Well, here we are once again. After taking over a team that was supposed to be one of the NFL’s worst ever just two years ago, Brian Flores’ career record now sits at a stunning 15-17. What’s more, just a few months from now, the Miami Dolphins will probably be the youngest team in the NFL, and the already impressive collection of young talent on the roster will have been substantially upgraded. To me, there are some parallels to the young Dallas Cowboys teams of the late 80’s and early 90’s; I think we’d all be ecstatic if this team can come even remotely close to accomplishing what those teams did.
Since the regular season ended a few days ago, I’ve had to go back and check the 2021 draft order in the first round, just to make sure I’m not dreaming, that we really do hold the rights to the third overall pick. Folks, I’ve got news for you: this is a major windfall for this franchise. Sunday evening, I was sure that Tennessee would blow it, and allow Houston to come back and beat them in the season finale, which would have dropped our first pick down to, I believe, seventh or eighth. Picking third, we’re essentially in a scenario in which we can’t lose. Let’s go through the various possibilities. If we stay at three, there is one, and only one player that I believe Chris Grier will take: Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. This kid is just too good, and, with Lawrence already gone, no one else is good enough to justify taking there. Unlike most years, however, I believe that this time around, the most likely outcome for that pick is that we trade with a quarterback-needy team for a bonanza of picks, which could well set us up to add even more talent, both this year and next. Ideally, the team I’d like us to trade with would be Atlanta, who currently pick fourth. If we move down one spot, thus giving the Falcons the guaranteed shot at whichever quarterback they like, this would allow us to still take Sewell at four. However, with quarterbacks playing longer nowadays, Atlanta might be stubborn and either take a player at another position, like Detroit did last year or simply wait to see who’s still left on the board at four. Though I think it’s unlikely, even the Jets, at two, could also be stubborn and refuse to take a QB, which would almost certainly result in them taking Sewell ahead of us. Of course, if that were to happen, the value of the third pick would also increase substantially, at least to other teams who need a quarterback.
One thing that I’m absolutely certain won’t happen is a scenario in which the Dolphins stay at three and take Jamarr Chase. That’s just too high to take any receiver of the past twenty years not named Calvin Johnson. I could definitely see them moving down a few spots and then taking Chase, or Devonta Smith, etc, but not at three. I’ve made some pretty bitter enemies on this site by pointing out the folly of expending large numbers of high draft picks on receivers, but don’t take it from me, take it from successful NFL franchises, who seldom take receivers high. In 21 seasons running the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick used a first-round pick on a receiver just twice. In one case, he traded the 32nd and final pick of the first round to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks. Two years later, he again used the final pick of the first round, this time to select N’Keal Harry, who has largely been a bust to this point. Year, after year, there are literally dozens of receivers coming out of college who can play football at a high level; this is one reason why the Buffalo Bills opted to use their first-rounder last year on an established player, rather than rolling the dice on an unproven rookie at the receiver position. That doesn’t mean I don’t think the Dolphins need to add several offensive playmakers, both at receiver and at running back, only that I think those playmakers will come later in the first round and in subsequent rounds. One guy I had heard a lot of good things about was tight end, Pat Freiermuth. Then I checked out his highlights and he looked slower than molasses in January. He looks like he’s strong as hell, though.
Another player Miami could look to target in the top half of round one is fellow Nittany Lion Micah Parsons, the consensus top linebacker coming out this year. For the type of defense Flores wants to run, you can never have enough linebackers, and Parsons would be the stud on the inside that neither Raekwon McMillan nor Jerome Baker has proven to be. This has been the guy I’ve badly wanted for the past few months, before Houston’s rose high enough to be in Sewell’s range. The Dolphins could also look to add Alabama LB Dylan Moses in the late first or early second round.
As far as free agency is concerned, I think a lot of it depends on who’s available and what their contract demands are. One guy I’ve got to tell you I’m not crazy about is Bears wide receiver, Allen Robinson. He’s already signed one lucrative free-agent contract, so we don’t really know how hungry he’s going to be at this point. That being said, at least he’s been able to stay on the field most of the time. Still, I’d probably prefer Detroit’s Kenny Golladay, if the team can come to terms with his agent.
All in all, this promises to be another exciting offseason for the Dolphins and their fans. I don’t buy for a moment the notion that they’re going to fall back down into the 7-9 win range, assuming that they’re able to have a real training camp this time around. I’m interested to hear what our readers think the team might do in the draft and free agency.