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Dolphins Week 13 Rookie Report Card: Top trio shines once more in victory

NFL: New York Giants at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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 13 win over the New York Giants.

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

Week after week, Jaylen Waddle continues to show why he was deserving of being the sixth overall selection in the 2021 draft. Against the Giants, Waddle recorded nine receptions on 11 targets for 90 yards and was once again Miami’s most explosive and reliable weapon in the passing game. Waddle and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa share a unique connection that accentuates both player’s strengths, and it appears to be a connection that will be the focal point of Miami’s offense for years to come.

“He’s going to be one of the those guys you hear about for a long time,” All-Pro Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said about Waddle on the Richard Sherman Podcast. Howard is not alone in praising Waddle, as the rookie pass catcher seems to already be garnering respect from around the NFL. Towards the end of Miami’s matchup with the Giants, Waddle was removed due to injury, but he explained after the game that he was just suffering from cramps, so Miami’s number one weapon should be good to go following the team’s Week 14 bye.

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

If you asked any reader of this website a few weeks ago who Miami’s most impressive rookie defender was, the answer would have far and away been Jevon Holland. Now, edge rusher Jaelan Phillips is making a case to be discussed in same breath as Miami’s astounding second-round safety.

After notching three sacks against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, Phillips added two more to his total of 8.5 against the Giants and has been in on a quarterback takedown in five straight weeks. In Week 13, Phillips passed Lorenzo Bromell on Miami’s leaderboard for most sacks in a player’s rookie season, and that’s with four games still to go. Phillips is truly becoming a force on the edge and is rounding out Miami’s pass rush rotation exactly as Chris Grier hoped when he selected Phillips 18th overall back in April’s NFL Draft.

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

Another stellar game for Holland. Against the Giants, the Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate racked up five tackles, one quarterback hit, and two pass defenses on 100% of the team’s defensive snaps. He is currently Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded defensive rookie in the NFL and is the fourth-highest graded safety overall.

One particular coverage snap against the Giants perfectly exemplified Holland’s ferocity and instincts in coverage. On said play, Holland begins to shift left, but as he follows quarterback Mike Glennon’s eyes, he breaks right and hits Darius Slayton hard over the middle to break up a pass and prevent a first down conversion. There are few defensive backs who came into the league and caught up to the speed of the NFL game as quickly as Holland.

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

In Week 13, Eichenberg had another strong outing, but due to one particular play, it wasn’t the near-perfect performance that he had against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. On a third-and-five in the first quarter with the Dolphins backed up against the team’s own end zone, Eichenberg was beaten on an outside bullrush by Giants pass rusher Quincy Roche, resulting in a sack on Tua Tagovailoa. Per Pro Football Focus, that hurry-turned-sack was the only QB pressure that Eichenberg allowed on the day, but it was a nearly disastrous one given Miami’s position on the field.

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

Long was active for the second consecutive week, but played just 10 snaps against the Giants. He was targeted once and corralled the pass for an eight yard gain. He’s still firmly behind Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe and will likely revert to his spot as fourth on the team’s tight end depth chart once Adam Shaheen (knee) returns from injury.

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 13.

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

Jones did not record an offensive snap in Week 13.

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