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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Kiper and McShay joint-ESPN three-round projection lands Dolphins WR early

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off next week. We are nearly there as we all work our way through Mock Draft Season. As we are reaching the culmination of projections, predictions, assumptions, and smoke screens, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay have released a three-round, joint 2021 NFL Mock Draft, alternating picks throughout the process. They stress that this is what they would do as the general manager for each team, not what they think the team will actually do based on sources or rumors.

Kiper started the picks, taking all of the odd numbered selections. That means McShay made the first Miami Dolphins pick, using the sixth-overall selection to add LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. He explains the pick, writing, “Chase is my No. 1 wide receiver, and Miami absolutely has to get another weapon for Tua Tagovailoa. Suddenly he’d have Chase, Will Fuller V and DeVante Parker. You can win with that trio.”

Based on the way the board fell, with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts being selected fourth by the Atlanta Falcons, Chase is absolutely the right pick for Miami here. Parker, Fuller, and Chase is a dynamic trio and should give Miami an explosive offense, especially if they are able to add a running back later in the Draft.

McShay is back on the clock for Miami’s 18th-overall selection, using it to add Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to the Dolphins’ roster. He writes, “We got the Dolphins a receiver in the top 10, so I’m turning to the defense here and getting them something they haven’t had in a while: a versatile linebacker who can cover and fill multiple roles.”

The key piece in McShay’s statement is the “cover” part of Owusu-Koramoah’s abilities. The Dolphins need that coverage linebacker to assist with tight ends and running backs. They get that here in what is a really good pick for Miami.

The Dolphins come back up in the selection process with the 36th-overall pick, giving McShay another selection for Miami. He returns to the offense with the selection, adding another Notre Dame player, this time offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg. He explains, “Getting Tua Tagovailoa a receiver (Ja’Marr Chase) was half the battle. How about a clean pocket? I expect GM Chris Grier to invest picks in this offense, and I’m doing the same. Eichenberg is versatile enough to play tackle or guard.”

Miami’s 50th-overall pick keeps McShay responsible for the Dolphins’ selections, and he sticks with the offensive line here. He adds Texas tackle/guard Samuel Cosmi for the Dolphins, explaining, “With no running backs in this range, it’s more protection for Tua Tagovailoa. And like Liam Eichenberg, Cosmi is versatile and can play inside or outside. Let’s see if Tagovailoa is truly the guy for Miami.”

The offensive line is likely to be an area Miami targets, though they could also trust that an incumbent veteran (guard/tackle Jesse Davis), 2020 first-round pick (tackle Austin Jackson), a 2020 second-round pick (tackle Robert Hunt), a 2020 fourth-round pick (guard Solomon Kindley), a 2020 free agent signing (guard Ereck Flowers), and two 2021 free agent signings (tackle D.J. Flucker and center Matt Skura) could put together a solid line for this year. Adding an offensive lineman or two early in the selection process is not out of the realm of possibility for Miami, but neither is using the picks on other positions.

Running back is the likely top area Miami has yet to address, but, to be fair to McShay’s process in selecting Dolphins players, Alabama’s Najee Harris was selected 24th by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Clemson’s Travis Etienne went 33rd to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams was selected 35th by the Atlanta Falcons. In the span between Miami’s 18th-overall pick and their next selection at 36, all three of the top running backs came off the board. Turning the attention to the offensive line makes sense - though looking for an edge rusher could also be an option.

The edge rusher comes up with the 81st-overall pick, Kiper’s first crack at adding a player for Miami. He selects Duke linebacker Chris Rumph, writing, “How did McShay have the Dolphins’ first four picks? Rumph has some versatility — Duke used him all over the field — but he fits as an outside linebacker for the Dolphins, who need more from their pass rush this season. He had eight sacks in 2020. His dad, Chris, is the Bears’ defensive line coach.”

Rumph and Andrew Van Ginkel could be a good combination of rush linebackers creating pressure for Miami.

Getting through the first three rounds with a wide receiver, a coverage linebacker, two offensive linemen, and a rush linebacker would be a great haul for Miami. Getting shut-out of the top three running backs would be a tough situation, but the Dolphins do seem to like and trust Myles Gaskin, so it might not be a season-ending miss. I probably would not have doubled down on offensive line, giving some flexibility for edge or secondary, or even another receiver in the second- or third-round, but this is not a horrible mock for Miami.