The 2021 NFL Draft ended on Saturday. While the focus is primarily on the prospects selected and the undrafted free agents being signed, there is also the start to the 2022 mock draft season. It is way too early to take this as anything more than a simple guess - a guess at the draft order, a guess at the team needs, and a guess at the players who will have “first-round grades” - but it is still interesting to see what people think about the potential prospects and the teams.
When it comes to the Miami Dolphins, apparently Jason McIntyre from Fox Sports sees them missing the playoffs and continuing their never-ending hunt for offensive linemen. Describing his draft orders as a “combined projection of season win over/unders and educated guesses on who finishes where,” McIntyre has the Dolphins landing the 11th overall pick. As a comparison, the 11th pick in 2021 was originally the New York Giants’ selection, a pick they gained after a 6-10 2020 season. In other words, McIntyre is not anticipating a great year in South Florida.
The Dolphins do not make the 11th pick in this mock draft, however. Miami has already traded that pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, Miami is selecting in the San Francisco 49ers’ position, which is 23 according to McIntyre. And with that selection, they target Tennessee offensive linemen Cade Mays. McIntyre writes, “Some way-too-early projections are based on high school rankings – and Mays was the No. 3-ranked LT in the Class of 2018 when he picked Georgia before transferring to Tennessee.”
I know these way-too-early mock drafts are throwing darts at a dime while blindfolded, but if Miami is still looking for offensive linemen in the first round of the 2022 Draft, there are bigger problems in South Florida. Adding linemen in the second- or third-day of the Draft, sure. You can always use more linemen. But, Miami needs to be looking elsewhere in the first round.
Not to mention...picking 11th? Really?
Over on Yahoo! Sports, Derrick Klassen sees things a little better for the Dolphins. He has Miami landing at 19th, which would make them a Wildcard team in 2020. Again, that pick is actually the Eagles’ because of the trade. So, jumping to the 49ers’ spot where Miami has a pick, the team uses the 28th selection on Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith.
Klassen writes, “Smith was ‘stuck’ behind Azeez Ojulari on the depth chart last year, but do not mistake that as him being a meaningfully worse player. Smith was the No.1 recruit in the 2019 signing class and possesses all the absurd speed, explosion, and quickness expected of a player like that. Smith mostly played behind Ojulari for seniority and run defense related reasons, I would assume, but the pass-rush potential is exciting and the Dolphins could still use another guy there.”
Hopefully Jaelan Phillips, Miami’s second first-round selection this year, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Emmanuel Ogbah can produce the type of pressure on opposing quarterbacks that makes an edge rusher an unnecessary pick next year. However, you can never have too many pass rushers, so this pick is not a horrible place to think Miami could be looking.
Like Klassen, Yardbarker has Miami earning the 19th spot as a playoff team. With the 26th pick from San Francisco, the Dolphins add Perrion Winfrey, defensive tackle, Oklahoma. They write, “A potential run-stuffer weighing around 300 pounds, Winfrey had 17 tackles in 2020 as he gained playing time. He enters a big senior season for his draft stock.”
At Pro Football Network, Ian Cummings has Miami’s pick coming in at 20, again a playoff team position. As for Miami making the 49ers’ pick, that comes in at 26. He actually also has Perrion Winfrey as Miami’s selection, explaining, “Standing at 6-foot-3, 297 pounds, Perrion Winfrey is an explosive defensive tackle who fits well as a three-technique in the Dolphins’ scheme. The Dolphins’ overall roster solidity gives them some flexibility here, so they strengthen their interior rotation.”
This pick would make a ton of sense. The Dolphins could be looking for interior defensive line support next year. Raekwon Davis is likely Miami’s nose tackle this year, with Christian Wilkins and Ogbah as the defensive ends and players like Jason Strowbridge, Zach Siebert, John Jenkins, and Adam Butler as depth/rotational players. Adding another player into that rotation, especially a run-stuffer, could be exactly where Miami is looking to start the 2022 Draft.
Obviously trying to link a specific player to Miami this early is futile. But getting an idea of what people are thinking for the Dolphins - both in terms of where their pick will be and what position they could be targeting - is interesting and worth a look.