Skylar Thompson has become the hot name around Dolphins camp. Racking up 450 yards 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in preseason Thompson has inserted himself into the 53-man roster conversation.
But as cut-down day arrives should the Dolphins seriously consider keeping the rookie out of Kansas State, or is he really only a candidate for the practice squad?
THE CASE FOR SKYLAR THOMPSON
Skylar Thompson has looked very good in preseason, notching 218 yards and a 71.4% completion rate against the Buccaneers in preseason week 1 was just the start to his excellent run on the field.
His 9/10, 129-yards and a touchdown against the Raiders earned him a 93.9 passing grade from PFF. In fact Thompson’s only incompletion in that game was a drop by Lynn Bowden Jr.
Dolphins new QB’s coach Darrell Bevell has done a great job of teaching Thompson the Dolphins scheme, and putting him in a position to succeed. For his part Thompson is clearly a fast learner and can progress through his reads with speed and accuracy.
So Thompson has all of the skills you’re looking for in an NFL QB, and as a seventh-round draft pick he’s also extremely cheap carrying a cap hit of just $725,554 should he make the 53-man roster.
With an injury prone starting QB, and an injury prone backup having a cost-efficient third string QB who already knows the system on the roster is surely ideal. And when we look ahead the cost-benefits become ever more apparent.
In each of the last two-seasons, owing to Tagovailoa’s injury history the Dolphins have spent $5-million on Jacoby Brissett, and $6.5-million on Teddy Bridgewater as the backup QB option. If the Dolphins continue to do that in coming years they will be wasting money when they really need as players like Hill ($31.2m), Howard ($24.3m), Armstead ($20m) begin to really bite into the cap.
Developing a cost-effective backup is clearly a more favourable option. Especially one with the skillset of Skylar Thompson.
THE CASE AGAINST SKYLAR THOMPSON
Whilst Thompson has excelled in his opportunities in the preseason it should be noted that he was always playing against backups. In the modern NFL starters get very little run out in preseason and this allows more marginal players to get their chance to prove themselves.
However, when evaluating a QB seeing them against lesser competition really doesn’t help you that much. On the flip side of course is the fact that Thompson also didn’t play with the starting receivers, so he was at a disadvantage. The issue with that is that the second/third/fourth stringers he was throwing to are also the ones he knows best from practice.
So while he looks good on film, it’s important we recognise that he’s not playing against elite defences. That doesn’t automatically rule him out of consideration but it is an important caveat. QB’s can look great against backups.
But there are two main reasons why, for me, Skylar Thompson is only practice squad material. Reason one is that he’s not ready to start an NFL game for any decent period of time. With Tua Tagovailoa being somewhat injury prone it’s conceivable that the backup QB will have to start at least a few games in 2022.
When we couple that with the fact that Teddy Bridgewater is an able backup, albeit with a long injury history, and he is guaranteed $5-million this season it’s pretty clear that Skylar Thompson would be the number three QB.
Which brings us to reason number two: carrying three QB’s is a luxury the Dolphins can not afford. With the dynamic offensive scheme that coach Mike McDaniel implements, the stresses on WR, RB, and OL are massive. Carrying an extra one of those is way more important that using a spot on a position you hope never sees the field.
Reid Sinnett was the Dolphins fans favourite QB in 2021 preseason and was eventually poached by the Eagles during the season when Miami attempted to send him back to the practice squad. How did Sinnett do in preseason? 25/48 – 254 yards – 2 TD – 1 INT. Hardly impressive, nor should it be for a third-string QB who is a developmental prospect.
And this is where Skylar Thompson sits. He’s a developmental prospect that looks great against backups. He has been marginally better than Sinnett was last year in preseason, but not enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster.