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Dolphins Week 7 Rookie Report Card: Waddle continues to soak up targets

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins had five selections in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning the team has several rookies who are in line to be key contributors this season. Each week of the 2021 season, I’m reporting on the progression of said first-year players and their impact on the team. Let’s take a look at how the young bucks fared in their Week 7 contest against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): A-

Anther week, another game with a heavy dose targets for Miami’s sixth-overall pick. Waddle was targeted eight times, snagging seven passes for 81 yards. As usual, he routinely made the first defender miss and managed to squeeze extra yards out of each play nearly every time he touched the ball. With DeVante Parker limping his way through the season and Will Fuller barely seeing the field, Waddle has quickly established himself as one of Miami’s most reliable targets alongside Mike Gesicki.

Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): C

After taking the field on 82% of defensive snaps in Week 6, Phillips only saw 24% of the action against the Falcons. He didn’t make much of an impact in his limited playing time, notching zero tackles and one quarterback hit. It’s unclear as to whether Phillips’ decreased playing time was due to injury or coaching decisions. Phillips was questionable heading into Week 7 with an ankle injury.

Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): B+

Holland is already a staple of Miami’s defense. For the second straight week, he played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps. All things considered, the first-year defensive back has made a solid case to be seen as Miami’s draft selection with the greatest value in this year’s rookie class. Against the Falcons, he racked up five solo tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and one pass defense. Holland also showed explosiveness as a punt returner, a role he held in college at Oregon.

His pass defense resulted from a massive hit on Calvin Ridley that jarred the ball loose, bringing back images of Dolphins great Reshad Jones laying the hammer in the defensive backfield. Unfortunately, Holland was also around the ball on Russell Gage’s wide open deep touchdown reception. Xavien Howard was the player assigned to cover Gage on the play, and both he and Holland admitted Gage’s score was the result of a coverage breakdown. It’s not entirely clear as to who was at fault for the miscommunication.

Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): B

Eichenberg was solid in this contest. He had one false start penalty, but showed more sturdiness in pass defense and helped lead Miami’s running game to one of its best outings of the season. Miami’s top three running backs combined for 103 yards on the ground and averaged 4.12 yards per carry, a vast improvement from the stagnant rushing attacks of the team’s earlier matchups. A great deal of push in the trenches came from the left side of the line anchored by Eichenberg at left tackle and Austin Jackson at left guard.

Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A

Long was inactive in Week 7.

Larnel Coleman, OT (7th round, 231st overall): N/A

Coleman is currently on Miami’s injured reserve list.

Gerrid Doaks, RB (7th round, 244th overall): N/A

Doaks is currently on Miami’s practice squad.

Trill Williams, DB (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A

Williams did not record a defensive snap in Week 7.

Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A

Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 7.

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