The 2021 NFL draft is almost here. Make no mistake, this draft will be a critical one for the Miami Dolphins.
As it stands, the Dolphins have just one truly elite every-down player on the roster — Xavien Howard. Jason Sanders, too, is a top-tier prospect at his respective position, but kickers don’t make a down-to-down impact. Dynasties need superstars, and Miami is currently lacking in that department.
There could be a few lying in wait, but this roster still needs an infusion of talent.
For that reason, I’m throwing caution to the wind with this mock draft, and I think it’s what Miami needs to do as well. Ideally, of course, you would draft ultra-talented players with no red flags. But there will be picks in this draft where the Dolphins can either select a player with rare traits and some baggage or go the safer route. In my eyes, I say shoot for the moon come Thursday.
With all the extra draft picks aquirred months heading into the NFL Draft, it’s necessary the front office is risky with a few of them. That said, here is my seven-round mock draft.
Note: this is a no trade mock draft
Anytime I write out a mock like this it includes no trades because it presents a much more useful exercise. It forces you to make tough decisions and really prioritize certain players and positions.
No. 6. Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
This selection has been hotly debated since Miami traded into the number six pick. In reality, there are only good options here and it has to be why general manager Chris Grier traded up to be in this spot. Sewell, Slater, Chase, Pitts, Smith or Waddle all have valid arguments for being the selection at six. In my previous mock, I had Miami taking tight end Kyle Pitts in this spot, but there’s a real possibility that he’s the first non-QB off the board and won’t be available.
With that said, no one should view Ja’Marr Chase as some kind of consolation prize. There are a lot of over-generalizations about Chase’s game, but I have to push back on a few of them…
Ja’Marr Chase is not slow.
His forty time should be enough to put this to rest, but there can be discrepancies between a forty-yard dash and play speed — I get that. Chase typically uses quickness and variable speed to create separation. When those don’t work, he’s strong enough to bully corners as well. When the balls in his hands or he gets a step on a defender, he’ll show his straight-line speed. His game isn’t built off speed — no one will mistake him for Jaylen Waddle, but it’s there.
He’s a decent route runner with room to grow.
I’ve heard people reference his route running as a negative and that just isn’t true. Granted, he may not be a route technician like DeVonta Smith or Rashod Bateman, but he isn’t bad either. Look at it this way: he produced at an elite level at nineteen years of age and hadn’t mastered his route running yet. With some work there, it could take his NFL game to the next level.
He’s not just a 50/50 jump ball guy.
I completely get why people see him as a jump ball receiver. A lot of his highlight-reel plays are when Joe Burrow just uncorks a prayer and Chase uses his elite body control and hands to go up and get it. He is fantastic in this area, and Joe Burrow hasn’t been the same deep ball thrower without him, but he can do a lot more for an offense. He catches more underneath throws than people realize and he’s an underrated YAC weapon.
Chase absolutely dominated college football as a true sophomore at nineteen years of age. He was the number one target on LSU’s 2019 championship team that featured the most productive rookie receiver in NFL history in Justin Jefferson. He tested out of this world and didn’t have major injury issues at LSU. This is a no-brainer, giving Tua Tagovailoa a legit number one receiver and reap the benefits for years to come.
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 201
- Arm: 30 3/4
- Hand: 9 5/8
- Vertical: 41 <—
- Broad: 132 <—
- 40-yard: 4.38 <—
- Short shuttle: 3.98 <—
- 3-cone: 7.00
- Bench: 23 reps
No. 18. Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
This is probably the pick that has the most risk associated with it, and I love it. It took me a while to conclude this, but after countless hours of watching all the top edges in this class — Oweh, Paye, Ojulari, Rousseau, Tryon, Basham, Ossai — it has to be Phillips.
Let me give a quick refresher for those that aren’t aware of Phillips’ back story. In 2017, Phillips was the number one high school recruit in the nation and chose to play at UCLA. After a car hit him while riding his scooter that gave him a serious concussion in 2018, he medically retired from the sport. After being away from the game for a year, he returned to play his junior year at the University of Miami and looked like a man possessed.
There are a couple of reasons Phillips makes sense here, even with the injury risk.
He’s clearly the best edge in this class-talent wise. There isn’t another edge prospect whose 2020 tape is in the same neighborhood as Jaelan Phillips. Azeez Ojulari might be close, but he doesn’t have the prototypical size and physical tools that Phillips possesses. Phillips can win inside, outside, on pass sets and in the run game. He is a true three-down edge and can succeed in any situation.
