Sunday, August 1, 2021

Dolphins looking to 2021

After this weekend’s season ending teardown we now know that Miami will be going into the 2021 NFL Draft with the 3rd and 18th  1st round picks. The loss to Buffalo highlighted how far we still have to go to be genuine contenders but ending the season at 10-6 should be seen as a massive step forward (many “fans” seem to forget we’re still in the rebuilding process).

It’s ironic that pre free agency, the draft and the dreaded Covid hitting, it could be argued that WR was our strongest offensive position. So, with the draft in mind let’s take a look at some of the talent that could help propel us to the next stage in the development.

Before we start, spoiler alert, I haven’t even contemplated looking at Quarterbacks. Tua needs time, it’s as simple as that. We can argue that he’s been out performed by the other Quarterbacks in his rookie class. You can counter argue that he hasn’t had the same weapons at his disposal. You can counter argue that with Fitzpatrick has managed to get the offence moving with the same personnel… Gailey didn’t use the playbook as effectively… etc etc. 

The fact is the current situation surrounding Tua is an oxymoron. If you think Tua isn’t the answer, you’re wrong. If you think he is the answer, you’re wrong. We simply don’t have a big enough sample size or a fair representation of what he can offer. Unlike the other rookies, he wasn’t playing leading up to the draft he was rehabbing.

No rookie camp, no preseason. Again, these could be seen as excuses but we’ve seen enough flashes of brilliance to give him a fair shot. Moving on so soon would pose a serious road block in the team’s overall development and remember, it’s always about the team.

So, with that being said it would be a fair assumption to say that our most pressing needs are going to be at WR, LB, IOL and RB (obviously this could change depending on who they acquire in free agency) and for ease I’ve assumed that two Quarterbacks are picked with the first two picks. So, let’s take a look at some possible players and scenarios:

Dolphins Picking at 3

  1. Penei Sewell  OT, Oregon

Although we picked Auston Jackson in the first round in last year’s draft I’ve included him simply because he would be the highest ranked player available should QB’s be picked at 1 and 2. Arguably the 2nd best prospect in the draft behind Lawrence, he is a locked-on starter from day one with fantastic body control, balance and initial quickness. At 6’5” and 325 lbs he has all the physical attributes the coaching staff look for in their Offensive Linemen.

Now, OT isn’t in the list of our immediate needs I hear you say but hear me out on this one. I like Hunt and Kindley on the right side of the line and I don’t think for one minute you draft Sewell to protect Tua’s blindside. One thing he has going for him is his potential to move inside to guard or maybe even move Jackson. Throw in a Centre like Creed Humphrey into the mix and you’ve got yourself a heck of an O-Line!

Ultimately, although Sewell is an elite level player, the Dolphins have more pressing needs and it would be a luxury we can ill afford at this stage in the rebuilding plan.

  1. Micah Parsons. LB, Penn State

Parson’s is probably the talent that stands out to me the most this early on in the draft for what the Dolphins need. Although the defence has been sensational this year, we still lack the dominant starting Mike Line-backer. Run defence has been poor at times and Parson’s will go a long way in helping improve it. At 6’2” and 245 lbs he’s big, strong and his explosive speed would fit in perfectly with our current scheme.

If the top two quarterbacks go 1 and 2, I don’t see Parson’s getting past the Falcons with the 4th pick. Before the Bill’s game Parson’s was the player, I thought could make the most impact immediately but after watching the level of WR play against Buffalo and the way the defence has played for the majority of the year I think there are more pressing needs than drafting a LB this high. He would be a dream signing but the offense really needs some work and therefore, I don’t think we draft him, having said that I won’t be disappointed if we do.

Trading down… This is where is gets interesting

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

There are three outstanding WR talents in this year’s draft and Ja’Marr Chase sits at the top of that tree. 6’1” and 208 lbs, he shined brightly in the LSU championship winning offense and was Burrow’s go to guy. I’ve selected him at 5 for 2 reasons.  He’s the 5th ranked player in the draft (no brainer really) but also because Cincinnati currently sits at 5 and they are extremely hight on a player we’ve already discussed, Penie Sewell.  

