The 2021 NFL Draft has finally taken place, with plenty of young talented players joining the league. In the third draft under General Manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores, the Miami Dolphins were able to put together a tough and smart class with many team-first players.
Adding seven players to the roster, Grier addressed some pressing position needs, with former NFL executive Charlie Casserly stating that team “came away with four players that could’ve been first-round picks”, as he referred to receiver Jaylen Waddle, defensive end Jaelan Phillips, safety Jevon Holland and offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg.
Despite having strengthened their roster during the free agency and draft period, the Miami Dolphins are ranked by online gambling sites in Florida behind the Buffalo Bill as the favorites to win the AFC East, with +125 odds to even make the playoffs.
With the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected wide receiver Jaylen Waddle from Alabama University. One of the most efficient receivers in college football, Waddle is a dynamic flanker with great run-after-catch ability. In 2020, he averaged almost 130 receiving yards per game, caught 82% of targets that traveled 20 yards or more through the air and scored 4 touchdowns. Since his breakout freshman year, in 2018, he caught 21 of 26 passes that traveled at least 20 yards, and led the team in yards per reception and yards per target. Waddle also excelled as a special teams player, averaging 19.3 yards per punt return with two TDs on 38 opportunities, and 23.8 yards per kick return with one touchdown. Partnering him up with Will Fuller V, the Dolphins now have two versatile wide receivers that will cause a lot of trouble to free safeties in the league.
Also in the first round, the Dolphins selected the leading pass rusher in this year’s class, defensive end Jaelan Phillips from the University of Miami, as the 18th overall pick. A former No.1 overall high school recruit, Phillips finished last college season with eight sacks and 42 total quarterback pressures, averaging a pressure every 6.8 drop backs and 15.5 tackles for loss. Phillips is a well-rounded lineman, with heavy hands and grip strength, explosiveness and agility to operate both inside and out. On pro day, he ranked in the 90th percentile or better among defensive ends in the 40-yard dash, the shuttle and the broad jump.
On the following day, in the second round of the draft, Miami selected, with the 36th overall pick, one of the most versatile defensive players on the board, Jevon Holland, defensive back from Oregon. In two years with the Ducks, Holland played all over the defensive formation, at free safety and nickel cornerback, and was one of four college players to record at least 9 interceptions between 2018 and 2019. After the draft, head coach Brian Flores said, “I really enjoyed watching Jevon play for a lot of reasons. The way he tackles, the way he defeats blocks, a lot of ball production, his versatility. […] I think he’s got the ability to communicate and really quarterback a defense because he’s smart.”
The Dolphins traded up eight spots in the second round, and selected as the 42nd overall pick the offensive tackle from Notre Dame, Liam Eichenberg. He was a three-year starter with the Fighting Irish, and never missed a single start in his entire college career. In his final 33 games with Notre Dame, Eichenberg was charged with just four QB hits and 32 total pressures, averaging only one hit allowed every 320.8 snaps. He played both tackle spots and has the athleticism and footwork to also line as guard.
In the third round, Miami selected Hunter Long, from Boston College. The 81st overall pick was the FBS leader in receptions among tight ends in 2020, with 57, but, during his freshman and sophomore years, Long also excelled as blocker in an offense that favored the rushing game. During his career with the Eagles, he averaged 14.6 yards per reception and scored nine touchdowns.
Finally, in the seventh round of this year’s draft, the Dolphins selected offensive tackle Larnel Coleman, from the University of Massachusetts, and running back GerridDoaks, from the University of Cincinnati. Coleman is an athletic lineman with an 84 7/8-inch wingspan, who allowed just one sack in the 2020 season. Doaks led the Bearcats in rushing in 2017 and 2020, and finished his college career with 1,712 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He put up great numbers on his pro day, running a 4.52 40-yard dash and leaping 39.5 inches on the vertical jump, the fourth among all backs at the combine.