The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets. The Miami Dolphins are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
The Dolphins’ rebuild looks near done, as they went 10-6 in 2020. The season did not end in a playoff berth, but they were certainly close. Even so, they have five more picks in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Miami’s biggest storyline in the 2020 season was the sub-par debut of perceived franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and how he both supplanted and was replaced by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was even surprised to have lost his job to Tagovailoa so soon, even though he knew he was a stop-gap solution at the position, before being thrust back into action once again.
Regardless, DeVante Parker had his best season and Xavien Howard continued to be a turnover machine as he made the Pro Bowl and the First Team All-Pro. Head coach Brian Flores has this team well ahead of schedule. The Dolphins could already be looking at a decent playoff run next year, if Tagovailoa’s yips are shaken out of him.
2021 NFL Draft Picks
The Dolphins have six picks in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick) – Nos. 6 & 18
Second Round (one pick) – Nos. 36 & 50
Third Round (one pick) – Nos. 82 & 102
Running back- The Dolphins had Miles Gaskin and a (perennially) injury-laden Matt Breida last season. They need a true one-two punch to really take this offense to the next level. If the team’s supposed doubt in Tua Tagovailoa is to be believed, then it accentuates the need for another running back to take the pressure off of his arm.
Offensive line- Miami spent a first round pick on a lineman last season and they signed center Matt Skura in the offseason. Their work on the line is far from done, though. Offensive lines do not just need talented players, they need sturdy players and depth and flexibility. If the Dolphins draft the line well in 2021, they could all but call that part of the rebuild finished.
Edge rusher- Getting after the quarterback is paramount in the NFL in 2021. Especially in a division with the dual-threat quarterback Josh Allen. Simply, Miami needs to get to the quarterback and get in the backfield more than they did last year. Picking up a talented edge rusher in the draft can solve the problem outright with his individual ability to sack the quarterback, or draw enough attention that his teammates can.
Linebacker- The linebacking core of the Dolphins is less than impressive. More firepower and better tacklers are needed to scare defenses away from either running or throwing in the middle of the field. If they hit on the selection, that linebacker could end up quarterbacking the defense before too long.
2021 NFL Draft Targets
Pick No. 6: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
There are going to be some hard players on which to pass at pick number six. Any combination of Jaylen Waddle, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase and maybe even Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith may be available here; and those are just the pass catchers.
Fixing their offensive line for their new quarterback should be paramount, though. If that is their path, then Miami should take Rashawn Slater, a true unicorn of an offensive lineman out of Northwestern. For starters, he handled Chase Young, who wrecked lines in college and is already a force in the pros.
The real value he gives to the Dolphins is his experience at all five spots on the offensive line. Slater can be moved anywhere on the line if the injury bug bites Miami. While that may hamper his development at the position they want him taking full-time, his flexibility here is too important to a team looking to shore up their line.
Pick No. 18: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
This pick comes down to preference. Both Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne will be available with the 18th overall selection. Both have similar pedigrees when it comes to winning and have similar boom or bust potential.
Harris is the pick here, though, mostly due to his similarities to newly-crowned superstar Derrick Henry. The two players have similar body types, run the same way and both went to Alabama. If Miami has a chance to grab their very own version of Derrick Henry, they cannot miss their shot.
Pick No. 36: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
This draft has some great early-round edge rushers, but Joseph Ossai gets the nod here due to his great 2020 campaign. His five sacks and three forced fumbles rated highly in the annals of college football rankings during the pandemic-stricken season.
Ossai has more of a lean, speedy quality than other edge rushers in the draft. But his pedigree speaks for itself, as he made an impact at Texas during all three of his years there.
Pick No. 50: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
As stated above, the Dolphins need a linebacker to dissuade teams from throwing across the middle. The middle of the defense was really their only consistently soft spot. Jabril Cox is not quite a tackling force, but he can cover running backs on option routes and tight ends on their conventional routes. Having a linebacker that can act as a cornerback is a valuable option for Flores’ defense.
Pick No. 82: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
Miami’s two featured receivers are DeVante Parker, out of Louisville and the newly-signed Will Fuller, who is a burner. Tutu Atwell is a combination of those two things, a burner out of Louisville, so it would make sense to use their third round pick on him.
Anymore, teams may not expect too much out of third round skill position players. The NFL is trending toward spending high picks on top-level talent, with the rest serving tiny roles on special teams. Atwell could be an outlier. He needs some work, but his speed is hard to pass up. Miami needs to set up Tagovailoa for success, so more receivers could be necessary.
Pick No. 102: Cam McGrone, LB, Michigan
As the draft enters the triple digit picks, the guess work begins. If the Dolphins pick Jabril Cox earlier in the draft, though, they may want to grab one more linebacker just in case his coverage skills in the NFL are not up to snuff.
Cam McGrone is more of a traditional linebacker that played for Jim Harbaugh, who had the best linebacking core in the NFL when he was with the 49ers. The big payoff here is McGrone’s health. He simply does not miss snaps, which is valuable for a player that would be serving as a backup.
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