Twelve offensive takeaways after watching all 14 Dolphins’ camp practices in Miami Gardens

Al Diaz/

Reporters have been able to watch 14 Dolphins practices on the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium during training camp, with the two remaining sessions (Wednesday and Thursday joint practices with the Eagles) also open to fans. After that, the next full practice open to reporters won’t be until May.

Twelve offensive notes and observations after watching all of those sessions:

What’s remarkable about seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson is not only does he look like an NFL quarterback (not a practice squad project), but he looks better than former Arizona Cardinal first-rounder (and ex-Dolphin) Josh Rosen ever did in a Dolphins uniform.

Even though the Dolphins — under previous coaches — have usually kept only two quarterbacks, here’s why Thompson needs to make the 53-man roster:

There’s a good chance he would be claimed by another team if the Dolphins try to move him to the practice squad. And Thompson has displayed enough skills in practices and games that it would be reasonable to envision him becoming a No. 2 quarterback eventually.

With the Dolphins already $2 million above the 2023 cap, it would help Miami’s financial situation if Thompson can be a cheap backup in 2023 instead of the Dolphins needing to spend millions on a veteran No. 2.

Consider that Teddy Bridgewater can earn as much as $10 million this season, with a $6.5 million cap hit. Conversely, Thompson’s salary and cap hit in 2023 would be $890,000. So that’s substantial savings that could be used on another position if Thompson proves good enough to be a No. 2 in 2023.

Matt Waldman, who has doing scouting evaluations for different media outlets since 2006, said: “Skylar Thompson has the tools and craft to develop into one of the great anomalies of draft history. He’s a compelling quarterback prospect whose career doesn’t fit the rubric of traditional draft analysis.”

The view on Tua Tagovailoa: He has had a good camp. It would have been very good if not for the string of interceptions last week — six in three days. He rebounded well with strong efforts Saturday against Las Vegas and in Tuesday’s practice.

His accuracy on several deep throws to Tyreek Hill and others offer hope that he can beat defenses over the top. He’s sharp on short routes (a strength his first two seasons) and seems better on intermediate routes (which was a shortcoming the past two seasons, according to metrics sites).

But he must eliminate the bad decisions, and there were too many last week (albeit in hurry-up drills) after very few during the first three weeks of camp.

Though they have the cap space to do it, I will be surprised if the Dolphins are willing to spend a combined $4.6 million on No. 3 and No. 4 running backs, with Sony Michel due $2.1 million ($500,000 is guaranteed) and Myles Gaskin $2.5 million, none of which is guaranteed.

Salvon Ahmed’s speed, ability to create matchup problems in the passing game on wheel routes and low salary ($895,000) make the case for moving on from either Michel (who has -2 yards on four preseason game carries) or Gaskin and keeping Ahmed as the No. 4 back. If Michel makes it, that decision will be based on past body of work — not preseason and camp performance.

Zaquandre White, who mimicked an Antonio Brown celebration after his TD catch Saturday, has shown enough to make the practice squad. Gerrid Doaks runs hard but drops too many passes.

Chase Edmonds — who has speed and impressive instincts — is going to be a significant upgrade at starting running back over Gaskin. Consider this: If Edmonds had enough carries to qualify, he would be tied with Dalvin Cook for fifth among active backs in per-carry average at 4.7. Gaskin is below average at 3.8 per carry in his career.

Edmonds has a bit more elusiveness as a receiver; his 7.2 career reception average tops Gaskin’s 6.9. Besides being the Dolphins’ best first-down back, Edmonds probably is their best third-down passing situation back, too. Edmonds was 17th among all NFL backs and receivers in average receiving yards after contact last season.

With Trent Sherfield likely to stick as the No. 5 receiver, I’m not convinced the Dolphins keep six.

Braylon Sanders and Lynn Bowden Jr. offer the most upside if Miami keeps a sixth receiver. But Bowden didn’t get offensive snaps until the second half Saturday — after working as a returner in the first half — and hasn’t been targeted a lot in practice. There will always be a Preston Williams, Mohamed Sanu or River Cracraft type available if there’s an injury during the season.

