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 10 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): B
Waddle was once again crucial contributor for the Dolphins offense, even if he didn’t rack up double-digit catches this time around (four receptions for 61 yards on the night). The team uncharacteristically got big plays out of depth receivers in Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford, but Waddle’s playmaking ability was still on full display.
On 1st-and-20 at the end of the third quarter, with the Dolphins holding a narrow three-point lead, Waddle skied high in the air to bring down a 35-yard Tua Tagovailoa pass and get Miami in scoring position, all while being slammed to the ground by a Ravens defender. The play showed Waddle’s ability to not just corral receptions in the short-to-intermediate range, but to go up and get a contested deep ball with the game on the line.
Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): B+
Phillips’ rookie season continued its upward trajectory on Thursday night; he was a key component of the shutdown defense that Miami displayed against a usually electric Lamar Jackson and his Ravens offense. The former Miami Hurricane’s impressive speed and athleticism was evident all night long. On a key third down in the third quarter, he kept pace with Jackson (who is generally the fastest player on the field) all the way to the edge, forcing him out of bounds for a short gain and getting Miami’s defense off the field. Phillips also combined with Andrew Van Ginkel for a sack at the end of the first quarter that would be a harbinger of things to come on a tough night for the Ravens offensive line.
Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): A
If not for linebacker Micah Parsons, a first-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys, Jevon Holland could very possibly be leading the Defensive Rookie of the Year Race. Though Parsons is already one of the top linebackers in the NFL and is playing for one of the league’s best and arguably most popular teams, Holland has shown just as much promise at his position through 10 weeks. If Holland was heating up heading into Thursday night’s win, he was straight up on fire against Baltimore.
Holland was deployed masterfully by head coach Brian Flores not just as a playmaking free safety, but as a pass rusher. Per Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus, Holland blitzed on 22 snaps, resulting in a whopping six quarterback pressures, one quarterback hit, and one sack. He was also targeted four times in the passing game and allowed just one reception for six yards. He’s quickly turning into one of the best daft picks Miami has had in a long time.
Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): D+
Eichenberg continues to stumble through his rookie season in Miami. He was routinely beaten in pass protection and received a lowly 39.0 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. Eichenberg was responsible for blocking the defender that got to Jacoby Brissett on the play that injured the quarterback’s knee.
It’s unfortunate to see a player that was so sturdy during his collegiate days regress so precipitously. That’s not to say Eichenberg won’t get any better. Plenty of rookies take time to find their footing at the NFL level, but this hasn’t been the start that many were hoping for when the Dolphins traded up in the second-round to select the former Notre Dame standout. Eichenberg did, however, make a heads up play by jumping on a Tua Tagovailoa fumble that resulted from a strip sack in the fourth quarter.
Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A
Long was inactive in Week 10.
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 10.
Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A
Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 10.
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