Phillips is an impressive athlete in his own right. Players like Kwity Paye and Jayson Oweh will go in the first round because of their insane physical tools, not because of what they put on tape. Phillips maybe isn’t the same level of athlete as those two but is the perfect blend of traits and production.
He’s a top ten talent that Miami will have the opportunity to get at eighteen. Let me put it to you this way: If Jaelan Phillips had never medically retired and just put together a junior season like this, the Dolphins would’ve had to use the number six pick to get him. There’s a risk here, but favor fortunes the bold. If you’re going edge at eighteen, Phillips is the guy.
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 260
- Arm: 33 1/4
- Hand: 9 3/4
- Vertical: 36 <—
- Broad: 125 <—
- 40-yard: 4.56 <—
- Short shuttle: 4.13 <—
- 3-cone: 7.01
- Bench: 21 reps
No. 36. Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle, Texas
In a prior mock draft, I selected Alex Leatherwood from Alabama here. I think both players make sense, but I would trust Cosmi’s pass protection over Leatherwood’s early on.
The Dolphins direly need an offensive tackle after trading Ereck Flowers and deciding to move Robert Hunt to guard. They have some internal options and there are a few viable free agent tackles, but they need to fill the spot long term as well.
Luckily for Miami, this is an excellent draft to need an offensive tackle. Last year’s class was heavy with talent — Wirfs, Becton, Wills and Thomas — but the 2021 class is as deep as it gets. Cosmi was a three year starter at Texas and is one of the more experienced offensive tackles in this class. He has played at both left and right tackle and has been one of the better tackles in the nation since his red shirt freshman year in 2018.
For starters, he’s a fantastic offensive tackle prospect and is a steal at the top of the second round. He also has some of the best match and mirror ability in this draft class. His anchor isn’t perfect, but he can stand up to most bull rushes. Cosmi had the best pro day of any offensive lineman and would be Miami’s most athletic member of their offensive line. Athletic, technically proficient and experienced, this isn’t a tough decision if he’s there at thirty-six.
- Height: 6’6″
- Weight: 314
- Arm: 33
- Vertical: 30
- Broad jump: 117
- Short shuttle: 4.39 <—
- 3-cone: 7.35 <—
- 40-yard: 4.84<—
- Bench: 36 reps<—
No. 50. Quinn Meinerz, Interior Offensive Lineman, Wisconsin–Whitewater
Quinn Meinerz is a player I’ve been consistently mocking to the Dolphins on day two. Meinerz has owned the pre daft process, starting with his impressive week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Meinerz played his college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III program, so his biggest concern was always going to be the level of competition that he faced. The Senior Bowl was his chance to go against NFL talent, and he absolutely dominated the entire week, vaulting himself up draft boards.
The Dolphins need a center. There has been turn over at the position since Mike Pouncey left and they need to start investing there outside of cheap veteran deals. Meinerz isn’t the most experienced center and hasn’t played a lot against legit competition, but he’s an ascending player. He also tested out exceptionally well for a big man.
Meinerz may take a little while to adjust in the NFL, but he’s shown that he doesn’t shrink from big moments. Brian Flores was his coach at the senior bowl and he had to be impressed by how he played and handled himself. Meinerz is also an eccentric prospect, and if his level of play comes close to his level of personality, he’s going to be a massive star. Miami should take a risk on an up and coming star that is just scratching the surface of what he can be.
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 320
- 40-yard: 4.86<—
- Short shuttle: 4.47
- 3-cone: 7.33
- Broad jump: 111
- Vertical: 32<—
No. 81. Trey Sermon, Running Back, Ohio State
I originally had Miami selecting Javonte Williams at the top of the second round, but once tackle became a glaring need, I knew there wouldn’t be any available past thirty-six. That isn’t the end of the world though, because Trey Sermon can do a lot of the same things for Miami’s offense.
Sermon began his career at Oklahoma and was productive from his freshman year on. He transferred to Ohio State after he saw his work load diminish in favor of Kennedy Brooks in 2019. Sermon had a quiet start to his Buckeye career, but absolutely exploded towards the end of the 2020 season. In a three game stretch prior to the National Championship against Alabama, Sermon posted 636 yards on ninety carries with four touchdowns. That’s nine yards a carry against Michigan State, Northwestern and Clemson.
