The 2021 NFL Draft was an exciting one, with teams drafting whatever players they can to chase and capture the Lombardi Trophy. A lot of fans and analysts alike are praising the Dolphins’ draft choices, filling in-depth for some positions while adding some well-needed new starters to the roster. This season is shaping up to be a wild one that everyone is hyped for.
With the dust settled, it’s time to look towards our future and predict who will come out on top of this 2021 draft class. Now, let’s look towards the future:
3. T, Liam Eichenberg
With Robert Hunt moving to right guard at the start of next season and after watching Jesse Davis is more of a liability than anything, the Dolphins needed to make a move swiftly and surely. After passing up on Penei Sewell to draft Jaylen Waddle (some fans didn’t like that), the Dolphins decided to address this issue by drafting Liam Eichenberg, a tackle from Notre Dame.
Eichenberg is a pass-blocking monster, as while he was blocking in college, he never allowed a sack in a span across two seasons. This includes playing games against Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson (twice). If that doesn’t prove the talent Eichenberg has while blocking, then the tweet below shall further this point:
He’s almost perfected the art of sealing defenders off, making them useless at the point of attack. He can keep his feet moving, and you’ll rarely see him off-balance no matter who is rushing him. He also possesses good speed and agility that helps him dart to the second level. He also possesses great strength as he showed many times on film he shoves defensive lineman or linebackers with proficiency.
While he has shown struggles against blitzes and he isn’t the best against rushers with a great amount of speed, he could still go on to have an exciting 2021-22 season. He’ll give up a few sacks (it’s the NFL after all), but don’t expect him to be a liability like Davis. Expect him to be reliable.
2. S, Jevon Holland
With the cap becoming an increasing issue for the Miami Dolphins, they have decided to cut safety Bobby McCain. No matter what happens, one rookie drafted will get a chance to succeed, and that rookie is none other than Javon Holland. With the hype surrounding him after fans went more in-depth about his playstyle, it seems as though he can make a statement in the NFL in his rookie year.
In 2018 as a safety in his freshman season, in 382 coverage snaps, the ball was thrown in his area 43 times, leading to 26 catches for 325 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions with a 60.5 completion percentage. He achieved a spectacular 89.6 PFF grade for that season. When he was moved to cornerback in 2019, his grade went down to 85.4, posting 539 coverage snaps with 72 targets thrown his way. He allowed 45 catches for 487 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions with a 62.5 completion percentage.
Those are solid numbers for someone starting in his freshman and sophomore years. He also has an enticing skillset that lets him thrive within the slot; that’s something I’ve said a lot of as of late. To address his main perks, Holland does an outstanding job of staying with his assignments and can trackballs in the air with simplicity. He’s a ball hawk specializing in both zone coverage and man coverage schemes; he also makes it taxing to catch the football.
Holland is someone who will make their mark once the season begins; if he didn’t opt out in 2020, he would’ve been a first-round choice. He can effortlessly be second on the team in interceptions behind Xavien Howard, and he’ll be able to make a lot of key plays as well. Holland could be a dark horse for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
1. WR, Jaylen Waddle
With the Dolphins’ organization wanting yet another weapon for Tua, they snagged him with the sixth overall pick.; the Dolphins selected Jaylen Waddle, a wide receiver out of the University of Alabama, and Tua’s former teammate. With the speed and dynamics he brings, he has a shot to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, making him the tenth receiver to win the award.
Waddle had a great career in Alabama while playing behind other Alabama receivers like Henry Ruggs III and Devonta Smith. In three years, he caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns. In his last season, before he was injured, Waddle had 28 catches for 591 yards (21.1 yard average per catch) and four touchdowns. He always recorded 100+ receiving yard games, exempting the championship game he played while still hurting.
On Waddle himself, he is one of the most eruptive and dynamic players in this draft, with the fact that he can hit his top speed in the blink of an eye. He can burn any secondary no matter what zone or coverage type they play, swiftly sprinting past them like it’s not even a bother. His catching is great as he can reel in any ball with simplicity; he also has great route running, and that helps give him more opportunities to make a play.
Waddle will be a behemoth in the slot, with Fuller and Parker taking the wide receiver one and two spots, respectfully. Waddle averaged 123.8 yards per game just from playing from the slot last season; that is insane no matter where you’re lined up. I’d expect him to be in the slot this season, however, don’t be surprised when he goes off and possibly has a 1k yard season.
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