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Dolphins Rookie Film Study: QB Skylar Thompson

Doing a deep dive on Miami Dolphins 2022 seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson examining various aspects of his game

The Miami Dolphins selected Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson with the 247th pick of the 2022 NFL draft just more than a week ago, and the former Wildcats signal-caller joined a quarterback room composed of Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Chris Streveler.

Thompson shouldn’t concern himself a ton with the ladder of those three names as Steveler likely will be his main competition this fall.

Thompson was one of the oldest and most experienced quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class. He saw his first game action in 2017 and then became Kansas State’s de facto starter for the next four seasons.

Thompson was nothing if not productive as he finished his college career with 7,214 passing yards, 1,087 rushing yards, 42 touchdown passes, 26 rushing touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.

However, stats are just a piece of the puzzle when evaluating prospects. We’ve decided to dive into some Kansas State All-22 to decipher how Thompson can help the Dolphins this season and in the future.

As a seventh-round quarterback, Thompson does have plenty of issues he needs to iron out in his game. With that said, there also are plays like the clip above where he flashes enough skill to be a viable NFL backup.

The play above stands out in particular because it’s a more than 40-yard throw across the field for a touchdown with pinpoint accuracy. Thompson doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world, and it does limit him, but when he’s able to set his feet, he can deliver some strikes down the field.

Like almost every quarterback, Thompson thrives on play-action fakes. That’s an important box to have checked for someone playing under new Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, who runs a Shanahan-inspired offense focused on play-action concepts.

The other box any “Shanahan quarterback” needs to have checked is quick-game prowess, and that is where Thompson is most accurate. He does a good job getting the ball into his playmakers' hands quickly, allowing them to get easy yards after the catch.

Another standout trait from Thompson’s film was his mobility. He’s not a scrambler, a quarterback that will burn defenses on designed runs, per se, but he has enough functional mobility.

The play above is a good example of what that looks like. Thompson is pressured early after the snap but has the athletic ability to slide to his left, step up in the pocket, and then deliver a bullet for a completion and first down.

Thompson’s running ability should be an asset to the Dolphins in some short-yardage situations if he’s forced to play this season. Kansas State used him frequently in goal-line and fourth-and-short situations, something Miami should do too.

Thompson’s mobility and ability to throw under pressure both check the box and when combined with his flashes of downfield placement, short-game prowess, and experience it makes sense why Miami took a shot on him in the seventh round.

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The reason Thompson was drafted in the seventh round and not higher is for one simple reason — he’s not accurate. Thompson’s career 62.5 completion percentage isn’t too bad, but completion percentage is an incredibly flawed statistic.

Not all throws are created equal, and Thompson’s accuracy drops off drastically the further he pushes the ball down the field. It didn’t result in a ton of turnovers while at Kansas State, but the NFL is going to have much better players.

The throw above is a good example of how even just a slight miss can lead to an INT. The receiver let the ball go through his hands, but this is an easy throw for any NFL quarterback, and Thompson sailed just a bit.

Football is a game of inches and quarterbacks who stick in the NFL have to make this throw consistently on target, and Thompson just doesn’t right now.

Another facet of accuracy is placement. Placement is judging whether a quarterback puts the football on the correct shoulder of the receiver or whether a quarterback appropriately throws with touch.

Thompson’s placement in the short area of the field is acceptable for an NFL quarterback. However, just like his general accuracy, his placement starts to waver on longer throws. The play above is a prime example of how bad placement can limit a quarterback’s effectiveness.

Watch the receiver at the top of the screen who is running a dig route. Thompson takes a while to get through his progressions, so the receiver ends up crossing the entire field while being wide open. Thompson eventually finds him, but his throw forces the receiver to slide to the ground.

If Thompson threw this ball on the receiver's other shoulder, it would have allowed him to stay on his feet, turn upfield, and pick up significantly more yards. Thompson’s poor placement on throws down the field forces the offense to leave a lot of meat on the bone.

The last limitation to make of note with Thompson is his arm strength. He has flashes of quality arm strength, like the first play in this article, but there are many more throws that look like the one above.

Kansas State’s running back is running a wheel route on this play, and he’s open for what could be a potential touchdown. Thompson just can’t quite get the ball there. He needed to put more arc on it and drop it over the top, but instead the ball died on him a couple of yards early.

There are a lot of underthrown passes on Thompson’s film that make the life of his receivers much harder than it has to be. Thompson’s arm strength isn’t prohibitively bad, but it’s definitely not a strength of his game either.

Thompson has some traits that translate well to Miami’s scheme like short-game accuracy, mobility, and experience running play-action concepts from under center. However, Thompson’s limited accuracy, placement, and arm strength could force him to remain a third quarterback for most of his career barring major improvement.