Thanks to Laremy Tunsil, the Miami Dolphins are one of the richest teams in the 2021 NFL Draft, with four picks inside the top-50. They’ve also been one of the most active teams, making multiple trades with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles prior to the draft. How did Chris Grier and Brian Flores spend their capital over the weekend? We hand out draft grades for all the Dolphins picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Dolphins draft picks in 2021
- 6th Overall Selection (R1-P6, from Philadelphia): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
- 18th Overall Selection (R1-P18): Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
- 36th Overall Selection (R2-P4, from Houston): Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
- 42nd Overall Selection (R2-P10, from N.Y. Giants): Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
- 81st Overall Selection (R3-P18): Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
- 231st Overall Selection (R7-P3, from Houston): Larnel Coleman, OT, Massachusetts
- 244th Overall Selection (R7-P16, from Washington): Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati
Who did the Dolphins draft on Day 1?
With the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. They followed that up with the selection of Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips with the 18th overall pick.
Miami Dolphins grades for 2021 NFL Draft
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Although some Dolphins fans may be disappointed with the pick, Waddle was the No. 1 receiver on my board.
Waddle combines game-changing explosive speed, good hands, and the elusiveness to make a man miss in the open field. The addition of Will Fuller in free agency points to the Dolphins wanting to get faster on offense, and the selection of Waddle fits that vision. Furthermore, the pick reunites Waddle with former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Having resolved their need for wide receiver with Waddle, the second of the Dolphins picks in the first round met their biggest defensive need coming into the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami fans should be extremely excited with their haul through two rounds, landing my number one wide receiver and number one edge rusher.
There will of course be some concerns over Jaelan Phillips‘ well-documented injury history. Nevertheless, if he can remain healthy, then the Dolphins have got themselves a truly dominant edge rusher. Phillips has the strength, speed, and plenty of weapons in his pass-rush toolbox to win in multiple ways. His tape against Clemson and Virginia Tech was as close to a clinic in pass rushing as you will find.
Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
Although the Dolphins had been expected to add a cornerback early in the 2021 NFL Draft, they use the 36th overall pick on Oregon safety Jevon Holland. He brings explosion and incredible playmaking ability to the Dolphins’ secondary, going some way to replace the production at the heart of the defense that had been lost with the trade of Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s an interesting selection given that TCU’s Trevon Moehrig is still on the board.
Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Despite investing heavily in the offensive line last year, there was always an expectation that the Dolphins could use multiple picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to update the protection for Tua. Trading up with the New York Giants, they select Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg with the 42nd overall pick.
Eichenberg has been the anchor of a Fighting Irish offensive line that has been particularly dominant in the ground game. Although he has played left tackle at Notre Dame, there is an expectation that he may switch to right tackle in the NFL. Strong and intelligent, he could be an immediate starter for the Dolphins.
Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
Having missed out on Kyle Pitts with the sixth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Boston College tight end Hunter Long. It’s an interesting pick given that tight end isn’t a pressing need for Miami.
However, with Mike Gesicki out of contract at the end of the 2021 season, the Dolphins clearly have one eye down the road. Long had a great season as the focus of the Eagles’ offense and is more than adequate as a blocker. He is one of the best all-around players at the position.
Larnel Coleman, OT, Massachusets
Larnel Coleman is an absolute mammoth of a man. At UMass’s Pro Day he measured in at 6-foot-6 with 36” arms and an 84” wingspan. He played left tackle at UMass but will potentially switch to right tackle in the NFL. The Dolphins double-dip at offensive tackle despite not addressing the more obvious need at center.
Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati
Although running back was considered a primary need prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dolphins wait until the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft to pounce at the position. Gerrid Doaks comes off the most productive season of his career. He’s athletic and has ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield. However, he probably isn’t the big-name back that Dolphins fans would want to have seen selected. He has an injury history that may be concerning.
Miami Dolphins Overall Grade: B+
The Dolphins started off the 2021 NFL Draft extremely strong, selecting my WR1 and best edge rusher on a pure talent basis. They addressed offensive line needs with Liam Eichenberg and Larnel Coleman, although coming out without a center is a slight knock on their grade.
Miami landed a versatile player in the secondary as well as securing some 2022 NFL Draft capital. A really good week of work in Cleveland, although the inability to land a running back early on has a slight impact on their overall grade.
Team needs for Miami coming into the NFL Draft
The Dolphins own a budding offense and a stout defense. Can they compete in 2021?
Surrounding Tua Tagovailoa with the weapons he needs to succeed is the clear priority in the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite adding Will Fuller in free agency, the Dolphins need to find a game-changing pass catcher, and they should be able to do that early.
The Dolphins’ success in 2020 was predicated on the strength of their defense. Having lost Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy, they will need to replace that lost pass-rush production if they are to have any hope of replicating last season’s performance in 2021.
Miami invested heavily in the offensive line in last year’s draft. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them use at least one of their 2021 NFL Draft picks at the position, given the performance of the line last season. The trade of Ereck Flowers back to Washington only furthers the need to address the position,
Running back is another extension of the Dolphins using their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to surround Tua with weapons. As injuries ravaged the Miami running back room last season, their lack of depth became apparent. Meanwhile, their average yards per carry was one of the worst in the NFL.
With Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and last year’s first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene on the roster, it may not be considered by many to be a need. However, Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline has reported for weeks that the Dolphins are expected to use an early-round pick at the position.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.