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 11 win over the New York Jets.
Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): A-
Another week, another impressive outing from Miami’s 2021 sixth-overall pick. Against the Jets, Waddle piled up eight catches on nine targets for 65 receiving yards and added a one-yard touchdown rush on an end-around at the end of Miami’s first drive. His touchdown run emphasized just how blazing fast the former Crimson Tide star is compared to every defender on the other side of the ball.
Through 11 weeks, Waddle has become Tua Tagovailoa’s go-to target on third downs and is one of the most reliable weapons that Miami has had in the passing game in years. He is displaying excellent chemistry with his former collegiate teammate, as evidenced by a clutch first-down reception on third-and-seven late in the game on which Tagovailoa threw a laser to the sideline that couldn’t have been placed more perfectly.
tua to waddle for a big third down pic.twitter.com/ItH5HfCWtb— josh houtz (@houtz) November 21, 2021
Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): B
Phillips’ ascension continued against Gang Green. Playing 63% of Miami’s defensive snaps, the former Hurricane accumulated three solo tackles, two quarterback hits, and a sack. He’s quickly becoming a reliable pass rush partner with veteran Emmanuel Ogbah, and if Miami manages to lock up Ogbah to a long-term deal before he hits free agency in 2022, Chris Grier may have finally found a reliable tag team on the edge. Phillips, like Ogbah, manages to be around the ball often, and his high-motor, high-effort style of play is exactly what head coach Brian Flores looks for in his defenders.
Phillips gets a ding in his grade for this contest due to a bone-headed late hit penalty that he committed in the second half. Giving the opposing offense a free 15 yards and 1st-down when the play is already over is simply unacceptable, but rest assured, Flores won’t let Phillips forget about it in this week’s meetings.
Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): B
Speaking of guys who are always around the ball... go turn on the tape, and you’ll see that Jevon Holland shows up on just about every Dolphins defensive play. He secured an excellent pass breakup on Jets quarterback Joe Flacco’s first drive, he chased down a Michael Carter breakaway run to bring down the Jets rookie tailback at the one-yard line, he caught Jets tight end Ryan Griffin after a big reception down the sideline, and he picked up Christian Wilkins’ fumble after the Dolphins defensive tackle brought down a Flacco fumble that popped up into the air. Holland is everywhere on the field.
He played more than 95% of the team’s defensive snaps for the seventh straight week and racked up a career high six solo tackles. Just 11 weeks into his NFL career, Holland might be one of the top-five players on the entire Dolphins roster.
Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): B+
After weeks of struggling immensely in pass protection, Eichenberg put together an impressive performance against the Jets. He secured a strong 76.3 Pro Football Focus Grade, per Ryan Smith, and the film backs up that score. He was sturdy protecting the quarterback, with one of his only glaring missteps resulting in him getting beat inside on Tagovailoa’s game-sealing touchdown pass to Myles Gaskin.
In the run-game, he did a great job sealing the edge on a 20-yard rush that set up Tagovailoa’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins. The Dolphins piled up 115 yards on the ground, with many of the team’s more efficient runs coming behind Eichenberg and guard Austin Jackson on the left side of the line.
Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A
Long was inactive in Week 11.
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 11.
Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A
Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 11.
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