With the 2022 Senior Bowl down at Mobile, Alabama, now in the books, some clarity is settling in as the offseason picks up steam for the Miami Dolphins. 

Now that the Dolphins have announced the official hiring of former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as head coach, the team can move forward with his vision for the future. 

This, of course, makes evaluating NFL Draft prospects and free-agent targets a much more targeted exercise. McDaniel comes from the Shanahan coaching tree. Considering this and his recent experience coordinating the 49ers running game that has been among the best in the league the past few seasons, we can start to get an idea of what prospects might be targets for McDaniel and the staff he’ll have assembled shortly. 

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Taking this and my observations from last week’s Senior Bowl into account, let’s glance through a few prospects from Mobile worth keeping an eye on as the NFL Draft inches closer during Super Bowl week.


  • WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State University: Watson’s name is one you’ve likely seen since the Senior Bowl. He impressed throughout the week and is now on just about everyone’s radar if he wasn’t before. What interests me about Watson, however, is something more specific than most are probably looking into. His college career was played at NDSU, an incredibly successful run-first offense in the FCS. I haven’t watched the film, but you don’t play ball at a program like that and end up being as successful as Watson was at WR without being asked to block with some frequency. With a 6-4, 211 pound frame that also features good length, Watson has the physical makeup to be the type of receiver that could help out in a Shanahan-style running game as a blocker especially if he packs some more weight on as a pro. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands, and his college experience and size adds some unique appeal for Miami. 


  • OL Zion Johnson, Boston College: Much like the running back position, the Fins need serious help in the trenches on offense. For McDaniel’s likely vision on offense to work, fresh faces will need to be added on the line. Free agency will likely bring in new bodies, but Johnson is one very solid target in the draft. It was difficult to see Johnson directly at the game from my seats, but what I did see from him at the center position looked impressive. When Johnson was in at center, the National offensive line held up much better than it did without him. Johnson projects to play either guard or center in the NFL and would be a good fit in a zone-heavy scheme like what McDaniel will likely build in Miami.

  • OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota: Sitting just behind the National team sideline during the senior bowl game, there was one player that stood out head and shoulders (literally) above the rest: Faalele, the massive lineman who played at right tackle for the game. Built like a lifted Mack truck, he stands at 6-8 and weighs in at nearly 400 pounds. You could tell from the game that he isn’t a “fluid” athlete at the tackle position like some are, but he moved unbelievably well for a man of his size. He was routinely able to keep edge rushers out front by kick-sliding wide, or worst case using his massive strength to toss them too far behind the play to have any sort of impact on the quarterback. He’ll need polishing at the next level, but has the raw talent and physical makeup to be an enticing prospect. If McDaniel is looking for an absolute beast and people-mover at the tackle position for a run-heavy offense, Faalele is certainly worth a look.


  • EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State: Johnson performed so well in Senior Bowl practices that he actually quit while he was ahead a few days prior to Saturday’s game. I was bummed not to see him play, but it was a smart move on his part – he was fantastic to start the week and didn’t have much else to prove. Johnson will be a hot commodity come draft day and is a talented and versatile edge player with a high football IQ and relentless motor. Whether Emmanuel Ogbah returns to the team or not, having two young players like Johnson and Jaelan Phillips in Miami’s edge rotation would be a boon for the entire defense. Offense is the priority this offseason, but Johnson showed out at Senior Bowl practices and should be on Miami’s radar. 


  • LB Troy Andersen, Montana State: As someone from Montana, I had to include the linebacker who played his college ball in Bozeman. But believe me, Andersen has earned his way onto many Senior Bowl “winner” lists in the past week aside from this one. His athleticism stood out all week in Mobile, and during the game the National coaching staff even used Andersen to spy QB and athletic phenom Malik Willis on the other side of the ball. He’s rangy, extremely active in the run game, and showed some comfortability moving in reverse during the week as well. With his athleticism, he could be used at OLB to do much more than just move downhill and rush the passer. Outside of his Senior Bowl success, Andersen also has All-American honors from MSU on both sides of the ball and was the runner-up for the best defensive player in the country in 2021. He might be an FCS prospect from Montana, but you wouldn’t know it from how he fit right in at the Senior Bowl.


  • Honorable Mention: RB Rachaad White, ASU / EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota / DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma / S Leon O’Neal Jr., Texas A&M / EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

(Thanks for reading! For more content foll0w me on Twitter @EvanMorris72. Also, go check out my little bro’s (SublimingSword) new mixtape on YouTube out now. FinsUp!)