Brave’s ‘Off the Beaten Path’ NFL Mock Draft

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By Marek Brave (@MBrave13)

If you’re like me, you’ve seen hundreds of 2021 NFL Draft mocks during this offseason. Like my partner in crime on this website, Josh Houtz, says on his very entertaining podcast, The Phinsider, “Mock drafts are like @$$holes, everyone’s got one.” But, as I said in last week’s article, that’s nothing to be ashamed of! Give me mocks, or give me death!

For this particular mock I’m feeding you today, I decided to do things a little differently. From my two previous mocks, you may have gathered that I have a few preferred players in this year’s draft that I would not pass up for anyone. I’m in love with Kyle Pitts and Najee Harris in the first round for Miami. Landon Dickerson in the second round is someone I’d be hard-pressed to pass on if Chris Grier has a crack at him there.  I absolutely want the Dolphins to draft D’Wayne Eskridge in round three if they don’t go WR in the first round.

However, that’s not what today’s mock is all about. Instead, I decided to go off the beaten path and select players that I have not selected in previous mocks, and in fact, I selected players that are not often mocked to Miami for various reasons in any mock draft that you’ll read. Please, before you send vitriolic tweets my way after reading, understand that these are NOT players that I would draft if I were in charge. I am merely experimenting here. For each pick, I will try to justify why it could possibly make sense for the Fins to select the player, but I’m sure there will be varying success rates with that.

Are you ready? Then let’s fire up the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and get to the dirty work!

ROUND 1

#6 – Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon

Sewell is a player that had been mocked to Miami very early on in this process. At that time, the fan base was somewhat okay with Miami selecting the young lineman to continue to invest in protection for Tua Tagovailoa, but those days are long gone. While there are still some fans who would support this selection, there are far more who would lose their minds if Miami drafted another offensive lineman this high, especially after selecting three offensive linemen in last year’s draft, including Austin Jackson at pick eighteen. Most fans are in agreement that a pass catcher like Pitts, Chase or Smith should be the pick at six, but we’re doing things differently today. Sewell would allow Miami to move Jackson to right tackle and kick Robert Hunt inside. The offensive line would be young and cheap for years to come, while they grow and learn together. Have a quarterback with injury history? Build him a brick wall and don’t let anyone touch him. Continuing to invest in the offensive line would also greatly benefit the running game, even if Sewell is better at pass blocking than run blocking.

#18 – Christian Barmore – DT – Alabama

Chris Grier has an Alabama fetish. Miami also has a need for another defensive lineman. Some people are convinced that Raekwon Davis could play defensive end in Brian Flores’ system, leaving a giant hole in the middle of the defensive line. There may not be a better player in this draft to fill that hole than former Crimson Tide defensive tackle, Christian Barmore who is a massive 6’4” and 310 lbs. Barmore has the ability to make quarterbacks queasy in the backfield with his pass rush, but he also has the ability to eat up double teams and allow linebackers to get to running backs in the backfield. Again, is this the pick I would make at eighteen? Probably not, but when we go off the beaten path, we run into this monster of a man. Thankfully he’s on our side.

ROUND 2

#36 – Richie Grant – Safety – UCF

There have been rumblings that Miami could be interested in moving on from Bobby McCain’s contract. To do that, you’ll need someone who can play his position. Grant is a turnover machine, intercepting 10 passes over his last three seasons to go along with five forced fumbles. Miami’s defense runs on turnovers. Grant will need to work on not letting speedy wide receivers get behind him for the big play, and he’s not going to wow you with his ability to come up and play the line of scrimmage, but he’s rated as one of the top safeties in this class regardless, and if Miami wants to get younger at that position, Grant could definitely be in play during the second round of the draft.

#50 – Kadarius Toney – WR – Florida

We got a wide receiver! However, Toney is not the receiver most mocked to Miami during this offseason. Toney is virtually unguardable when he gets in and out of his breaks quickly. His ability to be used all over the formation as a gadget player is also very intriguing. He has tremendous vision and creates chunk plays with his YAC skills. However, Toney battled injuries throughout his college career before finally staying healthy for the 2020 season. Additionally, there are some very serious off-the-field concerns that would absolutely need to be addressed before bringing him to a place like South Florida. I don’t see Miami being interested, but you never know!

ROUND 3

#81 – Kenneth Gainwell – RB – Memphis

No Najee. No Javonte. No Etienne. Although it is widely believed that Miami will select one of the “big three” at running back, that’s not what this mock is all about. I purposely waited on running back to see what Miami would be looking at if, much like last year, they missed out on the top guys at the position. That left me with Kenny Gainwell from Memphis. Maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad consolation prize. Although he probably would not be able to fill the feature back role, adding him to the mix with Gaskin and Brown would allow him to play on third downs, as he’s very good when he gets the ball in space. His blocking is also above average, so that would not be an issue as it often is with rookie ball carriers. But, in all honesty, it makes me sick to think about missing out on one of the top three backs in this draft. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

ROUND 5

#156 – Shaka Toney – EDGE – Penn State

Shaka Toney, no relation to our earlier selection, Kadarius Toney, is a solid run defender on the edge. He has some speed when it comes to rushing the passer, but it doesn’t always show up on tape. Toney can get bullied by more physical players and you definitely don’t want him dropping back into pass coverage. He’ll need to work on his technique as he’s very raw at this stage in his career. As far as Miami goes, I think they can do much better at this spot when it comes to the actual draft.

ROUND 7

#231 – Brandon Smith – WR – Iowa

I doubled down on wide receivers, which is something that I’m not sure Miami actually needs to do as the addition of Will Fuller, plus the returns of Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson make for a very crowded WR room in Davey. Smith had a very impressive 40 yard dash time for his size at 4.56. He also had a 44 inch vertical leap. All of that at 6’3”. However, he played college ball in Iowa where they don’t pass the ball well, so he enters the draft with paltry numbers, catching just 91 passes over the past four years combined.

#258 – Noah Gray – Tight End – Duke

Who needs Kyle Pitts when you can nab Noah Gray late in the seventh round? I kid, of course. Heading into the season, Gray was touted as a tight end who could have come off the board as early as the second round. After a very disappointing season, those days are long gone. Gray doesn’t block well, lacks burst, and has trouble making the difficult catch. He’ll never be a number one guy, but with some work and improvement, he could see the field in two or three tight end sets.

The NFL Draft is a crapshoot. Sometimes you walk away from a draft and you love every selection, yet those are the drafts that are filled with busts after you take a look back a few years down the road. Sometimes you hate a player, and then that player turns out to be one of the best selections your team has made in years. You just never know! Will Miami walk away with any of these guys from my Off the Beaten Path Mock? In just over a week, we’ll find out. Fins up!

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