Schrager’s mock draft starts off quarterback heavy, with the Jags-Jets-Niners going Trevor Lawrence-Zach Wilson-Mac Jones. He has the Patriots trading up from 15 to 4 to nab their future QB in Justin Fields. Honestly, that’s not insane. We’ve seen teams jump double digits spots to grab their QB of the future, and Atlanta is in a position to trade down, compile picks, and ride Matt Ryan for a few more seasons.
Next, he has Ja’Marr Chase going #5 to Cincinnati. A curious pick, as the Bengals already have two very good WRs in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but an offensive line bad enough to cause Joe Burrow’s foot to be put on backwards. So, the Dolphins sit at 6 with a world of wonderful options available, including TE Kyle Pitts.
Schrager projects Miami to take OT Rashawn Slater. (Maybe he was infatuated with Slater’s 500-pound front squats that surfaced recently on social media. Which is ridiculously strong, by the way.)
Penei Sewell is considered by many to be the higher-end OT prospect, so the pick itself becomes questionable right there. Slater is still a first round player, but at 6, that seems like a bit of a stretch, especially with a player like Pitts falling into their laps.
A comment from Houtz summarized what many Dolphins fans, yours truly included, felt:
And that’s exactly the type of backlash that Schrager got on social media from Miami fans. It seemed borderline insulting to many fans to see Miami make such a questionable move, and they let Schrager have it on Twitter, as he explained here:
"I've been doing these mock drafts for many years. I've never gotten the response from one that I did yesterday from @MiamiDolphins fans. I had them passing on TE Kyle Pitts for an offensive tackle, and well, it didn't go well." -- @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/HusjFooWul— GMFB (@gmfb) April 9, 2021
Schrager’s main point was: how often do tight ends go at #6 or higher? He notes the answer to that is five times in the history of the NFL. In the modern era, only Kellen Winslow, Jr. (6th, 2004) and Vernon Davis (6th, 2006) have gone that high. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1973, when Charlie Young was taken #6 overall by the Eagles. Schrager also noted the historical trend of offensive tackles getting picked before tight ends.
I get what history says, but my main problem is two-fold. First, Kyle Pitts wasn’t playing football in the 1970s, or the 2000s, etc. He’s a special talent that is going to be a major problem for NFL defenses in the foreseeable future. He’s an X-factor that can take an offense over the top. Pair him with Mike Gesicki, and Miami suddenly has the best TE room in the league (including New England after their fancy new contracts). Tua has a new stick-moving, red zone target, and an adept blocker in the running game. That’s a heck of a way to help your quarterback.
The other issue is Miami isn’t as bad at their tackle spots as some of these national pundits might think. Take Sewell or Slater and shift Robert Hunt inside? Eh, perhaps. Is that a glaringly-obvious move the Fins need to make to be competitive? I don’t think so. Conversely, if I’m wrong about the line and Chris Grier/Brian Flores really want to go tackle, there’s options behind Sewell/Slater (hello, Christian Darrisaw), and they could even try to move up from 18 to land a sliding Sewell/Slater.
Bottom line: Pitts is a generational type of player that’s a game-changer for an offense. Passing on that would be a major mistake, recent NFL draft history for TEs be damned.
And that’s what the powerful Dolphins fanbase let Schrager know.