The chatter in the national media has been so heavy about what Miami will do at #6. Is it Kyle Pitts? It is Ja’Marr Chase? Is it Penei Sewell? Is it DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle? Will they trade back? Given the option of landing one of the most heralded players in the draft, the chatter is understandable.
However, it almost feels like many are overlooking the fact the Dolphins have a second first rounder, with the option of still adding an elite talent. Forget the Pitts/Chase/Sewell talk for a minute, and let’s talk about the four players that I would love to see Miami land at 18 (or closer by trade). This takes into account players that I think have at least a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of being there, so rule out players like Smith being there at 18, because, let’s face it, that ain’t happenin’, folks.
4) Najeh Harris, RB, Alabama. Some say you should only draft a running back in the first round when you’re a piece or two away from truly contending for a title. I don’t necessarily agree that’s the case as a hard and fast rule. Even if that is the case, I’d say when you win 10 games, you really aren’t all that far away.
Miami needs to improve its ability to run the football, and Harris is the most complete back in this draft by a wide margin, in my humble opinion. I cheered on Myles Gaskin as much as anyone last year, but having a bigger back that can break through contact and get the extra tough yard or two between the tackles is a nice luxury to have. Harris is a load at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds. He’s also a very good receiving back with soft hands and a willingness and physicality to be a strong pass protector. I would be very happy if he was taken at 18, as it could be tricky to see him still on the board at 36 with RB-needy teams ahead of Miami.
3) Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami. If there’s one player who came on strong late, it’s Phillips, but lordy, did he ever. Last year, in his first year at Miami, he tallied 8 sacks in 10 games and was just plain unblockable for much of the season. He completely remade his body and filled out his 6-foot-5, 266-pound frame. He has the length to keep tackles at bay, an explosive get off, and held his ground firmly against the run all year. If there’s a better all-around player suited to stop the run and generate a consistent rush than Phillips, I’d like to know who. I’ll take that type of dual-tiered production all day, every day.
2) Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. It’d be hard to see the top inside linebacker in the draft fall this far, and I think it’s a long shot that he would. That said, if he started to slide towards the mid-teens, he’d be one of those players you ecstatically assume your team was taking if and when the team in front of yours also passes on him. Parsons’ pro day was phenomenal, showing the 6-foot-3, 246-pound linebacker hasn’t lost a step after opting out of the 2020 season. However, rumors about possible character concerns have led some to wonder if he will have some kind of a slide on Thursday night.
What I really love about Parsons is the versatility he brings. He can play inside (obviously), he can play outside in a 4-3, and he can rush the passer off the edge. That versatility would allow Brian Flores and Josh Boyer more flexibility to mix up alignments and create confusion for opposing offenses.
1) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame. If the Dolphins were to stay at 18, this is who I would pick based upon who I think is most likely to be available and who I think is the best overall player. I think Owusu-Koramoah is the most complete overall linebacker in this draft. His coverage skills are defensive-back-esque. He’s so good he was able to cover slot receivers one-on-one, and do it well. With his size and coverage skills, he can line up as an extra safety and slide up, or vice versa.
Coverage skills, especially in the NFL today, are of the utmost importance, so being able to grab a defender who can help cover elite receiving options (especially tight ends) is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. We saw how the Bucs’ Devin White and Lavonte David were able to do completely shut down Travis Kelce and the middle of the field in general in the Super Bowl. That’s what today’s NFL linebacker has to be able to do. A human swiss army knife, Owusu-Koramoah fits that bill.