We are just about a month away from the NFL draft and football fans across the country are eagerly awaiting to see which new players will be taking the field for their favorite team come September. This draft cycle feels like the longest one in recent history because we were robbed of a lack of media presence at the Senior Bowl, there was no traditional combine, and all the pre-draft interviews and visits are taking place virtually. It feels like every mock draft has been the same since January, and we were all just waiting until a big move finally shook up the pre-draft landscape. Well, on Friday, that move finally happened as two major trades altered the top 12 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The first trade that took place was the San Francisco 49ers moving up to the third overall pick, giving the Miami Dolphins pick 12, a 2022 third, and their firsts in 2022 and 2023. The 49ers were able to move up into the top five and guarantee themselves a chance at one of the big four quarterbacks in this year’s class. Miami wasn’t done, however, as the team quickly made another deal moving back into the top 10 of the draft by trading their newly acquired 12th overall pick, a 2021 fourth-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the sixth overall pick, and a 2021 fifth-round pick.
While the initial trade with San Francisco and Miami stole the majority of the headlines, the second trade is just as intriguing for a variety of reasons. The first being that it ensures that the Eagles will be running it back with second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts—because if the team had significant interest in drafting a quarterback this year, they clearly wouldn’t have done this deal. For the Eagles, this trade makes exceptional sense as they’ll still be able to get a very talented non-quarterback at No. 12, while also picking up an extra first-round pick in 2022 to have at their disposal which could come very handy in the event Hurts isn’t any good.
For Miami, trading back up to No. 6 just means that they clearly have a couple of players targeted who they badly want, but know won’t be there at No. 12. One has to think that if Miami wasn’t in on a quarterback, the player they were targeting at No. 3 is very likely to be there three picks later because we could see four quarterbacks go in the top five. In this situation, Miami would have moved down three spots, and picked up an extra first- and a third-round pick, while still being in prime position to get their top target. Well done, Chris Grier.
Again, chances are Miami has a few players at the top of their board who they will feel great about picking at No. 6 overall, and there’s a very real chance that all three players Miami is prioritizing are available when they are on the clock. Here are the three players I believe the Dolphins have their eyes on, in the order I believe they have them stacked on their board.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Miami’s No. 1 priority this draft will be to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with as many playmakers as possible so the team can properly evaluate him. Watching Tagovailoa last year, it was clear that even though he didn’t look great, his supporting cast left a lot to be desired. The team has already added a deep threat with the addition of Will Fuller in free agency, but they still can add another receiver to truly have a strong group of pass-catchers. Chase is the best receiver in this class, having excellent size, speed, and strength, coupled with outstanding hands and ball skills. Chase is an extremely physical receiver who can win with power and toughness at the line and at the catch point. His ability to win in contested salutations at all three levels of the field is exactly what Tagovailoa needs and would be a great complement to Fuller as an intermediate receiver. Chase has the qualities of a true No. 1 receiver on the outside, and that’s what’s needed in this offense.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
While tight end may not be the team’s biggest need, there is a very real chance that Pitts is the highest graded non-quarterback on their board. Pitts is a rare prospect at the position and even though he is listed at tight end, he can win from all over the field. Pitts has rare size and athleticism with outstanding hands and body control. His large catch radius and ability to win from in-line, the slot, or on the outside will allow Tagovailoa to reach his true potential. A 12-personnel formation that consists of Pitts and Mike Gesicki would be extremely difficult to defend and is essentially a quarterback’s dream come true.
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
This one would probably be the least exciting option for Dolphins fans but would still be an outstanding selection. Sewell is as good of an offensive line prospect as you will find, and if he somehow slips past the Bengals at No. 5, the Dolphins will have to think long and hard about adding him to their offensive line. If Miami elects to take Sewell, they can either play him at right tackle and kick second-year player Robert Hunt inside to guard, or they can play Sewell at left tackle and shift last year’s first-round pick Austin Jackson to the right side. Either way, the addition of Sewell would make this offensive line very athletic, young, and have an opportunity to develop into one of the best units in all of football. For me, knowing that Tagovailoa already has durability concerns, I like the idea of having a strong offensive line in front of him and ensuring he won’t be getting hit as often as he otherwise would.
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