(Image Credit: USA Today Sports)
Written By: Jett Rosenstein
The Miami Dolphins completed another draft in the Brian Flores regime and it seems to have been a rather successful one even with a ton of questions that have still yet to be answered. After a 2020 draft in which the team had 3 firsts and 2 seconds, they had 2 firsts and 2 seconds in 2021. Grier has continued to capitalize on his draft capital by moving up and down the board throughout the draft process to try and secure more future draft picks and make sure he is able to select his “guys.” The Dolphins were able to address some of their biggest weaknesses in this draft and the hope is that with all these moves throughout the offseason, it will catapult this team to not only short-term success but success that can be sustained for years to come.
Overall Grade: B+
Round 1 (Pick 6)- WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (A): I, like many other Dolphins fans, were holding out hope that Chase or Pitts may fall to 6. Obviously, that did not happen but I will take Waddle, due to the fact that he has a chance to be an elite playmaker in the NFL. Waddle is always one of the most electric and elusive players on the field and this should be no different in the NFL. It also helps that Waddle is coming to play with Tua, his former QB at Alabama. Waddle will definitely take part in some special teams work as he will become an immediate threat and it will give him extra time as he works to solidify his spot among the receiving corps with the likes of newly-added Will Fuller and playmakers in Gesicki and Parker. The only thing that may end up haunting this team is if Pitts and/or Chase turn out to be extremely better than Waddle, then the Dolphins may be left thinking what could have been had they stayed at #3 overall.
Round 1 (Pick 18)- EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL) (B+): Many throughout the Dolphins fan base wanted the team to take a shot at another offensive weapon in Najee Harris, but I just think that would have been too big of a reach considering this team’s other needs, especially on defense. Jaelan Phillips will not be traveling far for his new journey, as he will be playing on the same home-field as his collegiate team, the Miami Hurricanes. This pick can definitely go either way just because of Phillips’ injury history, but he was also viewed by many as the top EDGE player in this class. If the Dolphins want to improve a pass rush that has lacked explosiveness and depth in recent years, this pick may lead them in the right direction. The hope is that Phillips will pan out to be a better first-round EDGE pick than Charles Harris in 2017 (no longer with the team) and wreak havoc on the NFL for years to come.
Round 2 (Pick 36)- S Jevon Holland, Oregon (A-): Even with passing on another RB and the consensus top S in this class, the Dolphins picked a guy in Jevon Holland that will fit in perfectly with the defensive scheme that Brian Flores wants to run. Flores continues to draft versatile playmakers that are ball-hawks. While it remains to be seen how much Holland opting out of the 2020 season will affect his play on the field, I really like this pick just because Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain are not the long-term answers at the safety position. Having a future combo of Holland and 2020 3rd pick Brandon Jones has the chance of being lethal going forward.
Round 2 (Pick 42)- OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (A+): While drafting an OT is never the most exciting, sometimes these picks have the biggest impact on a team. The Dolphins front office didn’t panic when addressing their O-Line needs. Since they decided to pass on Penei Sewell among other offensive lineman in the 1st round, it was only a matter of time before this position was going to be addressed. In previous drafts, the Dolphins took shots on O-Line prospects that were more of a project, not with Liam Eichenberg though. Another drafted player that has shown his versatility throughout his career. Eichenberg has said he can play all 5 positions on the line. Eichenberg exudes the toughness that the Dolphins were looking for to hopefully finish this O-Line project for the time being. Notre Dame has a penchant for producing premium offensive lineman and this should be no different as Eichenberg did not allow a sack in his last few seasons at Notre Dame and he should provide much needed stability wherever on the line that the Dolphins decide to place him.
Round 3 (Pick 81)- TE Hunter Long, Boston College (C+): I wasn't expecting the Dolphins to be looking at any other TEs outside of Kyle Pitts and this is my least favorite pick of the Dolphins’ draft. With still other positions that needed to be bolstered, it was an albeit questionable decision to improve on a TE position that has a more than suitable TE room headlined by Mike Gesicki. Although Long may be used as Gesicki’s replacement if he were to walk next offseason, I still think there were better options on the table. The reason for this pick getting a “C+” grade has nothing to do with Long as a player. It is solely based on the fact that the Dolphins could have used this to address other positions, considering their next pick did not come until the 7th round.
Round 7 (Pick 231)- OT Larnell Coleman, UMass (B): Most players picked at this portion of the draft are usually developmental picks and players who have a slim chance at making the team’s final cuts. However, considering all the questions that are still unanswered relating to the team’s OL, Coleman may have a chance to prove he belongs. Coleman has very long arms (36 ¼” in.), athletic, and gave it his all in the months leading up to the draft to make sure his name would be called.
Round 7 (Pick 244)- RB Gerrid Doaks, Cincinnati (B-): It took all the way up until the Dolphins final selection to take their shot on a RB. After passing on the likes of Harris & Etienne in the early rounds and Sermon & Carter in the mid-rounds, they chose to throw a dart at Gerrid Doaks. It is very clear that the Dolphins do not value the RB position as much as other teams which is understandable. Doaks, a power-back who plays with energy and passion will join forces in the RB room with Myles Gaskin (a former 7th round pick), Salvon Ahmed, and newly-acquired Malcolm Brown. While Gaskin has provided some early returns on his small investment, it remains to be seen whether Doaks will have any impact on this team, if he were to make the final roster.
Looking Forward: The Dolphins are definitely constructing a championship team the right way. The biggest question is, is Tua the answer at QB? I think so, but time will tell. He has enough weapons thanks to the draft (Waddle) and free agency (Fuller). The offensive line’s production will be key. Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, and Solomon Kindley need to take a leap in year 2. As for the defense, Coach Flores knows how to scheme and plan for his opponents. When you have 2 of the best corners in the league, opposing WRs will never get anything handed to them. This defense was definitely a bright spot during 2020, but they will need to figure out how to neutralize their opponent’s run game and get to the QB more frequently. This team has a solid blend of developmental projects, rising stars, and seasoned veterans that look to make a push towards the top of the AFC.