For the second-consecutive year, the Miami Dolphins are as loaded with draft capital as anyone else in the NFL. Despite winning 10 games and finishing by all accounts ahead-of-schedule, general manager Chris Grier is armed with the third overall pick thanks to
bullying a trade with the Houston Texans in 2019 for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. They are also armed with picks 18, 36, 50, and 81 to continue to build the franchise.
Draft experts are split on where the team should go with the ammunition. Miami is in the proverbial catbird seat considering they are picking third — colloquially known as “quarterback country” — in a quarterback-rich draft, yet they are not in need of a signal caller after taking Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa fifth a year ago. That leaves them in the fortuitous situation where they can either choose the best player available or trade down, fill a need, and collect even more picks from a quarterback-needy team be it Detroit at 7, Carolina at 8, Denver at 9, or San Francisco at 12. Here’s where and whom draft experts from around the internet have Miami picking at Nos. 3 and 18.
- Chris Trapasso of CBS has them selecting Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 3 and USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker at 18.
- Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News has the Dolphins taking Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell at three and Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins at 18.
- Walter Football has Miami taking Smith at three and Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at 18.
- Charlie Campbell of Walter Football has them selecting LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase third and Owusu-Koramoah 18th.
- Maurice Jones-Drew at NFL.com has Miami taking Chase at three and adding Alabama running back Najee Harris at 18.
- Charley Casserly of NFL.com has Miami taking Chase at three, as well, and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau staying home at 18.
- Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com echoes Jones-Drew and has Miami going Chase and Harris
So the mocks present anything but a consensus at either pick, though Chase is taken at third in 4/7 with Smith taken in a pair, so everyone does seem to be on board with getting Tagovailoa a weapon early. As far as 18 goes, Harris and Owusu-Koramoah are each taken twice. Now a look at the mocks that include a trade down.
- Nick Farabaugh of Pro Football Network has Miami taking Chase at three and trading down from 18 with Jacksonville for 25 and 65. The Jaguars take Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with that pick and Miami takes Harris at 25.
- Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock of NBC have Miami trading the third pick to Carolina, though the return capital is unclear. With the third pick, the Panthers took Justin Fields, quarterback out of Ohio State, and at eight, the Dolphins were still able to grab Smith. Then at 18, Miami took Owusu-Koramoah.
- Jordan Reid of The Draft Network also has Miami trading down to No. 8 with Carolina, and picking up Nos. 39 and 151 in this year’s draft and Carolina’s first rounder in 2022. At three, the Panthers took Fields again, but this time, both Chase and Smith are off the board before Miami picks, so they took Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle. Then at 18, the Dolphins took Collins out of Tulsa.
- Kyle Crabbs of USA Today has Miami guess what, trading back with Carolina and adding Nos. 39 and 151, and next year’s first rounder. They select Pitts at eight and Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins at 18.
- Nick Belotto of FanSided has the most creative mock I came across, with Miami trading No. 3 to Philadelphia for No. 6 and a 2022 first rounder. Philadelphia took Fields, and then Miami flips Nos. 6 and 81 to Detroit for Nos. 7 and 41. The Lions took Smith at 6 and the Dolphins took Chase at 7. At 18, Miami selected Michigan defensive end Kwitty Paye.
The overwhelming consensus regardless of where the Dolphins wind up selecting in the top 10 is on Grier taking the best-available pass-catcher. Then with the second first-round pick, it is all about replacing Kyle Van Noy, either at his natural position with Owusu-Koramoah or Collins, or his ability to rush the quarterback with a couple of defensive tackles. There are also a few Harris picks mixed in there, which would make Dolphins fans remarkably happy, even if it means forgoing Pitts in the PFN mock.
Creating a mock of your own is easy whether it is on PFN, Pro Football Focus, or TDN. Be forewarned, though, as the first two allow for trades but are seen by many as unrealistic to how the draft actually plays out, while the latter gets more credit for being realistic yet requires a subscription to make trades.
For the purposes of this blog, I created my own mock on PFF with the feature toggled up for “positional value” for the other 31 simulated teams. In PFF, the trade values are wildly off from realism, which is great for creating dream scenarios but not rooted in pragmatism. In order to offset this, I only offered trades that seemed plausible using the Drafttek trade value chart.
After Jacksonville and the Jets took quarterbacks 1-2 as expected, I was left with everything available at three including Sewell, Pitts, Micah Parsons, and all three top receivers. Given that treasure trove, it only makes sense in my opinion to trade back, which I did to Carolina in exchange for Nos. 8, 39, 73, and a 2022 first rounder. The 2021 draft points alone have Miami trading away a 2200 value pick in exchange for 2135 points, with the 2022 first currently incalculable but figuring to be extremely high, tilting this trade a bit.
The only difference between my trade and that of the mocks is exchanging 151 (29.8 points) for 73 (225 points). It is not a massive difference in the grand scheme of the trade, and I believe the market will inflate for quarterbacks due to some quality prospects this year and an opinion that next year’s crop appears to be lackluster. I think Carolina will be part of a bidding war for three and will ultimately win out and get their new face of the franchise.
8. Miami Dolphins (Trade with Carolina): OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
At eight, Chase is already off the board, but Sewell and Smith are there. I know the Dolphins invested a first and second in 2020 on tackles and just traded for fellow 2020 first rounder Isaiah Wilson, as well. That said, Sewell is too smooth and too polished to pass on if he’s available at eight. With his ability play on either side of the line, Sewell is a perfect fit for a team with a left-handed quarterback needing blindside blocks on the right side. Slide him in at RT and move Robert Hunt to RG, and Tagovailoa gets something about as important as weapons: more time.
