Dolphins' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2022

Dolphins' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

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    The Miami Dolphins already know who the biggest star of their 2022 NFL draft class is going to be.

    Tyreek Hill is already their first-, second- and fourth-round pick. The Dolphins sent those three selections, along with 2023 fourth- and sixth-round picks, to bring the explosive receiver to South Beach from Kansas City.

    That leaves their third-round pick, No. 102 overall from the San Francisco 49ers, as the first time the Dolphins are expected to be on the clock.

    That doesn't mean the Dolphins won't be able to add a prospect who can make an immediate impact. It only means finding quality players who are being overlooked elsewhere is going to be all the more important for Miami's front office.

    Here's a look at the top prospects they should be targeting with their first pick.

IOL Cade Mays, Tennessee

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    The Dolphins have invested plenty of draft capital in the offensive line. Yet it still remains an area of concern.

    Signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams will go a long way toward solidifying the left side of the line. Armstead is capable of elite play at tackle, and Williams was a good guard—albeit one who drew 15 penalties last season, per PFF.

    However, the right side should be far from settled. The Dolphins recently invested premium picks in Robert Hunt, Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenberg.

    Miami gave up a league-leading 235 pressures last season, with Jackson and Eichenberg grading out at 49.9 and 50.7 respectively, per PFF.

    Cade Mays (scouting report) would allow the Dolphins to add another young lineman to the mix. His versatility should be attractive. He has collegiate starts at all four guard and tackle spots.

    His pass protection as a guard should be attractive; he surrendered just five total pressures at right tackle last season, per PFF.

LB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati

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    Jerome Baker is a certified stud, but the rest of the Dolphins linebacker corps makes the idea of adding talent through the draft a good option.

    That could cause the Dolphins to turn to another Ohio-born linebacker to bolster the group. Darrian Beavers (scouting report) brings a lot to the table that would make sense in Miami's scheme.

    "While Beavers may not be a man-to-man cover linebacker, his work in zone coverage and as a blitzer should still give him a role in any defense," B/R draft scout Derrik Klassen wrote in his report on Beavers. "He can also flex down to the edge in certain packages, similar to what the New England Patriots do with some of their linebackers."

    With defensive coordinator Josh Boyer sticking around, the Dolphins and Patriots schemes will continue to be closely related. Beavers' versatility to be an off-ball linebacker while taking some reps as an edge defender is something that makes a lot of sense.

    Like Baker, Beavers has shown the ability to be disruptive in the backfield. He has 18.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks over his final two seasons in CincinnatiThat would be a welcome addition on the Dolphins defense.

CB Marcus Jones, Houston

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    The Dolphins have one of the NFL's best outside cornerback duos in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. However, the Dolphins played dime defensive packages more than any team in the league last year, per Sports Info Solutions.

    That means continuing to upgrade the secondary with slot defenders should be on their itinerary over the draft weekend.

    Someone like Marcus Jones (scouting report) makes a lot of sense in that regard.

    The 5'8", 174-pound defensive back probably doesn't have the size to be a traditional outside corner, but his physicality and quickness should make him a successful slot cornerback. According to PFF, he allowed a 53.5 passer rating when targeted and racked up five interceptions during his final season in Houston.

    As a bonus, Jones was one of the best return men in college football. He had more than 2,000 kick return yards and 800 punt return yards with nine touchdowns.

    Drafting Jones would give Miami another defensive back to play in its dime packages and a return man who could allow Jaylen Waddle to focus on playing receiver.