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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper adds trades - Does it impact Miami Dolphins?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Mock draft season is well underway, with everyone throwing out projections of how the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will take place. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., released his latest mock draft on Thursday, and for the first time in his many years of mock drafts, he actually projected trades. How will it impact the Miami Dolphins’ first round?

The biggest impact to Miami is not a move they make. Kiper sees the New York Jets dropping out of the second-overall pick position and back to the fourth spot as the Atlanta Falcons move up to add BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. Given the competition there will be for quarterbacks this year, seeing a team move ahead of Miami - who would likely also be looking to trade back with a quarterback-hungry team - could be detrimental to what they would like to do.

Miami, using the third-overall pick they received from the Houston Texans, add Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith, according to Kiper’s prediction. He explains:

Let’s reunite the Heisman Trophy winner with his former quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa completed 83 passes for 1,519 yards and 18 touchdowns to Smith from 2017 to ‘19. Miami needs to upgrade its wide receiver corps. This is a perfect fit with Smith playing alongside DeVante Parker. I have Smith just ahead of LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase in my rankings, but it’s tight.

It is a move that makes a ton of sense for Miami, who do need to add offensive weapons for second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Smith would provide immediate familiarity for Tagovailoa and would be a great compliment for Parker. You could flip the pick to Chase, as Kiper mentions, and the analysis would likely be exactly the same. If Miami comes away with one of those two receivers in the first round, it will be a great pick.

Could the Dolphins trade back and still land Smith or Chase (or Jaylen Waddle or tight end Kyle Pitts for that matter)? Probably, but it does not seem like Kiper projects someone making that move. Quarterback is the likely position that would make a team trade up into an early pick and, after the first two selections (with the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Trevor Lawrence from Clemson first overall, followed by the Falcons’ addition of Wilson), Kiper does not see another quarterback coming off the board until the San Francisco 49ers trade up to the seventh pick to land Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

The Carolina Panthers with the eighth pick select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, according to Kiper, so they could be a team that needs to trade up if they want Fields over Jones. He also has the New England Patriots trading up to to the ninth pick to add North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. There are five quarterbacks in the first nine picks for Kiper’s latest mock. Can the Dolphins turn that into additional selections?

Miami’s second first-round pick is the 18th selection, with the team adding Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He writes of the pick:

I’m interested to see what Miami does in free agency. With a deep class of free-agent receivers, it’s possible this team could find its No. 1 wideout there instead of using the No. 3 pick on one. In that case, I’d still suggest drafting a receiver with one of these picks and thinking defense with the other. I mocked Owusu-Koramoah to the Dolphins in January; he could be an instant starter with Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill hitting free agency. General manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores have built a solid foundation — this is an ascending team.

Owusu-Koramoah would be an interesting pick for the Dolphins. He is an inside linebacker who has played safety and can cover like he is still a defensive back. He plays the run well and he is a solid blitzer. He could be a perfect addition for the middle of Miami’s defense.

Is a Smith/Owusu-Koramoah first-round the right one for the Dolphins?