them.

2022 NFL Draft Round 1 grade: A  

 

*** This Article was originally published on the ATB Network by Raina Rutschka and Scott Carasik***

 

Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel

 

Use code “FIVE” to receive a matching $100 bonus on Prizepicks