The Miami Dolphins are entering a pivotal year in their history. Mike McDaniel enters his first season as head coach, and the team arguably has the most talent we’ve seen since the Dan Marino era. However, many players’ fates lie in their production this year.
Namely, this is considered a make-or-break year for Tua Tagovailoa, who has had a divisive first two seasons. If he fails to take the next step, there is a high chance we see him replaced before the 2023 season.
There are several players on the team who appear ready to take the next step. It’s difficult to predict Miami Dolphins breakout players, but the stars seem to be aligning for these three players in particular.
Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis had an up-and-down start to last season. Miami had given up significant yardage on the ground in the first two weeks, but after he went down with a knee injury, the impact he had on the team began to show.
After week one, Miami lost seven straight games, and their run defense was a large part of it. Even though he only missed three games, it was clear that he wasn’t 100 percent. However, as he became closer to full form, Miami’s defense transformed itself. They won significantly more up front. However, it was others who reaped the benefits.
It’s possible, however, that production and numbers align for Davis this year. Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips, and Andrew Van Ginkel have all improved in their time here. Thus, they will all garner more attention from offensive coordinators and O-lines. If they see more double teams, it’s likely Miami’s interior lineman, namely Davis, get free more often, wreaking havoc in the run and pass game.
Safety Jevon Holland had one of the best rookie seasons Dolphins fans have seen in quite some time. Playing in centerfield, Holland had the middle of the field on lockdown. He showed the ball-hawking ability that he was praised for at Oregon, and even snagged two interceptions. However, there is still room for improvement.
Holland passed the eye test, but his stats were a primary reason that he didn’t gain the attention of the national media. If he is able to turn more of his PBUs into INTs, it’s very possible he’s in the same conversation as All-Pro safeties like Kevin Byard and Jordan Poyer.
Entering his second year in Miami’s defensive scheme, there will be a new level of comfort for Holland. When you combine that with his supporting cast, it raises the likelihood of a breakout season for one of the Dolphins most promising young players.
The dark horse pick of the group, a breakout season for Noah Igbinoghene is likely just wishful thinking. Miami’s cornerbacks are arguably their strongest group, and the first round pick has struggled to see the field. Furthermore, his play, in limited opportunity, hasn’t been promising.
However, the tools with Igbinoghene are all there, and it was known that he would take some time to develop. Over the last two years, the 22 year old has sat under two of the best corners in the league: Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Being able to learn from them without the pressure of stepping in right away allows for a focus on improvement.
Igbinoghene likely won’t see significant snaps outside, but if slated nickel starter Nik Needham struggles, it’s possible they look in the former Auburn Tiger’s direction. He has all of the athletic tools and is one of the youngest players on the team, so a major leap isn’t out of the question.
The Miami Dolphins’ breakout potential is the highest we’ve seen in years, and Igbinoghene, as well as Davis and Holland, show a potential to help this team reach new heights in 2022.