The Miami Dolphins have completely transformed their roster heading into the 2020 NFL season. That transformation continued this weekend when Miami sent linebacker Raekwon McMillan and a 2021 fifth-round selection to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick. The linebacker position has surfaced as Miami’s biggest need on the defensive side of the ball and should be an area of focus for the organization next offseason. The Dolphins’ linebacker targets should include a trio of sensational linebackers included in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins’ trading of McMillan shouldn’t really come as a big surprise, as he is in a contract year and he lacks the type of versatility that Brian Flores seeks from the position. McMillan is a solid player, thriving as a two-down linebacker who is stout against the run, but when it comes to pass coverage, he is a fish out of water.
Another reason why linebacker is atop the list of the Dolphins’ biggest needs is the fact that both Elandon Roberts and Kamu Gruiger-Hill will be unrestricted free agents after the season. Miami will clearly be on the lookout for a versatile linebacker to pair with Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy. The good news for Miami fans is that the 2021 Draft class offers the Dolphins some elite talent at the position.
Dolphins 2021 linebacker targets
Micah Parsons, Penn State, Junior (6’3″, 244 pounds)
Make no mistake, the best defensive prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft is Penn State’s Micah Parsons. Ironically, in my most recent 7-round 2021 NFL mock draft, I have the Miami Dolphins selecting Parsons and Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with their pair of first-round picks.
Last season, Parsons was a monster for the Penn State defense, accumulating 109 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, five passes defended, four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Related | Driscoll’s 7-round 2021 NFL mock draft
Brian Flores and Micah Parsons would be a match made in heaven, as Flores thirsts for versatility, and Parsons offers that in spades. He is a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine, possessing great size and instincts at the position. Given his size, his range and change of direction capacity are staggering.
In addition to being a sound tackler, Parsons can also be a ferocious pass-rusher. Running backs can’t block him, his motor never runs cold, and he displays outstanding snap-count anticipation. Don’t sleep on Parsons coverage skills by any means, as he can cover running backs out of the backfield with ease and consistently displays the ability to cover tight ends as well. Parsons is the total package at the linebacker position and should blossom into a game-changing defender at the next level.
Matt Valdovinos is very high on Parsons as well, stating: “My highest-rated defensive player in the class, Micah Parsons is a game wrecking force. He’s not as polished as [Dylan] Moses, nor is he quite as athletic. However, he’s bigger, stronger, and nastier. Parsons is the best blitzing linebacker I’ve ever evaluated; if he wanted to, Parsons could probably be a first-round selection as an edge rusher.”
For the Miami Dolphins to secure a player of the caliber of Parsons, their record in 2020 must mirror Las Vegas’ projection, as he is a top-five pick in any draft class.
Dylan Moses, Alabama, Senior (6’3″, 235 pounds)
If the Dolphins outperform their expectations this season, they might have to move to “Plan B” to solve their need for a linebacker. Luckily for Miami, the second option is Alabama’s Dylan Moses and he is an absolute stud.
Heading into the 2019 college football season, many considered Moses as the best linebacker in the nation. Unfortunately, he never saw the field last season as he suffered a torn ACL just a couple weeks prior to the season’s start.
Like Micah Parsons, Dylan Moses embodies the versatility that Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins covet from the linebacker position. In 2018, he secured 116 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one pass defended, and one forced fumble.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, one of the most respected talent evaluators in the business, is a major fan of Moses, claiming “Moses is a tall, rangy athlete with tremendous energy and explosiveness. He plays downhill against the run, aggressively and violently taking on blockers to thump off and free himself to make tackles. He has outstanding lateral range and he’s a sure tackler in space.”
Also, Moses possesses the ability to cover and be an impactful blitzer. He really presents himself as a well-rounded player at the possession and will find himself as a top-15 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Adding Moses to a linebacker core featuring Baker and Van Noy would give the Miami Dolphins a stout group.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame, Junior (6’2″, 216 pounds)
While prospects such as Micah Parsons and Dylan Moses are household names, one 2021 linebacker that deserves more attention is Notre Dame’s freakish Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Owusu-Koramoah was a menace for the Notre Dame defense in 2019, tallying 80 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Owusu-Koramoah is a hybrid player in the mold of 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Simmons, as he tends to play a blend of linebacker and safety. Simply put, Owusu-Koramoah is a jack-of-all-trades type of player. He is an explosive athlete, providing a great deal of versatility. His length is impressive, as is his marvelous athletic profile.
AJ Schulte gushes over Owusu-Koramoah’s ability, stating: “Owusu-Koramoah is an explosive Swiss-army knife defender that offers upside to play a variety of roles for an NFL defense. He has the athleticism to match up in man coverage against wide receivers and tight ends and plays the run well, letting him be an effective lynch-pin to counter 11 personnel. His explosiveness and twitch translate into great sideline-to-sideline range, and he runs with a hot motor.”
When it comes to the Miami Dolphins 2021 linebacker targets, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a name to watch.