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 9 win over the Houston Texans.
Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): B+
Waddle has not only been one of Miami’s most promising rookies, but most consistent players on the roster this season. Once again, he was the team’s go-to target, racking up eight receptions on ten targets for 83 yards. He also compiled 47 yards on two kick returns. In a game where the entire Dolphins offense struggled to move the ball, Waddle was a first-down machine. Outside of star tight end Mike Gesicki, the sixth-overall pick was the only Dolphins target who fans could regularly be excited to see when the ball was rifled his way on third down.
Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): B+
Phillips’ up-and-down rookie season corrected course against Houston. There have been times where the rookie has felt invisible, disappearing for long stretches, but Sunday wasn’t one of them. Phillips was all over the ball when defending the run and routinely got into the Houston backfield to pressure quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He showed development of his pass-rush repertoire with a great spin move to help Emmanuel Ogbah close on a sack early in the contest and applied excellent pressure on a subsequent play that led to Jerome Baker’s sideline interception. He then added to his stat sheet with a half-sack in the third-quarter.
Houston’s Swiss cheese offensive line certainly helped Phillips take another step , but his confidence and motor look to be improving each week. Fans should be excited to see the 2021 18th-overall pick maintain this momentum over the second half of the season.
Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): A-
Holland has been one of the brightest spots in an otherwise gloomy Dolphins season, and he was once again shining on Sunday. He made several splashy plays, including an interception in the back of the end zone on Houston’s first drive, a quarterback pressure on a safety blitz that led to an interception by nickel corner Justin Coleman, and a quarterback pressure in the third quarter that contributed to an Emmanuel Ogbah sack. Unfortunately, Holland also fumbled on a punt return, but that one demerit shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he’s one of the true foundational pieces of Miami’s defense and is playing exemplary football, especially for a rookie.
Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): D
Eichenberg was horrendous on Sunday, again. He let up a big quarterback hit on Miami’s first drive, and that mistake was a harbinger of things to come. The rookie second-round pick was easily tossed to the side by a Texans edge rusher on a quarterback pressure that led to a Jacoby Brissett interception, and he completely whiffed on the defender who forced a Brissett strip-sack later in the game. He allowed nine total quarterback pressures, per Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus, and is currently tied for the league-lead in pressures allowed (along with fellow Dolphins Austin Jackson and Jesse Davis).
Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A
Long was inactive in Week 9.
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 was inactive in Week 9.
Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A
Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 9.
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