The Miami Dolphins finished the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft with Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle heading to South Florida to join fellow draft pick, edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, who remains in the area after being selected from the University of Miami. Both picks set up Miami well for the 2021 season, but they clearly are not done with the draft process.
As we close in on the start of the second night of the Draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein has released a day two mock draft. The Dolphins have three picks in the next two rounds, two second-round selections and one in the third round, so Miami will continue to be busy Friday night. How does the board fall for Miami, according to Zierlein?
The second round would seem to start perfectly for the Dolphins, who could be targeting UNC running back Javonte Williams with the fourth pick of the round. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected Travis Etienne last night, are not in the market for a running back, selecting Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore with the 33rd pick. The New York Jets then select Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell, the Dolphins seeing a potential landing spot for Williams pass the runner. The Atlanta Falcons then use the 35th pick to grab TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. Miami is set to grab a top player at a position of need.
Except they do not.
Zierlein does not have Williams come off the board until the 49th pick, one selection before the Dolphins’ second second-round pick. The running back lands with the Arizona Cardinals in the projection. That means the Dolphins could land a key player in the middle of their defense in Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, right?
Owusu-Koramoah stays on the board until the Los Angeles Chargers pick him with the 47th selection.
So, where does Miami go with the 36th-overall pick? They do pick someone from Notre Dame, but instead of Owusu-Koramoah, they grab his teammate, offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg. The move makes sense in terms of protecting Tua Tagovailoa, but they do pass on several other pieces they need in this scenario. Zierlein writes of the pick, “With Robert Hunt bumping inside to guard, Eichenberg could step right into the starting RT spot.”
I think this is a bad situation for Miami. I could justify it, but they could wait until the 50th pick to get a lineman and grab someone like Williams or Owusu-Koramoah here.
What does Zierlein have Miami do with the 50th selection? He almost makes up for passing on Owusu-Koramoah. With this pick, he projects Miami adding Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning. He explains, “Browning has plenty of tools to work with, as well as experience playing inside and outside linebacker.”
I think Browning is absolutely on Miami’s draft board as a target they could take with this pick. If Zierlein had Miami selecting Williams at 36 and then Browning at 50, this could be a perfect scenario for the Dolphins in the second round. Instead, it feels like they settled for players instead of continuing to be aggressive.
Jumping to the third-round, Miami has the 81st-overall pick. Here he has the Dolphins double down on edge rusher, with Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins joining Jaelan Phillips in the position group. He does not provide explanations for the third-round picks, but he wrote a profile of Perkins before the Draft. There he said:
Productive but undersized defensive end who might need to prove he can play standing for a 3-4 scheme. Perkins is tight-hipped and a very average athlete with production coming thanks to his hard-charging motor as well as Oklahoma’s slant-heavy defensive front. He’s tough but the lack of bend has a distinct impact on his anchor and contact balance at the point of attack. Despite some physical deficiencies, he plays with forward focus and the attitude to go find the football. There are differences of opinion in the NFL scouting community regarding his NFL potential, but the lack of traits and functional quickness are challenges that could limit him.
I do understand the idea of doubling down on edge rushers, but I feel like this is not the right place or the right player. I would rather have seen Miami target someone like Texas A&M defensive tackle Bobby Brown III, who was selected 84th by the Dallas Cowboys in this mock, or Alabama center Landon Dickerson, selecting 94th by the Baltimore Ravens. Those picks would make more sense to me at this point.
All that said, coming out of the second day with a wide receiver, two edge rushers, an offensive tackle, and a linebacker does answer a lot of needs for the Dolphins. They would miss out on a running back, which could happen in the real Draft and would not be devastating for Miami in 2021, presuming Myles Gaskin is ready to take the next step this season, but it could be a solid first three rounds.
I would do it differently, especially with Williams and Owusu-Koramoah on the board at 36, but Zierlein does fill needs for the Dolphins in his day two mock.