Dolphins player profile: S Verone McKinley III

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Following a massively successful offseason with numerous acquisitions and strategic contract moves, the Miami Dolphins put the icing on the cake with a slew of low-risk, high-potential undrafted free agents.

The 2022 UDFA class has 13 now-signed members who will fight for a roster spot or a place on the practice squad. The junior varsity group had been the starting point for a number of now full-time Dolphins, such as Nik Needham and Robert Jones.

This draft class for Miami was light thanks to the trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that netted the Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. While Miami only selected four players in the draft, they supplemented those picks with over a dozen free agents, some of who are expected to make a run at the 53-man roster.

On the top of that list, is a player that arguably should’ve been drafted – Oregon safety Verone McKinley III.

All he did in 2021 was tie the national college football lead in interceptions with six. He was also given first-team All-Pac-12 and first-team All-American honors.

McKinley was a collegiate teammate of Jevon Holland, the Dolphins’ second-year safety star. Holland had a glowing reference for his secondary defensive mate.

“His talent’s going to rise to the top,” Holland told Miami reporters during a May press conference. “He fits right in with the culture of the team.”

McKinley is similar to Holland in terms of playstyle, being equal parts hitmaker and pass-defender. Last season, he recorded 77 total tackles and six passes defended.

The former Duck is aware of his opportunity.

“Learning all the safety spots and just growing,” he said during OTAs. “Safety, nickel whatever. Just trying to be a sponge, essentially. Come in, learn the defense and learn special teams as well.”

There’s a lot of hype around McKinley’s potential, and he already comes in with a ready-made nickname, “The General.” Ironically, the nickname was given in 2020, the year Holland opted out of the college football season, and McKinley was the one to step into the leadership role.

These two are once again part of the same battalion, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them on the field together at one point during the 2022 season. McKinley could be an ultimate depth defensive back for Miami at safety, as Miami already has a number of viable options with Holland, Brandon Jones and Eric Rowe.

Regardless of the current group on the roster, his talent is too great to let slip to the open market, so with a draft class of only four players, it’s rather safe to just assume “The General,” is a de facto member of that squadron.

McKinley will continue trying to prove throughout minicamp, OTAs and eventually training camp, leading into a trio of pre-season games before the long haul of the 2022 season, a season that should see McKinley in orange and aqua as a member of the active roster.

List

Way-too-early Dolphins 53-man roster projection