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Dolphins Week 12 Rookie Report Card: Top draft picks dominate in win over Panthers

Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins had five selections in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft and picked up several more rookies thereafter, meaning the team has young players who are in line to be key contributors. 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 12 win over the Carolina Panthers.

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

Waddle, just 12 games into his career, is already entering the upper echelon of the league’s top pass catchers. He was superb in Sunday’s contest, corralling 9 receptions on 10 targets for 137 yards and a touchdown. His 137 receiving yards made up a whopping 59.6% of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 230 total passing yards. Waddle has established himself as the most dangerous weapon on Miami’s offense, as exemplified by his 57-yard catch and run in which he reached a blazing 21.80 mph top speed, the fourth fastest speed reached by a ball carrier in the NFL this season, per Next Gen Stats.

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

After a slow start to the season, Phillips has become a dominating force for Miami’s defense. He has been involved on a sack in four straight games and added three more to his season-long total against the Panthers. Per Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus, Phillips also amassed 7 quarterback pressures on just 24 pass-rushing snaps. His combination of power, speed, and technique is becoming too much for opposing offensive linemen to handle as he becomes more comfortable and confident in head coach Brian Flores’ defense.

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

Holland continued his run of excellence on Sunday, proving his mid-season hot streak was anything but a fluke. Against Carolina, Holland was consistently around the ball; he recorded an interception on an errant Cam Newton throw, a pass defense, and a fumble recovery. Holland is establishing himself as a foundational piece of Miami’s talented secondary and is one of the league’s most explosive rookie defenders.

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

Eichenberg’s upward trajectory pushed steadily forward on Sunday. Aside from a holding penalty in the fourth quarter, he was nearly perfect, yielding just 1 quarterback pressure and 0 sacks on 34 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. After a rocky start to the year that included playing multiple positions along the offensive line, Eichenberg appears to be settling in at left tackle.

Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): C

After being a healthy scratch for most of the season, Long was active in third-string tight end Adam Shaheen’s (knee) absence for Week 12. Long took the field for 24 snaps (32%) but was mostly used as a blocker and was not targeted in the passing game.

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 (hamstring) was inactive for Week 12.

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

Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 12.

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