By: Marek Brave (@MBrave13)
With NFL free agency beginning to calm down, it is time to turn our attention to one of the most exciting events in all of sports; the NFL Draft! With the 2021 draft approaching, it is officially MOCK DRAFT SZN all over the Twitter streets. Mock drafting is one of my favorite ways to kill time during the offseason, and with Miami owning a treasure trove of picks these past couple of years, it has been a pretty fun exercise to partake in. So, if I’m going to be doing these things anyway, why not share them with my fellow derelict Fins fans? Let’s fire up the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and see how we can improve the Miami Dolphins by surrounding Tua with talent.
Miami owns two picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, starting with number six overall they acquired after multiple trades with the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles. If the Dolphins find themselves in a position to trade down once more, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them move back a spot or two, given Chris Grier’s propensity for wheeling and dealing as of late.
In my mock, I did just that, trading down TWICE! First, with Detroit who offered #72 to move up one slot and then with the Carolina Panthers; receiving picks #8 and #39 for picks #7 and #72.
At the eighth spot in the 2021 NFL Draft, I selected Jaylen Waddle, wide receiver from Alabama. Waddle has blazing speed and can really take the top off of a defense (sexy). Put him opposite new Fins WR, Will Fuller, and secondaries around the league will definitely be shaking in their cleats. As an added bonus, Waddle has plenty of experience catching passes from Tua Tagovailoa, as the men were teammates at Alabama for two seasons. As Dan Marino would say, “Send it in!”
With the Fins’ second selection in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, I selected Alabama running back, Najee Harris. Harris is the most complete back in the draft this season, excelling at both running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. He is a true three down back and at 6’2” and nearly 230 pounds, he is a load to bring down after he gets the ball in his hands. You may notice a theme here, as Harris was a college teammate of Tua Tagovailoa, but let’s face it, Alabama is a powerhouse program, and even if Tua wasn’t the Dolphins’ QB, Harris and Waddle would still be excellent picks for Miami in the first round.
After securing two playmakers with Miami’s top two selections in the draft, I turned my attention to shoring up the offensive line and adding a defensive stud with three picks in the second round. Without solid blocking up front, it won’t matter who you add at WR and RB, and while the rookies did well last season, there is still room to get better. Also, the loss of Kyle Van Noy at the linebacker spot opened up a hole in the Fins’ defense that needs to be filled.
At pick #36, I selected former Tulsa linebacker, Zaven Collins. Collins has great size at 6’3” and 230 pounds, but is wildly athletic despite his large frame. He has success dropping back into pass coverage and also plugging holes in the run game. Collins was built for Flores’ defense.
At pick #39, which was acquired from the Carolina Panthers in my second trade, I selected former Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood. This addition allows Miami to kick Robert Hunt inside to play guard, which also allows Miami to move Ereck Flowers’ contract in a trade scenario. That’s a win/win, in my opinion.
At pick #50, I selected my fourth Alabama player in a row when I took former Crimson Tide center Landon Dickerson. Dickerson has experience playing guard if need be. Still, I am definitely interested in him covering the center position for Miami once he is fully healed from an ACL injury he suffered late in the 2020 college football season. With this pick, the Dolphins can finally seal shut the revolving door in the middle of the offensive line.
Miami has one selection in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and with pick #81, I doubled down on speedy wide receivers and selected former Western Michigan pass catcher, D’Wayne Eskridge. Eskridge gains quality separation on a consistent basis, which if you read my article on free agent receivers, you know I value when it comes to those catching balls from Tua Tagovailoa. He also has experience as a returner, so that would allow Miami to move on from the diminutive, Jakeem Grant.
After no picks in the fourth round, Miami has one selection in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. With pick #156, I addressed Miami’s defensive end need with the selection of Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa. Smith is a long and lanky prospect, standing at 6’6” and weighing in at 262 pounds. In two seasons at Northern Iowa (Smith opted out of the 2020 season), Smith recorded 21.5 sacks. If Miami can get that kind of production out of a fifth-round selection, watch out.
Miami owns two selections in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. These picks are typically lottery tickets, so I used them as such.
At #231, I selected Mustafa Johnson, a defensive lineman from Colorado. After missing out on Lawrence Guy last week, Miami is still in the market for big boys on the defensive line, so if Johnson pans out, great. If not, it only cost a seventh-round pick. He has experience playing both the defensive tackle and defensive end positions, and we know Flores values his position flexibility guys.
At #258, I grabbed a backup QB so that Miami can stop paying good chunks of change to veteran backups like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jacoby Brissett. Former Notre Dame signal-caller, Ian Book, was the pick, and he’ll hold the clipboard for years to come while Tua kills it.
After strengthening the defense in last year’s draft, Miami is in a great spot to build around The Left Arm of God™ on the offensive side of the ball. I didn’t waste the opportunity to grab playmakers and protectors for our young QB during this mock draft exercise. Adding a few key defensive players in positions of need wouldn’t hurt either. Based on how Chris Grier, Brian Flores, and the rest of the Miami Dolphins’ brass have been conducting themselves these past few offseasons, I put my full trust in them to deliver the goods to Tua and Miami once again.