Mike McDaniel speaks wonders about Miami Dolphins youngsters Jaelan Phillips and Erik Ezukanma

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel had some major praise for youngsters Jaelan Phillips and Erik Ezukanma on Tuesday.

Phillips, a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has been one of the team’s best pass rushers over the last two seasons, tallying 15.5 sacks. He started 15 of his 17 games in the 2022 campaign, but it appears that he’s taking another step in his rise to stardom for Miami.

This is a great sign for the Dolphins, as they are hoping to have an improved pass rush in the 2023 campaign. Phillips will get a whole season of playing alongside Bradley Chubb, who was acquired at the trade deadline in the 2022 season.

Both players are young and talented pass rushers, so Miami could have two cornerstones on the edges for years to come.

As for Ezukanma, he’s heading into his second season in the NFL after being picked in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, Ezukanma appeared in just one game, making one reception for three yards.

However, McDaniel believes that he has made great strides after having to learn so much in his first season in the league.

It’s a great sign to see that Ezukanma is making progress in the offense, as he could become an option for the team at receiver alongside Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. With tight end Mike Gesicki leaving in free agency this offseason, the Dolphins will have some shoes to fill on offense in the 2023 season.

Miami made the playoffs in the 2022 campaign, but it didn’t get to see its full potential since starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa missed the team’s final two regular season games and lone playoff matchup with a concussion he suffered in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.

If the Dolphins are going to take the next step as contenders, they’ll need key players to stay healthy and young players like Phillips and Ezukanma to keep developing.

Phillips’ role in 2023 is a little more set in stone than Ezukanma’s, but that doesn’t mean that the young receiver can’t make an impact. As the season approaches, Dolphins fans should get a better gauge of where Ezukanma fits into the offense for the 2023 campaign.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.