My only issue with this pick is trading back two places won’t particularly give us much in additional draft capital and I think there are other WR’s that could do a similar job yet give us a few extra picks.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The first thing about this pick that stands out is the existing relationship between Waddle and Tua at Alabama. That being said, regardless of any relationship Waddle is still an outstanding player. 5’10” and 182 lbs he might be a bit small for my liking but his quickness and ability to duck through defences at full speed is something I think the Dolphins have been missing.

He’s already accustomed to the RPO game the Dolphins are trying to replicate and would be a solid pick. Ranked as the 7th overall player, there’s a chance the Eagles will be high on Parson’s and so may be up for a trade at 6. With the Lions also in need of a WR and LB they might be willing to move up and trade for 7.

Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Another player with links to Tua and the RPO offense. He comes in at 6’1” and 175 lbs and the thing I like about him is he can play so many positions. He has phenomenal route running and run after catch abilities which is something the Dolphins have been lacking in recent years and once Tua gets settled he could really take advantage of this getting the ball out early. Another massive plus point is his ability to create separation, again something the Dolphins have struggled with.

I like this pick a lot and out of the three I think Smith would probably the best fit for our offense due to his versatility. Like Waddle, I can see him being in high demand and probably wouldn’t want to risk dropping any lower than 6 or 7, 8 at an absolute push.

Realistically I can’t see the Dolphins drafting anyone else is the top 10 due to positional need, but there’s nothing stopping them trading down even further to get a monster haul of picks. For example, should Fields still be available at 3 what would teams like the Minnesota, Washington or even the Bears be willing to offer?

So, looking further down the board and potentially into the 2nd round.

When looking at running backs the premier talents would be Travis Etienne and Najee Harris. I’m going for Harris as although Etienne is a quality player, our existing running back room is very similar in size, stature and style and Harris would bring a different element.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Yes, it’s another Crimson Tide player in the mix with links to Tua again. The thing I like about Harris is his ability to grind out those last few extra yards before being taken to the ground. He’ll pose a totally different ground threat to the likes of Gaskin and Ahmed and could finally bring a bit of balance to that position. Once he gets going he can really get a head of steam which when combined with his size can equate to big chunk plays, helping to take some of the pressure off the passing game.

Other potentials.

Terrace Marshall JR. WR, LSU.

Marshall comes with a terrific mix of speed, size and strength and can play both in the slot and as a wide out. He has fantastic hands (how many dropped balls were there in the Buffalo game?) At 6’3” and 200 lbs he’s aggressive and does well contesting the ball. He’s ranked at 29 so could potentially be a nice pickup early in the 2nd if he drops that far.

Creed Humphrey. IOL, Oklahoma.

Humphrey is an interesting one. He has clear leadership skills and protection awareness and at 6’5” and 316 lbs fits the mould of the current crop of Offensive Linemen and is an ex-wrestler so knows how to be physical. What intrigues me the most is he’s also a left-handed snapper. Now, I’m not saying that this is an advantage for Tua as for the majority if not all of his playing career he’s received the ball spinning the opposite way to his throwing motion so it may well be just as much of an adjustment for him to make as a right-handed Quarterback. He’s a solid player that might just still be around for the first of our second-round picks.

Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State

Kindley did a great job when he stepped In at Left Guard covering for Flowers and it could be argued the Offensive Line played better. With that in mind Wyatt Davis would fit in perfectly at Right Guard on the other side of the Line. He’s already been spoken of as a potential starter and his 6’4” 310 lb frame fits the Miami mould just like that of Creed Humphrey and is a true mauler, again a trait the Dolphins look for. 

There’s still a long way to go till the draft and who knows what conjuring Coach Flo and Grier will dream up during free agency. I truly hope that they focus their efforts on the offensive side of the ball as it’s the only way we will get a true reflection of what Tua has to offer and please Brian… don’t draft another Cornerback in the first round!

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