10. Miami Dolphins (Trade with Dallas): WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Now this is where things get spicy. With Smith still on the board, likely due to size concerns, the Dolphins leap ahead of the New York Giants at 11 to take the Heisman Trophy winner. The 10th pick is a value of 1300, so the Dolphins trade 18 (900 points) and 50 (400) to Dallas in a perfect swap. The Cowboys desperately need secondary help, and with Alabama’s Patrick Surtain Jr., Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn all still on the board, they will be able to address it at 18 while also adding a valuable pick midway through Round 2.
Even better for Miami, they are able to address better protection for Tagovailoa at 8 and now can add a dynamic weapon at 10 where he already has chemistry. Smith is a very smooth and crafty receiver that runs crisp routes, spots soft spots in zones, and can pull away after the catch. Miami’s receivers were one of the worst in the NFL a year ago at gaining separation, and that is where Smith thrives. Smith not only gives Miami a true No. 1 receiver, but he also slides DeVante Parker to a true No. 2 role, which will help him, as well. All in all, Miami finishes the trades with Nos. 8, 10, 39, 73, and a 2022 first rounder in exchange for Nos. 3, 18, and 50. Not a bad net at all, especially when you consider the Dolphins added potentially franchise-changing line help and a weapon.
29. Miami Dolphins (Trade with Green Bay): RB Najee Harris, Alabama
The two teams who made an infamous 2020 trade that saw Green Bay trade up to Miami to select Jordan Love, the roles are reversed as the Dolphins go up to grab the player they covet. Last year, the Packers gave up a fourth-rounder (which ended up being guard Solomon Kindley) to go up four spots to 26. This year, Miami has to move up seven spots from 36 and surrenders picks 123 and a seventh.
The move is worth it as the Dolphins are able to pick up a running back they hope can change their offense the way Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb have changed the Titans and Browns, respectively. Harris is an athletic freak who can run away from safeties and run over linebackers, and no, I don’t have that backwards. He also has a propensity to leap over defenders and somehow not break stride.
In my opinion, Harris changes the dynamic of the entire offense. Myles Gaskin moves down to a change-of-pace role with Harris getting the bulk of the touches. Not only does he force teams to account for him in the box which opens up the passing game even further for Tagovailoa, but he is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, as well. Miami has a shortage of weapons dating back a decade, and it hasn’t helped being one-dimensional at best. This changes almost all of that with just one pick.
In all likelihood, he is gone by this selection, but it is by no means out of the realm of possibility. Last year, the first running back was taken at 32 when the Chiefs took Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The year before, there was just one running back selected in the first 52 picks: Josh Jacobs at 24 to the Raiders. Also take into account some teams reportedly prefer Clemson’s Travis Etienne and that it is seen as a deep draft at the position with the likes of UNC running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter available in the 2-3 rounds, Memphis’s Kenneth Gainwell in the same territory, and Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard and Ohio State’s Trey Sermon projected in rounds 3-5. That may lend to some running back-hungry teams addressing other needs first, before landing on a new back.
39. Miami Dolphins (earlier trade with Carolina): OC Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
For the fourth-consecutive pick, the Dolphins address the offense. The line was young a year ago with three rookies starting a majority of the games, and it gets even younger with two more rookies coming in 2021 in this hypothetical. That said, Humphrey has been as good as it gets at center for the Sooners in his career, tallying over 2,400 snaps in Norman.
Having an intelligent and road-grading center like Humphrey benefits both Tagovailoa and Harris, and could end up being a stalwart on the line for over a decade. Ted Karras is a free agent, and was middle-of-the-pack last year. This pick could be an upgrade immediately and solve a problem for years to come.
73. Miami Dolphins (earlier trade with Carolina): DT Tommy Togiai, Ohio State
In all likelihood, the Dolphins will lose DT Davon Godchaux in free agency in the coming weeks. While Zach Sieler and Benito Jones both offer upside, and Raekwon Davis and Christian Wilkins are versatile enough to slide along the line, Miami needs more depth inside. They get that with Togiai, the former four-star who was coached for three years by the legendary Larry Johnson up in Columbus.
Togiai averaged over three pressures per game, per PFF, but is also a run stuffer, as showcased in the College Football Playoff. Marvin Wilson of Florida State was on the board in this mock, and while I don’t think that’ll be the case in next month’s draft, I still lean to Togiai with this pick due to the tremendous upside and his ability to seemingly play all downs.
81. Miami Dolphins: LB Chazz Surratt, UNC
In the only pick in the first three rounds that has Miami picking where they are currently scheduled to do so, I have them taking the wildly athletic Surratt. The Tar Heel linebacker started his career as a quarterback, starting seven games under center as a redshirt freshman then serving as backup as a sophomore.
All he did after switching to the other side of the ball was notch 115 tackles and 6.5 sacks and earn runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. As a senior, was a captain on the UNC defense under Jay Bateman, finishing as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and Lott Trophy with 91 tackles and six sacks. He is a sideline-to-sideline nightmare and can beat blockers with his speed and intelligence. The only reason he is available at this point is due to his still being a project in stopping the run between-the-tackles. Grier and Brian Flores don’t let a second go off the clock at 81 in Surratt is still available.
So there you have it: my first 2021 mock draft for the Dolphins. They add a tackle and center to the offensive line to flank star wide receiver and running back additions from Alabama to join their former Crimson Tide teammate under center. They also bring in a defensive tackle and linebacker to supplement losses from the stout 2020 Dolphin defense. If they so choose to stay in the hunt for a certain quarterback out of Houston, they added an additional first round pick for 2022, which even if they don’t, is an infinitely valuable pick to have.