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Miami Dolphins, 2021 NFL Draft

Miami Dolphins: 5 potential targets in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft

After being one of the worst teams in the league, the Miami Dolphins turned things around in the 2020 NFL season where they notched a 10-6 record. However, their win-loss tally still wasn’t enough to secure their spot in the postseason after their crucial Week 17 defeat against the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins now turn their sights on the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

It’s there where they are expected to draft players that can further help them improve. They currently have the third overall pick which they received from the Houston Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade.

They also have the 18th pick in the first round which is their original draft position based on the result of their 2020 campaign. These projections are made with the assumption that the Dolphins would keep Tua Tagovailoa and would maintain the order of their picks in the draft.

Here are five potential prospects that the Miami Dolphins can turn to in the 2021 NFL Draft:

5. Ja’Marr Chase

Miami Dolphins, 2021 NFL Draft

Another evident hole in the Dolphins’ rotation is a reliable wide receiver. Current WR1 DeVante Parker has been through a tough season where he was only limited to 793 yards on 63 receptions and four touchdowns in 14 appearances.

Apart from him, the Miami Dolphins are already running thin on its receiving corps. They can possibly turn to LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the event that he falls down the board at the 18th spot.

Chase served as one of the primary targets of Joe Burrow during their time together with the Tigers. He concluded his sophomore season with 1,780 receiving yards on 84 receptions and 2o touchdowns. His solid performance led him to be the recipient of the Biletnikoff Award back in 2019.

Despite a stellar season, he opted to sit out his junior year primarily due to concerns for the COVID-19 pandemic and chose to focus on preparing for the draft instead.

Ja’Marr Chase remains to be an incredible weapon for any team but his absence over the past year will certainly raise some eyebrows among league front offices. However, it is also highly uncertain if he will still be available for the Dolphins when they draft with the 18th pick.

4. Azeez Ojulari

Perhaps one of the most under the radar prospects in the upcoming draft would be Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari. As a standout for the Bulldogs, his numbers have consistently improved year-in and year-out until his junior season. Ojulari accumulated 31 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles in 10 appearances in 2020.

He also tallied four tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl en route to a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats. Weighing in at 240 pounds, Ojulari has shown his versatility to play the linebacker position but is also hefty enough to be a mobile edge rusher in the league.

The Miami Dolphins may have already formed an improved defensive line but getting another reinforcement on that end of the field will help them gain a significant edge moving forward.

3. Najee Harris

Miami Dolphins, 2021 NFL Draft

Aside from their receiving corps, the Dolphins are also flat-footed in the running game, an area in which they aren’t exactly known for. Among all their ball-carriers, only sophomore Myles Gaskin has shown that he can emerge as a potent threat for the Dolphins moving forward.

Miami’s offense will be far more dangerous if they can land Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 18th pick in the draft. The 22-year-old recently concluded his senior year with monster tallies of 1,466 yards on 251 attempts and 26 scored touchdowns. He also finished fifth in the 2020 Heisman Trophy voting behind his teammates DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones.

Harris also performed well under the bright lights in the 2020 National Championship Game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He led the team’s rushing attack and ran 79 yards on 22 carries and scored two rushing drives for the Crimson Tide.

The California native still needs to build on his strength to thrive at the next level but if he does, then he can potentially be another Jonathan Taylor in the making. His familiarity with playing alongside Tagovailoa could also be a major factor that can prompt the Dolphins front office to consider acquiring his services in the upcoming draft.

2. Penei Sewell

Another area of concern for the Miami Dolphins would be the team’s offensive line. Although it has already vastly improved over the past season, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell can definitely be the piece that will solidify the entire unit.

He was a force to be reckoned with during his first two seasons in the amateur ranks. The Samoan began his freshman year in 2018 and protected quarterback Justin Herbert for two-straight seasons.

The success that Herbert previously attained with the Ducks can also be attributed to Sewell’s ability to block pass-rushers from getting to the quarterback. His solid run in 2019 led him to be selected as a unanimous All-American and was included in the First-Team All-Pac-12.

Similar to Chase, Sewell also opted to forego his junior year in the 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, he was still projected as a top prospect all year long and will certainly go early in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Acquiring a talent like Sewell would certainly benefit Tagovailoa as he would help the quarterback buy more time to operate in the pocket and execute better plays on offense.

1. DeVonta Smith

Dolphins, NFL national anthem protest

It would certainly be a no-brainer for the Dolphins to grab Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith with the third overall pick if he is still available on the board. There is a huge possibility that the 22-year-old can land in Miami due to the respective situations of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets, with both squads needing a quarterback.

Smith recently capped off one of the best individual seasons in college football history. He recorded 1,856 receiving yards along with 23 touchdowns en route to becoming the 2020 Heisman Trophy Winner.

His monster performance in the 2020 National Championship Game also served as the cherry on top of his stellar campaign. Smith generated 215 receiving yards on 12 receptions and three touchdowns to lead the Crimson Tide to a commanding 52-24 victory for the 2020 National Championship.

Similar to Harris, Smith has already formed a connection with Tagovailoa during their time together in Tuscaloosa which will certainly be an advantage for the team. Getting the best wide receiver of the 2021 NFL Draft class will certainly propel the Miami Dolphins to greater heights moving forward.