The Miami Dolphins may not have drafted a center in the 2022 NFL draftbut a lineman who can play the position was among undrafted free agents picked up by the team following the draft.
Arkansas alum Ty Clary is one of the double-digit undrafted prospects the team is signing in the aftermath of the draft on Saturday night. Clary alternated between guard and center for the Razorbacks and even played his entire junior season in 2019 as a starting center.
In addition to Clary, the Dolphins, according to a league source, are expected to sign: Miami Hurricanes defensive end Deandre Johnson, Ole Miss wide receiver Braylon Sanders, South Carolina running back ZaQuandre White, Minnesota offensive lineman Blaise Andries, Arizona State tackle Kellen Diesch, Oregon safety Verone McKinley III, Illinois edge defender Owen Carney, FIU punter Tommy Heatherly, Louisiana Tech defensive back Elijah Hamilton and Texas A&M-Commerce defensive back Kader Kohou. Nebraska also announced Cornhuskers defensive lineman Ben Stille was heading to Miami.
“We’re in the process of working through that here as the draft ends,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said Saturday night following Miami’s four picks. “We’ll be signing players, like always, and getting ready for the rookie minicamp.”
With just four draft picks, the Dolphins have the roster space and owner Steve Ross’ willingness to spend as an edge on other teams looking to sign top undrafted prospects.
“End of the day, the good players that are left, it always gets very competitive with the money,” Grier said.
Last year, the Dolphins gave offensive lineman Robert Jones $100,000 in guaranteed money as a priority free agent who ended up making Miami’s active roster and starting the regular-season finale. Seventh-round picks generally pull in a little more than $100,000 in signing bonus money, but their contracts aren’t guaranteed.
Center was a position Miami was expected to address in the draft with Michael Deiter, who missed half of last season with a foot injury and more career experience at guard, the only player on the roster at the position. Grier said the Dolphins had draft targets at various positions they wanted to trade up for, but teams wouldn’t bite on a deal. They stuck to their draft board when their picks arrived.
“We wanted competition at every position,” Grier said. “We still do have some competition with the offensive line group, with what we’ve gone through here in the spring. [Coach] Mike [McDaniel] and the coaching staff have been very excited about the group.”
Two of the undrafted pickups, Johnson and Heatherly, remain in Miami, where they played college football for UM and FIU, respectively. Johnson is a tall, lean pass rusher who had 4 1/2 sacks last season and also played in high school at Miami Southridge. Heatherly brings another punting leg to the roster after the team signed veteran Thomas Morstead this offseason.
Carney, a Miami Central High alum, returns home after playing for the Illini. He ranks ninth in Illinois program history with nine career sacks, and last year posted 46 tackles, eight for loss, and 6 1/2 sacks.
McKinley reunites with his former Ducks safety mate Jevon Holland with the Dolphins after Holland’s standout rookie campaign as an early second-round pick in 2021. He had six interceptions and 77 tackles for Oregon last season.
As opposed to Clary, Minnesota’s Andries did not play center in college, which is the only position on the line he didn’t play among his career starts for the Golden Gophers. Diesch played exclusively at left tackle at ASU after transferring to the Sun Devils following four years as a reserve at Texas A&M.
Sanders had 24 receptions for 549 yards and four touchdowns at Ole Miss last season. White rushed for 583 yards on 88 carries for the Gamecocks last season after originally going to Florida State to play linebacker earlier in his career.
Hamilton finished his college career at La. Tech after initially playing for Vanderbilt. He had 20-plus tackles each of his last two seasons at the two schools.
Stille, at 6-5, 290, is capable of lining up in multiple spots along the defensive line. He finished his career at Nebraska with 20 consecutive starts and collected 42 tackles, six for loss, and 1 1/2 sacks in 2021.
The Dolphins are likely to sign upwards of a dozen total undrafted players to fill out the training camp roster.
Miami drafted Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall in the third roundTexas Tech wide receiver Erik Ezukanma in the fourth and California outside linebacker Cameron Goode and Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson as seventh-round selections.
This story will be updated.