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2021 Mel Kiper Mock Draft 2.0: Dolphins trade up for first-round pick

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins started the offseason with the third- and 18th-overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 18th pick is their own selection, coming from their 2020 regular season performance. The third pick was given to Miami as part of the 2019 trade of Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans. The Dolphins have since sent that third pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 12th-overall pick, then turned around and sent the 12th pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for the sixth selection.

In his new 2021 NFL Mock Draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., thinks the Dolphins are not done moving around the draft order. He projects Miami to move from the sixth position back up to the fourth spot, landing one spot behind where they started the offseason. Kiper has the selection process starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, then the New York Jets add BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, and the 49ers picking Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

Which brings us back to the Dolphins and the trade to the fourth spot. Kiper writes, “I don’t think it would cost the Dolphins a first-round pick in 2022, but it’s tough to predict without knowing who else is bidding. For this exercise, I think it could take something like a second- and third-round pick next year for Miami to move up two spots. (The Dolphins have an extra third-rounder in 2022 from the 49ers.)”

Now having moved up to the fourth spot, the Dolphins have their choice of any non-quarterback in the Draft. Kiper sees them using the pick on a player who is quickly gaining steam as a potential target for Miami. With the fourth pick, Kiper projects Miami to select Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. He explains the pick, writing, “You didn’t see this one coming, did you? All along we’ve talked about the Dolphins adding weapons for Tua Tagovailoa, and Pitts is the ultimate weapon in this class. Why couldn’t they take him? This gives Miami four really good pass-catchers around Tagovailoa in Pitts, Will Fuller V, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Pitts and Gesicki are versatile enough to play inline or out wide. They’re matchup nightmares for defenses. Another thing to note: Several teams have Pitts at No. 2 overall on their boards. Miami also gets to keep its pick at No. 18 to get help on defense.”

The Atlanta Falcons, with whom Miami traded to get the fourth pick, use the sixth selection on quarterback Trey Lance from North Dakota State, the player they likely would have selected if they stayed at the fourth position, so they added picks in 2022 and still land their target.

Jumping to the 18th selection, Kiper does keep his word with using the selection to get Miami some help on defense. He has the Dolphins selecting Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye. He writes, “Yes, this is the first edge rusher off the board, all the way down at No. 18. It’s not an elite class, but Paye could start a run on edge defenders all the way into Round 2. There is quality overall, even if there aren’t any instant stars. Paye is my top-ranked defensive end, a gifted athlete who didn’t put up sack production at Michigan (11.5 sacks in four seasons). Teams will be on his potential and traits, though. With two picks down so far and the trade up for Kyle Pitts, Miami has two players who rank No. 1 at their positions.”

The Dolphins come out of the first round with two picks that make a lot of sense for them. Pitts, as Kiper points out, pairs with Mike Gesicki and immediately gives Miami a two tight end offense, with either player able to split out wide or play on the line. Paye should immediately provide pass rush for the Dolphins, continuing to build a dominating defense.

Kiper was not done, however, as he pushed on with second-round picks. Miami is back on the clock with the 36th overall pick, the fourth in the round, again from Houston in the Tunsil trade. Here, Kiper again gives Miami a presumed starter on offense, adding North Carolina running back Javonte Williams. He explains, “Williams is a really good player, a back who breaks tackles and has some wheels. There isn’t that much separation between Williams, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne as the top backs in this class. This is a massive hole for Miami, and it still has another pick (No. 50) to add offensive line help.”

Continuing to forecast his picks ahead of time, Kiper does use the 50th overall selection for Miami to add Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield. He writes, “So let’s recap my projections for the Dolphins. They get an instant starter at tight end at No. 4, a defensive end with upside at No. 18, an RB1 at No. 36 and a potential starter at tackle here. Mayfield played right tackle for the Wolverines, and he could play there for Miami, with Robert Hunt moving back inside to guard. He has great footwork for a lineman. Consider these four picks as needs filled for the Dolphins.”

He is not wrong. This mock does systematically address some of the top needs for the Dolphins with high potential players.

Plus, you know Stephen Ross would love to see two selections in the first four coming from Michigan, right?