With the draft just two days away, I figured I would do the same thing I did last year and do my best to list some of the players in the 2021 NFL Draft I think Miami could target. Given Miami’s draft class last season, this is most likely a futile endeavor, but hey, I’ve actively decided to pursue a career where I’m wrong half the time no matter what, so that’s not going to stop me. 

Typically, I highlight every position, but this year I’m going to focus on positions I think Miami is likely to invest in. This means I’ll be excluding quarterbacks (Sorry, Mike Florio). Every tight end not named Kyle Pitts, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and offensive guard (D.J. Fluker signing makes me think both are off the board till day-3), and cornerback. With my luck, the Dolphins will select only players from those groups. 

Running Backs: 

Miami’s current running back room is definitely underwhelming. It includes the two former University of Washington in Salvon Ahmed, who was undrafted, and Myles Gaskin, a seventh-round pick. The team added former Rams RB Malcolm Brown in free agency, but he’s not going to be a bell-cow back. 

Najee Harris, Alabama, Senior 

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 230  

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Athleticism 

Worst Trait: Long Speed? 

Projected Draft Range: Late-1st to High-2nd 

Summary: Harris really won me over with his play this past season, and I imagine his tough running style will make him a favorite of the Dolphins brass. Harris is an exceptional athlete capable of quickly chopping his feet and making quick cuts at all three levels of the field. His vision has steadily improved across the course of his career, including a significant jump it took this season. Harris’ burst through the hole and at the second level is quite good, making him a candidate to rip off consistent chunk plays. His long speed is only modest but given he weighs 230 pounds; I think he’s fine. Harris also brings an exciting pass-catching and pass blocking skillset to the table, making him a true three-down back. 

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Javonte Williams, North Carolina, Junior 

Height/Weight: 5’10 and 220 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Power/Contact Balance 

Worst Trait: Long Speed 

Projected Draft Range: High-2nd to Mid-3rd

Summary: Williams started his career at linebacker, and it somehow shows up in his film when running the ball and is the most physical back this class has to offer. For a player new to the position, Williams shows good vision and nuance to set up second-level defenders and make them wrong in their fits. He’s quite a good pass protector, consistently laying down big hits against linebackers coming through the A and B gaps. Williams isn’t a blazer and may struggle to rip off chunk plays consistently, which could cause him to be available a little later in the draft. 

Travis Etienne, Clemson, Senior 

Height/Weight: 5’10 and 210 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Burst/Acceleration

Worst Trait: Vision 

Projected Draft Range: 

Summary: Travis Etienne’s total body of work at Clemson is probably the best in the entire class. His burst through the hole is truly an elite trait. He can break the angles of pursuit players at the second and third level creating a ton of big plays. Etienne improved greatly as a pass catcher and with his contact balance over the years, making him much more than just a speed back capable of ripping off big runs. While I don’t think Etienne’s vision is “bad,” I think it is a little inconsistent. If the Dolphins want to add speed to their offense, then Etienne is the way to go.  

Michael Carter, North Carolina, Junior 

Height/Weight: 5’7 and 201

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Quickness

Worst Trait: Being Small 

Projected Draft Range: Mid-2nd to Late-3rd 

Summary: Carter served as the second head of North Carolina’s two-headed monster this past season. He was the perfect compliment to Javonte Williams as someone who provided the team with more quickness, agility and pass catching ability. Carter projects well as someone who can come into a heavy zone scheme and contribute early on third downs. Carter is much closer to what the Dolphins already have on the roster in Gaskin and Ahmed; however, his lack of size and poor testing might make him a good value selection. 

Honorable Mentions: Trey Sermon (Ohio State) and Jermar Jefferson (Oregon State)

 

Wide Receiver: 

The Dolphins’ need at WR has been discussed extensively, so I won’t bore you with more talk about here. For this section, I’m going to give you the full profiles of the top-3 WRs Miami will likely be considering at pick-six, and there will be a ton of honorable mentions. 

If I truly gave you profiles on all the WRs I think Miami could target; this article would be roughly 30 pages long. It’s a deep class with a ton of talent. 

