Training camps are approaching, which means the new season is looming closer and closer upon us. There is a motherload of young players ready to storm the field and make their marks in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins have their fair share of youngins (yes, a 19-year-old said that) ready to prosper at their respective positions.
There are always one or a couple of young players that stand out from the rest. Justin Jefferson, 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, of the Vikings is a good example of this. With that said, here are three Dolphins players that I think will explode in 2021.
Disclaimer: “young” includes players under or right at 25; the average age for the players on the Dolphins roster is 25.13, so there will be a fair share of players glanced over. I will have an honorable mentions (HM) area at the end.
Of course, we have to add at least one rookie to this list, and who better to pick than Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was selected with the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL, drafted to immediately be a starting WR. He’s fast, elusive, and, more than anything, he can catch the football pretty well; moreover, he has good foot quickness and is good in and out of the breaking point. He will be in the slot his rookie year.
While that may be true, he has a chance to be Tua’s #2 target. Remember that Tua and Waddle has a pretty solid connection back in 2019 even with Waddle behind a superb WR core at Alabama. If the connection thrives just like they did at Alabama, then we could expect a good tandem in Tua and Waddle.
Waddle has already shown flashes of game-changing abilities at mini-camps previously. Moreover, it seems as though the connection I spoke about earlier hasn’t changed at all during mini-camps:
All Dolphins’ fans should be excited about what we could see with Waddle in 2021.
2. Jerome Baker
One of our defensive stars on the rise, and someone who has the potential to break out on the defense is none other than linebacker Jerome Baker. Baker signed a three-year, $39 million extension after an impressive 2020 season. He totaled 112 total tackles (70 solo), seven tackles for a loss, 11 QB hits, seven sacks, three pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. His coverage stats were average for a linebacker (allowing a 70.2 completion percentage), but it was a significant improvement from last year (75.5%)
Baker has a shot to truly make the Pro Bowl this year. He has been on an upward trend ever since he came into the league, and it seems like he will keep doing just that; Baker has led the Dolphins in tackles twice in back-to-back years (2019 and 2020), which proves this trend. He is one of the best young linebackers in this league, and he can easily keep this going.
As long as he keeps improving his coverage and continues to be a stud tackler, we could see him explode as a Pro Bowl-caliber talent, which would be the first of his career.
The one young player I think who could truly explode this season is Tua. Coming into his second year in the league, he will be the starting QB for the Dolphins, and he has shown strides in improvement throughout mini-camp. He has an aggressive mindset, and he has the skills necessary to win games for the Dolphins. While he does need to make some changes with his decision-making, Brian Flores and co will be able to work with him and improve that area in his game.
Tua has a great cast of characters in his receiving core. It includes his former teammate and previously mentioned Jaylen Waddle, former Texans’ WR Will Fuller V, DeVante Parker, and a probable Pro Bowler in Mike Gesiki. The Dolphins running back core may not be the best, but Gaskin and Brown will both be serviceable to the offense, respectively.
Tua played in ten games last year, starting in nine. He attributed to a 6-3 record, throwing for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions, along with a 64.1 completion percentage. These are solid numbers for his first year starting; Tua is looking to silence the doubters and haters this season, and this year, he has a shot to do just that.
Honorable Mentions (no order):
- Jevon Holland
- Raekwon Davis
- Christian Wilkins
- Austin Jackson
- Jaelan Phillips
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