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Dan Jamroz, Phinfever Draft Analyst, Miami DolphinsAlright, guys, this my first attempt at a mock draft which will be eviscerated by unexpected free agent moves.

I do not expect Miami to be spenders. They have indicated the goal is extending their homegrown talent and will probably kick the can on a few inexpensive spare parts. I could definitely see them trading a 4th or 6th Round pick for a reasonably priced veteran to avoid free agent bidding if said player is on the chopping block (think Brandin Cooks in Houston).

I also see Miami pushing to trade down for 2022 assets.

FYI, I am not projecting trades at this point but I'll hint at a couple.

Here we go!

1. Jacksonville - Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson

2. New York Jets - Justin Fields QB Ohio State

3. Carolina - Zach Wilson QB BYU

4. Atlanta - Micah Parsons LB Penn State

5. Cincinnati - Penei Sewell OT Oregon

6. Philadelphia - Ja'Marr Chase WR LSU

7. Detroit - Devonta Smith WR Alabama

8. Miami - Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama

9. Denver - Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama

10. Dallas - Kwity Paye DE Michigan

11. New York Giants - Caleb Fairley CB Virginia Tech

12. San Francisco - Rashawn Slater OT Northwestern

13. Los Angeles Chargers - Christian Darrisaw OT Virginia Tech

14. Minnesota - Kyle Pitts TE Florida

15. New England - Zaven Collins LB Tulsa

16. Arizona - Najee Harris RB Alabama

17. Las Vegas - Gregory Rousseau DE Miami

18. Miami - Joseph Ossai Edge Texas

19. Washington - Alijah Vera-Tucker OT/OG USC

20. Chicago - Trey Lance QB NDSU

21. Indianapolis - Alex Leatherwood OT Alabama

22. Tennessee - Teven Jenkins OT Oklahoma State

23. New York Jets - Samuel Cosmi OT Texas

24. Pittsburgh - Wyatt Davis OG Ohio State

25. Jacksonville - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame

26. Cleveland - Ronnie Perkins Edge Oklahoma

27. Baltimore - Azeez Ojulari Edge Georgia

28. New Orleans - Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota

29. Green Bay - Jaylen Mayfield OT Michigan

30. Buffalo - Travis Etienne RB Clemson

31. Kansas City - Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina

32. Tampa Bay - Nick Bolton LB Missouri


Okay, let's digest a few things. Your first question will be why I have Jaylen Waddle at 3rd overall. I think Miami is going to trade down with Carolina. Carolina's big bid to get Matthew Stafford tells me they want a guy like Zach Wilson and took an early shot to get the 30-year-old version of him. My guess is Miami acquires Carolina's 2022 1st Rounder and either a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick as well (might be higher if they are willing to take a 2022 pick).

Waddle is exactly the type of receiver Miami needs. Great hands, one of the fastest in the draft, and without a doubt the most electric playmaker.

I think the Jets (if they do not acquire Deshaun Watson) will look for a guy who can handle the pressure of the New York market. That is why I have them going Justin Fields over Zach Wilson. I read that Washington may pursue Sam Darnold so add another pick to New York's war chest.

Joseph Ossai at 18? Another trade back scenario but I do not yet know who it will be. Ossai is versatile and appears to be a Flores guy. Miami needed to get creative with their blitzing so a natural pass rusher like Ossai is in order.

You'll also notice a very large run on OL prospects. The draft seems quite top-heavy in that area so my hunch is teams will be aggressive in their pursuit of QB protectors, especially tackles.

The only Day 2 pick I will discuss at this point is Center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma. In fact, if Miami had to trade up from the 36th pick I would applaud the move. Some people prefer Alabama's Landon Dickerson but Humphrey has been on draft radars for a few years. Grier and Flores will value his character, leadership and steady play.

We can discuss other picks after free agency shakes out and teams really begin to set their draft boards.

The Good

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The Bad

Tua Tagovailoa had his worst game as an NFL QB, throwing 3 picks. Right now, Tua has done nothing to convince any objective (i.e. not a Tua fanboy) that he is the QB of the future. Yes, the wide receivers struggle to get open. Yes, the running game needs a ton of improvement. But watching Tua throw, his arm strength isn't convincing when he does decide to go downfield, which isn't often. His accuracy beyond 10 yards is inconsistent at best. He has played very tentatively. Whether by design or because that is in his DNA remains to be seen. I wouldn't put it past the Dolphins to make another splash move at QB this offseason. And I wouldn't blame them. If I were them, I would not rest all my laurels in the Tua basket.