Ja’Marr Chase, LSU, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’0 and 203 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Catch Point Prowess 

Worst Trait: Separation Quickness 

Projected Draft Range: Top-10

Summary: Chase is a certified physical freak who is an elite catch point player and possesses some of the most functional strength in this wide receiver class. Chase has plenty of speed in a straight line to win down the field and showed some nuanced route-running habits to win leverage and put him in the right spot to win a jump ball. He’s got an impressive vertical and has the needed athletic ability to contort his body to make catches, thorough contact, and outside of his frame. Chase is quite similar to Devante Parker and Preston Williams in the way they win. If that’s what Miami wants at WR, then Chase is going to be their guy. 

Devonta Smith, Alabama, Senior

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 175  

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Route Running 

Worst Trait: Being Thin

Projected Draft Range: Top-12

Summary: Some are skeptical of Smith’s NFL projection due to his size, but I am fully on board betting on everything else. Smith is a smooth and nuanced route runner capable of winning with a large tree at all three levels of the field. He’s an exceptional ball tracker and displays the ability to make difficult body adjustment catches down the field and at the catch point. He’s got the speed and quickness to be a consistent separator and create opportunities after the catch. If Miami is looking for a route runner and quick separator, Smith makes a lot of sense. He would be a terror on slant routes and is a good enough athlete to make things happen after the catch. 

Jaylen Waddle, Alabama, Junior 

Height/Weight: 5’10 and 182  

Red Flags: 2020 Broken Ankle 

Best Trait(s): Speed 

Worst Trait: Size 

Projected Draft Range: Top-12

Summary: Waddle’s ability to break angles at all three levels of the field and shoot through gaps of defenders is an elite trait. What makes Waddle so special is that he’s more than just a speed threat. He displays good route running chops aided by his natural separation skills and is surprisingly good at making plays at the catch point for a smaller player. Waddle is my personal favorite of the top-three receivers. I believe he has the highest ceiling of the group and can do things that are truly unique with his speed. Miami’s offense lacked juice last season in every sense of the word, and no other player can provide juice as Waddle can. 

Honorable Mentions for late Day-1 and Day-2: Kadarius Toney (Florida), Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), 

Honorable Mentions for Late Day-2 and Day-3: Dwayne Eskridge (Western Michigan), Nico Collins (Michigan), Anthony Schwartz (Auburn), Josh Imatorbehebhe (Illinois) 

Tight End: 

The Dolphins tight-end room might be one of the deepest position groups on the whole roster, with the team getting solid play from Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, and Adam Shaheen in 2020. However, this class has the best TE prospect I’ve ever scouted, and I think Miami will heavily consider him at pick-six. 

Kyle Pitts, Florida, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’5 and 239 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Movement Skills 

Worst Trait: Blocking? 

Projected Draft Range: Top-10

Summary: Pitts is an exceptional athlete for the tight end position and for someone of his size. He’s fast, quick, and explosive, moving in all directions in all scenarios. He’s an experienced route runner with a diverse tree while also having experience winning from an in-line spot, the slot, and as an outside receiver. Pitts’ long arms and natural size give him a wide catch radius allowing him to win consistently through contact at the catch point. Pitts would make the Dolphins significantly more versatile and dynamic from the get-go. However, Miami would need to be intentional about the way he is used to maximizing his skillset on a team already featuring productive players at tight-end. 

Honorable Mentions: None

Center: 

Center might be one of the Dolphins’ biggest needs coming into the draft. They signed Matt Skura, but he’s coming off a pretty brutal season in Baltimore. There isn’t anyone really behind him on the depth chart either. I really think Miami should target a center with one of their top-four picks. 

Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma, Rs-Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’4 and 302

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Football IQ 

Worst Trait: Power

Projected Draft Range: Late-1st to Late-2nd 

Summary: Humphrey is a starting-caliber center with a ton of experience under his belt. He did a great job using angles to move players in the running game and was responsible for making protection calls in the Oklahoma offense. Humphrey is a solid athlete, on film, capable of pulling out into space or getting to the second level to seal off rushing lanes. Humphrey isn’t a weak player by any means, but I don’t think he’s a true mauler in the running game. He’s got one of the highest floors in this draft class and would probably push Skura to be the week on the starter if Miami picked him. He would be my target at 36 or with a trade back at 18. 