In those final games, Trey Sermon showed what he is capable of. Sermon has excellent burst, balance and agility and can provide tough yards between the tackles. He had an impressive pro day and has all the tools to be a successful NFL running back. He will not be an asset in the passing game, but Myles Gaskin took several steps forward in that area last season. Sermon and Gaskin would make for an excellent pairing in the backfield. Plus, Miami wouldn’t need to use a first or second-round pick to do it.
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 215
- Arm: 33 3/8
- Hand: 9 3/8
- 40-yard: 4.57
- Short shuttle: 4.28 <—
- 3-cone: 6.83 <—
- Vertical: 37<—
- Broad: 125<—
No. 156. Marco Wilson, Corner Back, Florida
After Jaelan Phillips, this would have to be the second most controversial selection, but I feel strongly about this one. Xavien Howard will turn twenty-eight prior to this season and Byron Jones will turn twenty-nine during it. We know that regression can hit unexpectedly, especially for players approaching and eclipsing thirty years of age. Drafting Noah Igbinoghene in the first round was a smart move. You have to develop younger corners to take over when that regression hits or contracts expire. It also should be noted that cornerback is one of the few positions that need three solid starters because plenty of teams have three solid wideouts.
Marco Wilson is a traits-based prospect at this point and his on-field performance left something to be desired. He has all the athleticism you could ever need and has extremely fluid movement skills. On some plays, he looks like an absolute superstar and on others he looks like he doesn’t belong on a football field. He’s also developed a reputation for making boneheaded decisions, but I believe everyone deserves a chance at redemption.
Wilson has a rare combination of size and athleticism. His combine would be impressive if he were 5’9″, but the fact that he’s six feet tall makes him legitimately freaky. He also needs to go somewhere where he can sit and learn behind accomplished veteran corners and take direction from a strong-willed head coach — both of which Miami has. If you can get him to play consistent and under control, Marco could have a great NFL career outside or in the slot.
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 191
- Arm: 30 3/4
- Hand: 9 5/8
- Vertical: 44 <—
- Broad: 136 <—
- Short shuttle: 4.13<—
- 3-cone: 6.80<—
- 40-yard: 4.37<—
- Bench: 26 reps<—
No. 231. Darrick Forrest, Safety, Cincinnati
The safety position is one that Miami should definitely consider adding to in this draft. Forrest was a defensive leader for a historic 2020-21 Cincinnati Bearcats team and is an extremely versatile safety prospect. He has the ball skills and range to be an asset in coverage and is a very willing run defender.
We’re talking about day three flyers at this point in the draft, but Forrest is a pretty good bet. Brian Flores and Chris Grier have shown a preference for adding players that show leadership as college athletes, and Forrest fits that description. He also tested extremely well and could add valuable depth early in his career, with the potential to develop into a starter down the road. He could also thrive as a special teams contributor early in his career.
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 206
- Arm: 31 7/8
- Hand: 9 3/4
- Vertical: 39 <—
- Broad: 132 <—
- 40-yard: 4.42 <—
- Short shuttle: 4.23 <—
- 3-cone: 6.91 <—
- Bench: 21 reps<—
No. 258. Tedarrell Slaton, Defensive Tackle, Florida
We’re pretty close to drafting “Mr. Irrelevant” here, but don’t let that turn you off to Slaton. He has shown a lot of potential in his career at Florida, he just could never fully realize it. Slaton is a massive dude, and at his best, he can take on multiple blockers and clog up running lanes with the best of them. He won’t provide anything as a pass rusher and that is likely going to be the case for his entire career, but run defense still matters.
Miami should be in the market for a true zero tech. Raekwon Davis is great, and I think highly of him. With that said, he isn’t built like a traditional nose tackle and his development is going to stifled playing there. By adding someone who can clog up the a-gaps on early downs, you have the freedom to slide Davis down the line where he can do more work as a penetrator. If Slaton can harness some of that raw potential, he could eventually be a productive NFL nose tackle, just what the Dolphins need.
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 330 <—
- Arm: 32 5/8
- Hand: 9 1/8
- Vertical: 29
- Broad: 97
- 40-yard: 5.09 <—
- Short shuttle: 4.81
- 3-cone: 7.91
- Bench: 27 reps
No risk, no reward.
Some of these draft selections come with more risk than a lot of fans are going to be comfortable with — and that’s ok. I made these picks because I feel strongly that Miami needs to add game-changing talent to this roster, or they’ll be stuck in that eight to ten win purgatory that we’re all so familiar with. Every draft pick comes with risk. Some are known, like Jaelan Phillips, and some isn’t, like Isaiah Wilson. The upside of what these players can be is worth it, and it’s time to take some chances.