Three prospects for Dolphins fans to keep their eye on in the third round

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The day has finally arrived, as, what’s the equivalent of Christmas morning to many football fans, the NFL draft kicks off Thursday night from Las Vegas, Nevada.

At the moment, prior to potential trades, all but eight teams are preparing for their first-round selection. However, the Miami Dolphins are one of three teams to not have a pick in the first two rounds. That’s because Dolphins general manager Chris Grier made a savvy trade to acquire wide receiver Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs last month.

Miami added the six-time Pro Bowler and sent both pick No. 29 and No. 50 to Kansas City. Miami also threw in a 2022 fourth-round pick as well as 2023 fourth-round and sixth-round picks to land Hill.

The last time Miami was without their two opening-round picks, was following the blockbuster Ricky Williams deal in 2002. So, while there’s a likely wait until the third round this year, Dolphins fans are wondering about the play from Grier. The choices are either to stay put at pick No. 102 or move around the board, something Grier has done in some form early in the process in the last three drafts.

Looking at inside linebackers, interior offensive linemen and running backs as main areas of need, Grier has selected very productive players in his Miami draft history since 2016. Sure, some may not be Dolphins currently, but, historically, Grier has had more hits than misses in terms of finding NFL-ready talent.

Dolphins fans have shown patience in many ways and the first 101 picks will be no different. The advice for today is simply a re-iteration of what Grier suggested to reporters last week – “watch Tyreek Hill highlights.”

It’s the first draft in which Miami doesn’t pick in the top-100, so in a group of prospects where there’s decent depth rather than top-end star power, there are gems waiting to be called by Grier and the Dolphins. These are some names in positions of need to keep an eye on as the draft moves towards Miami’s first pick.

OL Luke Fortner, Kentucky

Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Starting on the offensive line, Fortner is a versatile guard and center, as well as a collegiate team captain. After moving to center from right guard, he earned a first-team All-SEC nod in 2021.

Fortner has the acumen and leadership ability that seems to be coveted by Grier in his screening of prospects. Miami can use a center to compete with Michael Dieter, who was a third-round pick from Wisconsin back in 2019.

The Wildcat may end up being a developmental player who could eventually slide into a spot of need.

LB Channing Tindall, Georgia

Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unclear if he makes it to pick No. 102, but Tindall is an outstanding prospect from a terrific defensive unit. In most analysts’ Top 75, the Dolphins could attempt to move up 25 spots or so, but that could deplete the rest of the 2022 cache of picks. With just No. 125 and a pair of seventh-rounders at their disposal, a trade-up may mean a one-and-done in terms of draft class for Miami.

A prospect like Tindall may warrant that, as his inside position in the defense’s second unit is exactly the kind of player that Miami needs to draft and develop. He wasn’t a starter last season, yet he made his presence felt on the National Champion Bulldogs. He recorded 67 total tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2021.

Tindall’s range and ability to track the ball carrier horizontally is a skill that the Dolphins covet.

RB James Cook, Georgia

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tindall’s teammate, Cook is the brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin. A Miami native, Cook is intriguing to add to the Dolphins’ backfield due to new coach Mike McDaniel’s ability to run scheme and get the best out of his ball carriers.

Although Miami inked Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to deals in March, there’s no certainty in their tenure beyond 2023. Additionally, it’s not like Grier to select a running back early or even in the middle of the draft. In the last three drafts, Grier has used a seventh-round pick on a running back. However, Cook could change that.

The Bulldog clocked a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and his ability to take the toss outside of the hash marks could be a perfect fit with McDaniel’s scheme along with Edmonds, Mostert, and Myles Gaskin, who’s in his final contracted year with Miami.

Cook can also be a receiver out of the backfield with chunk-play ability. If there was ever a perfect runner and fit for a new coach, at a draft spot that equals his value, Cook could very well be Grier’s first third-round running back selection since 2016, when Miami selected Kenyan Drake.

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