I’m not convinced Sanders would make it through waivers unclaimed, not after a strong camp, including several deep-ball catches in practices. Perhaps he would. But it’s a gamble. He has shown why he averaged 21.1 yards on 69 college receptions at Mississippi, playing in the Southeastern Conference, America’s toughest conference.

Considering the 49ers used two tight end sets only 10 percent of the time last season, it might be a challenge to get a lot of regular-season work for Hunter Long, who has done a good job getting open on passing routes in camp. Long had his best week of camp last week, coach Mike McDaniel said.

Last season, Mike Gesicki played 828 (or 72 percent) of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps, and Durham Smythe played 716 (62 percent). Both of those numbers could go down with the Dolphins likely using a fullback (Alec Ingold) or an extra receiver on some plays that would have called for an extra tight end last season.

Expecting Gesicki’s blocking to jump from subpar to good is probably a stretch; if he can get to adequate, there’s a way to get him significant snaps, though likely not as many as last year.

Though Mel Kiper Jr. expressed concerns about Erik Ezukanma’s drops at Texas Tech, his hands have been a positive in camp. You need that attribute to make the type of plays like the brilliant one-handed catch Saturday. And his route-running has been better than expected coming from a gimmick offense at Texas Tech.

Though Sherfield has had a very good camp, it will be fascinating to see what Ezukanma can do against a team’s worst rotational defensive back as a No. 4 receiver.

During Saturday’s game, “in the middle of the game actually, I was kind of messing up a little bit early on, and [receivers coach Wes Welker] told us, ‘You’re here to take a grown man’s job,’” Ezukanma said. “That really resonated with me. I went back out there and just did everything I could to make plays when the ball came my way.”

Austin Jackson, slimmer and confident, looks competent at right tackle, particularly in a system that maximizes his type of athleticism. He has been fine in pass protection during limited reps in games this preseason, but the entire line must be better with run blocking.

And Liam Eichenberg’s work ethic and sound mechanics give him a chance to succeed at left guard. I’m cautiously hopeful on both. Neither might become great, but neither has been overwhelmed, either.

Center Connor Williams, the converted left guard, has had more than a dozen high snaps in practice, and that has disrupted several plays.

The good news is that Williams has demonstrated the skill set as a blocker to play center in this wide zone scheme, and he hasn’t had a single snap that sailed over a quarterback’s head or rolled on the ground.

Robert Jones, who got a start at right tackle in last season’s finale against New England, said he has taken only one snap at tackle during training camp; he has played every other snap at guard.

And with Larnel Coleman’s play remaining erratic and unproven Greg Little only now coming back from injury, there’s no greater concern on the roster than backup tackle, considering Terron Armstead has never played a full season. This is a huge week of Little, who returned to team drills Tuesday.

Rookie left tackle Kelln Diesch, given a guaranteed $140,000 to sign after the draft (most of any Dolphins undrafted rookie), hasn’t challenged; he played no offensive snaps against Las Vegas.

Jones and Michael Deiter are likely to stick as the team’s sixth and seventh linemen, and Solomon Kindley — who can move people in the run game — could make it as an eighth. But unless Coleman or Little is very good this week, Miami might need to trade for a No. 3 tackle, or find one on the waiver wire.

The Dolphins have had several tight end experiments in recent years, converting a Montana State defensive end (Bryce Sterk) to tight end in 2020 and converting a basketball player (Jibri Blount) to tight end last season. Neither experiment worked out.

But the decision to sign Idaho State rookie receiver Tanner Conner and make him a tight end could potentially be fruitful; he has strong hands, very good speed (10.5 in the 100 meters) and good size (6-3). Conner should have a chance to develop on the practice squad; there’s no room on the 53.

Conner was wearing a brace on his left leg Tuesday and was limited in practice.

It is becoming more difficult to find a path for Cethan Carter to make the 53-man roster; his entire $2.3 million salary and $2.5 million cap hit are wiped away if he’s cut. His struggles Saturday (one poor run blocking play, two poor plays on pass blocking) followed a camp that has been merely adequate.