The defense was atrocious. After a solid 1st quarter, they completely fell apart. Josh Allen did whatever he wanted in what was essentially a warm-up game for the playoffs for him. Nik Needham couldn't cover Isaiah McKenzie even if he knew what route he was running before the play. After an incredible season, it was such a letdown by this defense.

The Ugly

Even though the Dolphins are "ahead of schedule" in their rebuild, the way they lost to the Bills was disconcerting. It goes counter to everything this team showed this season. The team played through injuries, hung tough with the defending Superbowl champs and finished with a winning season. Despite this, the loss to the Bills raised some serious eyebrows regarding the lack of talent and the overall coaching.

Overall

The future looks bright for the Dolphins. They finished 10-6 and have the 3rd and 18th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. The Dolphins will also have a high-2nd rounder to go with their mid-2nd rounder. They are well-positioned to pick up some talented players again.

However, a huge question mark remains at quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa did very little to demonstrate he is the quarterback of the future. In fact, we have more questions than answers. Can he throw deep? Can he throw intermediate? Can he command a team? Can he show significant improvement in year 2?

The Dolphins have two viable paths here:

1. Acquire talent, specifically at wide receiver, to give Tua weapons to throw to that can get separation and focus on improving the run game significantly. Draft a QB later in the draft as an insurance policy. The risk in doing so is the Dolphins may "waste" time and resources to prop up Tua for him to not develop into a franchise QB.

2. Take another QB at the top of the draft, therefore immediately creating a QB controversy and forsaking at least one pick that could be spent on top offensive talent. The reward here may be that you finally address the QB position, which is the most important position on the field and one that HAS TO BE addressed in order to turn the franchise into a viable Superbowl contender.

It will be an interesting offseason, for sure.

As the regular season winds down we are seeing a lot of chatter about which moves Miami will make to further improve their team after an impressive sophomore campaign for both Chris Grier and Brian Flores. Make no mistake, they will be bold, but perhaps not in the way you think. This will not be Jeff Ireland going on a spending spree. This will be a cold, calculated effort to get this team to contender status.

For the last two decades, we Miami fans are used to the front office marrying itself to players. Instead of seeing what some analysts see, they ignored the problem and tried to solve it through an oversaturation of resources. For example, rumor has it that former Head Coach Joe Philbin knew early on that Ryan Tannehill could not carry a team. Instead of bringing in competition Miami attempted to get him flashy weapons. It never panned out. But it wasn't just the inferiority of Tannehill's play, it was the offense in general simply hoping certain young guys would blossom. That will not be the case going forward.

Let's look at Grier's and Flores's brief history to date. In the 2019 offseason, Flores brought in Chad O'Shea and Patrick Graham to be his coordinators. Miami traded a 2nd Round pick to acquire QB Josh Rosen who had been a top 10 pick just a year earlier. They invested a 3rd Round pick in highly touted Center/Guard Michael Dieter. They put the pieces in place to be a decent team who, with a little luck, could make some noise. That all ended very quickly. Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills were shipped out for draft capital (value vs emotion), Minkah Fitzatrick was shipped off after not buying into the program, Kenyan Drake was dealt with after underperforming and attitude issues, and Josh Rosen was permanently benched after a flashing a bit but never taking command.

Fast forward to the 2020 offseason. Grier and Flores evaluated what worked and moved swiftly. Both coordinators were fired and replaced. Rosen was not going to be rehabbed or built around. Dieter and other young guys who had moments but not consistency quickly found the bench or their walking papers. Miami made some big signings which included Byron Jones, Ereck Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah and Jordan Howard. They spent early draft picks on Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt, and Raekwon Davis. No waiting around for acorns to develop or hyped guys to overcome their troubles. The results of their bold actions, in both player and coaching upgrades, have Miami on the doorstep of the playoffs for the first time in four years. Don't expect them to stop there.

Miami heads into this offseason with about $40 million in cap space, two 1st Round picks (including the 3rd overall), and three picks on Day 2. The obvious holes are in the wide receiver and running back groups, but let's not pretend improvements can't be made in other areas. Miami may replace guys you would not expect them to and they may address positions you think require more patience. This much I know - Grier and Flores aren't going to wait around and endure mediocre results. They are not afraid to cut the chord or bring in competition at any position. If you perform up to or above expectations they will reward you - see Zach Sieler, Adam Shaheen, Devante Parker (last year), Eric Rowe (last year). It is reminiscent of the old Bill Belichick model.

I don't know how things will turn out once we hit February and March. Your guess is as good as mine. But for once I am extremely confident in the abilities of both the General Manager and Head Coach to construct a winner. They will target guys they think will perform and not be afraid to move on from poor evaluations or mistakes. It is an excellent example of setting egos aside for the hope of a championship and we can see that same attitude building with the players.

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