Miami Hurricanes DEs Deandre Johnson and Zach McCloud sign as UFAs

Nov 20, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Hurricanes defensive ends Deandre Johnson and Zach McCloud have signed undrafted free agent contracts. Johnson signed with the Dolphins and McCloud with the Minnesota Vikings. Johnson came to Miami for his final season of college football as a transfer from Tennessee. McCloud spent six years with Miami.

McCloud was a linebacker for his first four seasons as part of a trio of four-year starters with Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman. McCloud redshirted during the 2019 season partially due to diminished playing time. In 2020 McCloud was moved to defensive end. McCloud received an extra season due to Covid in 2020.

In parts of six seasons with Miami, McCloud had 192 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 11.0 sacks, four pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Johnson had 26 tackles, 8.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks in his one season with Miami. In four seasons with Tennessee Johnson had 58 tackles,15.5 TFLs, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Esezi Otomewo from Minnesota was the only DE the Vikings selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Minnesota also chose LB Brian Asamoah from Oklahoma. The Vikings play a 3-4 defense. That could benefit McCloud with his experience playing DE and LB. McCloud played weak and strongside LB for the Miami Hurricanes.

Zadarius Smith is projected as the starting SLB for Minnesota. Smith played one regular-season game with Green Bay due to an injury in 2021. Danielle Hunter is listed as a DE but also projected as the starting WLB for Minnesota. Hunter played only seven games for the Vikings in 2021. McCloud is third on the depth chart at WLB.

Johnson will have a chance to learn from former Miami DE Jaelan Phillips as the Dolphins begin their inaugural season under Mike McDaniel. The Dolphins also play a 3-4 defense. Johnson played outside LB as an edge rusher at Tennessee. Phillips has adapted to SLB with the Dolphins from a 4-3 DE with the Hurricanes.

The Dolphins drafted Georgia OLB Channing Tindall with their first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft in the third round and OLB Cameron Goode from California in the seventh round. Goode has experience playing in a 3-4 and had 36 TFLs and 20.5 sacks during his college career. Johnson will have a difficult challenge with the Dolphins.

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Opposite Phillips is Andrew VanGinkle as the WLB. Johnson signed with the Dolphins after impressing them at their local workout day per Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald. The versatility that Johnson and McCloud have should help both of them have a chance to make the Miami and Minnesota rosters.