Landon Dickerson, Alabama, Rs-Senior 

Height/Weight: 6’6 and 325

Red Flags: 2020 ACL Tear, Injuries in 2017, 2018, and 2016 all season-ending 

Best Trait(s): Power/Functional Strength 

Worst Trait: Health 

Projected Draft Range: No Clue, Injuries add too much uncertainty

Summary: Dickerson played center at Alabama the past couple of seasons and was a truly dominant force on the Crimson Tide line. Dickerson’s power and functional strength jump off the screen as he was consistently moving defenders off the line and driving them downfield. He’s got a nice mean streak in his game as he frequently finished his blocks into the ground. In pass protection, Dickerson showed a high football IQ with the way he handled blitzes and stunts. I have absolutely zero questions about Dickerson’s on-the-field play. With that said, there is a chance he’s off the Dolphins board because of all his injuries. If they do clear him medically, I have no doubt he would be a great pick. 

Josh Myers, Ohio State, Rs-Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’5 and 305 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Football IQ

Worst Trait: Power 

Projected Draft Range: Somewhere on Day-2

Summary: Myers was the rocky steady center for the Ohio State offensive line the past couple of seasons. He provided consistent play across the board, whether as a pass protector or a run blocker. He understands his assignments well and how to get the job done despite modest tools. Myers is great at using leverage and angles to move players in the running game, making him a good option for a zone-blocking scheme. He’s a “jack of all trades but master of none.” Myers could be a steady presence in the middle for the Dolphins, but I would rather role with Skura unless I’m taking him in the third round, given his limited upside. 

Honorable Mentions:  Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin Whitewater) and David Moore (Grambling)

EDGE Rusher: 

Miami decided to move on from Kyle Van Noy in free agency, who played a considerable amount of EDGE reps despite also playing many off-ball linebackers. The team has Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel, who are undoubtedly solid players, but they are missing a true dynamic speed threat around the outside. Let’s see if we can find one. 

Kwity Pay, Michigan, Senior 

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 261 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Run Defense 

Worst Trait: Pass Rush Moves 

Project Draft Range: Mid-1st to Early 2nd

Summary: Paye brings a ton to the table in this EDGE rusher class. He’s probably the best run defender it has to offer, making him an appealing option as a base hand in the dirt end. He’s got length, functional strength, and heavy hands allowing him to stack blocks with relative ease. Paye is a pretty impressive athlete for someone built as thick as he is. His first step to shoot gaps or rush the outside arc is pretty impressive. He also possesses good change of direction skills. Paye is an incredibly similar player to Emmanuel Ogbah in how they win, so if Miami wants to add another player of that mold, Paye makes a lot of sense. 

Jaelen Phillips, Miami, Rs-Junior

Height/Weight: 6’5 and 266

Red Flags: Wrist Injury, Knee Injury, Concussions leading to medical retirement 

Best Trait(s): Athletic Ability 

Worst Trait: Pass Rush Plan 

Projected Draft Range: 1st round 

Summary: Phillips’ journey through college football is an interesting one. He started at UCLA, where he had a breakout freshman season after arriving as one of the top recruits in the country. Unfourntnaly, injuries forced Phillips to medically retire from football. Eventually, he transferred to Miami, where he enjoyed a breakout 2020 season. Phillips’ athletic ability is quite evident on film. He’s got the speed, burst, COD skills, and bend required to be an effective pass rusher. Phillips’ injury concerns muddy the water on his draft range, but his projection as a standup outside rusher is incredibly appealing for a team like Miami. 

Azeez Ojulari, Georgia, Rs-Sophomore 

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 240

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Pass Rush Prowess

Worst Trait: Pass Rush Counters 

Projected Draft Range: Late-1st to Mid-2nd

Summary: Ojulari’s initial pass rush plan is the best and most consistent in this class. He’s got the speed in his first step to win around the outside arc and the hip/ankle bend to turn tight corners to the quarterback. Oujlari’s cross chops are one of the most deadly and consistent pass rush moves this class has to offer. He’s slightly undersized; however, Ojulari displayed the functional strength to hold up in the running game. He projects best as a 4-3 standup rusher in Miami’s scheme who can play in short zones with relative success. If the Dolphins get scared off by Phillips injuries, Ojulari makes a ton of sense. 

