Chris Grier needed to add some dynamic talent to this roster and on day one of the 2021 NFL draft, and he did just that.
I won’t take any kind of victory lap here, but the Dolphins targeted the exact same positions I forecasted in my final mock draft. Jaelan Phillips and Jaylen Waddle are two of the most talented players in the 2021 draft, and Miami was able to stay put and select both. Let’s look at each player and see what they can bring to the Dolphins in 2021.
No. 6. Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama
I had DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as my 2a and 2b wide receivers in this draft. They’re both fantastic and it just came down to which one Miami preferred-stylistically. In a piece I wrote about Chris Grier’s draft tendencies, I concluded that offensive tackle or wide receiver were the likely pick at No. 6 overall, and that was the case.
What kind of player is Waddle?
In one word: explosive.
Anything can happen when the ball is in Waddle’s hands. He played primarily from the slot at Alabama and will likely fill a similar role in Miami. He’s going to run a lot of seams, posts, and overs, but he’s capable of more than that. He can run a fairly complete route tree and is absolutely deadly in the screen game. Waddle had an injury-shortened season in 2020 due to an ankle fracture, but injuries weren’t a major issue at Alabama.
Waddle’s previous struggle had been getting enough targets. Alabama’s receiving corps has become legendary for its depth. In 2019, he had to compete with Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, and Smith for targets. In 2020, he was finally getting a large enough target share through the first four games. He was on pace for 81 catches, 1,807 yards and 13 touchdowns prior to this ankle injury. These weren’t cupcake matchups either — Missouri, Texas A&M, Mississippi, and Georgia.
Why Waddle is the right pick.
What was something that Miami struggled to do in 2020? Produce explosive plays and regularly stretch the defense, vertically. After adding Will Fuller in free agency and now drafting Waddle, Miami immediately becomes one of the fastest receiver rooms in the NFL. This will pair beautifully with their myriad of solid possession options — DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki. The Dolphins’ offense will be significantly more explosive in 2021, and Waddle will be a big reason why.
No. 18. Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
This was the exact pick that I had forecasted for the Miami Dolphins at eighteen, and I think they made an excellent move. In my previous draft tendencies article, I stated that “none of the edge prospects are likely to be top-ten picks, but 18th would be a good spot to grab one.” Due to injury concerns, Phillips fell to eighteen and Miami got one of the more talented players in this draft.
What kind of player is Phillips?
Dynamic, well-rounded, and extremely active. Phillips is athletic enough to give tackles fits as an edge rusher and big enough to kick inside a little and stuff the run. He’s far and away the most talented edge prospect in this class. Some other players may have better traits, but if you compare their college tape-it isn’t even close. Phillips’s story is well documented at this point, but if he stays on the field he is going to produce at a high level in the NFL.
Why Phillips is the right pick.
The Dolphins can’t afford to take any more safe picks. There’s a hidden risk with every draft selection, Phillips’s is just well documented. Miami needed to add someone on the edge who can get after quarterbacks, but also set a strong edge in the run game. Phillips is the only player I’m confident can do that right out the gate, and he has the physical traits to improve as a pass rusher. The injury history is going to turn some people off, but luckily, Grier wasn’t one of those people.
- 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
What to look for in day two.
At the moment, Miami owns the No. 36 and No. 50 picks in the second round, and No. 81 in the third round. The Dolphins could still use an offensive tackle, center, and running back. They have other needs, but those are the most urgent. Grier also loves to draft cornerbacks in day two, so don’t be surprised if Miami pulls the trigger on a corner they like rather than address an immediate need.