The Miami Dolphins had five selections in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning the team has several rookies who are in line to be key contributors this season. Each week of the 2021 season, I’ll be reporting on the progression of said first-year players and their impact on the team. Let’s take a look at how the young bucks fared in their Week 2 contest against the Buffalo Bills.
Jaylen Waddle, WR (Round 1, 6th overall): B-
Waddle, like in Week 1, was again used heavily in Miami’s offensive attack to good effect. He was targeted eight times, corralling six passes for a total of 48 yards and looked like the most explosive player on the field whenever his hands touched the football. He was on the field for 64% of the team’s offensive snaps, second only to DeVante Parker (74%) among Miami’s wideouts.
Unfortunately, Waddle’s contributions on special teams weren’t nearly as fruitful. Following Jakeem Grant’s departure from the contest due to an ankle injury, Waddle was tasked with punt return duties and muffed a Bills punt that resulted in a turnover. Waddle’s freakish athleticism makes him a strong options in the return game, but he’ll need to display surer hands to make use of his talents. Grant’s injury is said to be minor, and it’s possible he resumes his role as the primary returner as soon as Week 3.
Jaelan Phillips, LB (1st round, 18th overall): C
Phillips was on the field for 28% of the team’s defensive snaps, retaining his role as a situational pass rusher from Week 1’s contest (29% snap count). He managed three total tackles, but otherwise had a less than memorable performance. Given Phillips’ ramp up period due to an injury sustained early in training camp, it may be a little while before he’s relied upon as a true starter.
Jevon Holland, S (2nd round, 35th overall): A
Holland has had a stellar start to his NFL career. In fact, he’s currently the highest graded rookie in the league, per PFF. After playing just 32% of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 1, Holland was used as a near-every down player, logging 77% of Miami’s defensive snaps against Buffalo. Against the Bills, Holland racked up three tackles, two quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery which he returned for 11 yards. He was an integral piece of a secondary that limited superstar quarterback Josh Allen to just 17 completions on 33 attempts (51.52%), 179 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception for a 75.2 passer rating.
Liam Eichenberg, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall): C+
After starting Week 1 at left tackle due to Austin Jackson’s placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Eichenberg fell back to his spot as a backup on Miami’s depth chart. That was until Jesse Davis was forced from the game due to an injury. Eichenberg was called upon to take Davis’ place at right tackle and ended up seeing the field for 39% of the team’s offensive snaps. His play yielded a mixed bag of results. Per PFF, he was Miami’s second-highest graded offensive lineman in pass protection, though that’s not saying much when Michael Deiter paced the group with a middling 59.7 grade. Eichenberg’s grade came in five points lower at 54.7.
Head coach Brian Flores has said that Davis’ knee injury was minor and he has a chance to play Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Davis’ play will likely inspire little resistance against the notion that Miami should simply roll with Eichenberg the rest of the way regardless of Davis’ health. Our own Josh Houtz made his feelings pretty clear on Twitter following the contest. Despite being the veteran leader of the group, Davis’ time as a starter may need to come to an end for the sake of Miami’s offense as a whole.
jesse davis should be behind bars for this. pic.twitter.com/OW8MHFwGYu— josh houtz (@houtz) September 21, 2021
Hunter Long, TE (3rd round, 81st overall): N/A
After playing on 33% of Miami’s snaps in Week 1, Long was inactive for this contest, likely in part because fellow tight end Adam Shaheen was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and was available in Week 2. Miami also had tight ends Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, and Cethan Carter active.
Larnel Coleman, OT (7th round, 231st overall): N/A
Coleman is currently on Miami’s injured reserve list.
Gerrid Doaks, RB (7th round, 244th overall): N/A
Doaks is currently on Miami’s practice squad.
Trill Williams, DB (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A
Williams has been inactive for both of Miami’s games this season.
Robert Jones, OL (Undrafted Free Agent): N/A
After seeing the field for zero snaps in Week 1, Jones saw the field for seven plays (9%) in Week 2. The sample size was not large enough for me to give him a grade here, but it should be noted that Flores and offensive line coach Lem Jeanpierre both acknowledge the possibility that a shakeup could be coming to Miami’s front five. After his impressive preseason, there’s a chance we see even more of Jones going forward.
Follow Justin Hier on Twitter @HierJustin.