Honorable Mentions: Jayson Oweh (Penn State), Shaka Toney (Penn State), Payton Turner (Houston), and Joseph Ossai (Texas)

Linebacker: 

Micah Parsons, Penn State, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 245  

Red Flags: Implicated in alleged hazing scandal 

Best Trait(s): Range/Athletic Profile 

Worst Trait: Coverage Ability 

Projected Draft Range: 1st 

Summary: Simply put, Parsons is a freak athlete who is smarter than his years. He’s got the speed, lateral quickness, and flexibility to make plays sideline to sideline or avoid blocks when coming downhill to make plays in the backfield. Over the course of the 2019 season, it was evident his instincts were improving. He made much better reads coming downhill late in the season, culminating in a dominant performance against Memphis in their Bowl Game. Parson also provides potent pass rush ability both off the EDGE and as a blitzer, which we know the Dolphins love. I think the question for Miami will be whether or not his character concerns outweigh his talent. 

Zaven Collins, Tulsa, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’4 and 270 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Size, Range 

Worst Trait: Physicality 

Projected Draft Range: Mid-1st to Mid-2nd 

Summary: Collins looks like he’s three feet taller than his teammates at times, which makes his range even more impressive. His speed and burst going downhill and sideline are super impressive, allowing him to make plays all over the field. He’s a solid tackler and has a nose for the ball, which allowed him to create several turnovers this season. Collins does a decent job staying leveraged in short zones and taking his drops without hitches. Collins has increased his weight quite a bit this offseason and has an interesting hybrid EDGE/LB profile, which is something the Dolphins are attracted to. 

Baron Browning, Ohio State, Senior 

Height/Weight: 6’3 and 248 

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Athletic Ability 

Worst Trait: Processing Speed 

Projected Draft Range: Probably somewhere in the top-50 

Summary: There is no doubt Browning’s speed, burst, COD skills, and length provide him the pieces to be a modern-day linebacker. When Browning is dialed in, he looks like a first-round pick with a great ceiling. My biggest issue with Browning is that he played a lot of football at Ohio State and is still incredibly raw. He never had an opportunity to find a linebacker position he was comfortable with and ended up just being a chicken with his head cut off a lot. Browning needs work, and there is no other coaching staff in the NFL. I would feel more comfortable with handling his development than Miami’s. 

Honorable Mentions: Chazz Surratt (North Carolina), Pete Werner (Ohio State), and Cameron McGrone (Michigan)

Safety: 

Trevon Moehrig, TCU, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 208  

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Coverage IQ 

Worst Trait: Run Support? 

Projected Draft Range: Late-1st to early 2nd

Summary: Moehrig can be a single-high safety at the next level, although admittedly, he would be on the lower end of that spectrum. However, Moehrig’s deep range and ball skills are plenty good enough for him to make consistent plays on the ball in deep zones. He displayed good versatility in handling reps in cover-1, cover-2, man coverage, and in the box. He’s a super well-rounded player who could make any team’s defense better, including the Dolphins, who could benefit from cutting Bobby McCain and adding a little more juice to the backend. 

Richie Grant, Central Florida, Rs-Senior 

Height/Weight: 6’0 and 194

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Range 

Worst Trait: Consistency across the board 

Projected Draft Range: Somewhere in the top-50

Summary: Grant displays good range on the backend with nice COD skills, ball tracking ability, and overall speed. Grant played a primary single-high role with the Knights, which I think he can fill in the NFL, although his anticipation can be lackluster at times. This leads me to my biggest problem with Grant’s game. He’s inconsistent across the board. Grant is another potential replacement for McCain, but he’s a little riskier than McCain’s measured approach on the backend. 

Talanoa Hufanga, USC, Junior 

Height/Weight: 6’0 and 199  

Red Flags: None 

Best Trait(s): Size/Run Support 

Worst Trait: Deep Zone Coverage 

Projected Draft Range: 2nd to 3rd round 

Summary: Hufanga is one of the best pure box safeties this class has to offer. Despite not being an option in deep zones due to some natural athletic limitations, Hufanga can play pretty much anywhere else. He can line up and play linebacker while also being an option as a pure EDGE rusher. Since I provided two free safety options, I figured it would be worth talking about a versatile box piece like Hufanga. Flores could do a lot with his skillset as he could function as a problem solver for the second level. Brandon Jones will likely fill this role, but you never know. 

Honorable Mentions: Andre Cisco (Syracuse) and Jevon Holland (Oregon)