By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Despite a series of trade rumors, the Miami Dolphins appear to be “all in” on second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa. The former Saint Louis School standout and 2020 NFL first-round pick had an uneven rookie season – Tua himself described it as “below average” – but showed enough promise to earn another shot as the team’s starting signal caller.
One thing is for certain: For Tua to have the best chance to succeed, he will need help. That means more weapons and better protection. Miami did well to acquire receiver Will Fuller during the free agency period. The Dolphins later signed troubled offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson, a first-round pick in 2020. But the team waived him just three days later after he showed up late for his appointments and skipped a couple of workouts.
The 2021 NFL Draft is April 29 to May 1, and there is little doubt that Miami will look to provide a better supporting cast to build around Tua. The Dolphins currently have two first-round selections (No. 6 and No. 18). Barring trades, here are players Miami could target:
ROUND 1, PICK 6:
JA’MARR CHASE: Although he opted out of the 2020 college football season, the 6’0, 210-lb. Chase is generally considered the top receiver in this draft class. Had a dominant season in 2019, helping LSU capture the national title. Projects as a No. 1 receiver who can do it all. Has the potential to be a Júlio Jones- or AJ Green-type receiver.
DEVONTA SMITH: If Chase is the top receiver in the 2021 draft, Smith might be 1A. At 6’1, 175 lbs., the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama has a smaller frame but should excel as a big-play performer. He and Tua obviously have a connection. It was Smith, after all, who caught Tua’s -yard TD pass in overtime to give the Crimson Tide the national championship.
PENEI SEWELL: If the Dolphins think they can land an elite pass catcher at No. 18, they could decide to draft Oregon tackle Penei Sewell at No. 6. At 6’6, 325 lbs., Sewell is considered to be the draft’s top offensive lineman and as close to a “sure thing” as there is. A pass-protecting beast like Sewell would go a long way in helping Tua improve his accuracy (64.1% last season, 29th in the league).
KYLE PITTS: Speaking of weapons, the 6’6, 245-lb. Pitts should be a Top 10 selection and is widely thought of as the best tight end prospect in many years. ESPN draft guru Todd McShay says, “Kyle Pitts, to me, is a freak. He’s just different than every other player that I’ve watched in college football on the offensive side.” On the other hand, the Dolphins already have a tight end in fourth-year player Mike Gesicki, who had a breakout season in 2020 (53 receptions, 703 yards, 6 TDs).
ROUND 1, PICK 18:
NAJEE HARRIS: If the Dolphins seek to upgrade at running back – and they should – Harris would be an excellent fit. The 6’2, 230-lb. Harris is a complete back who has impressed scouts with his pass-catching skills. Picking an RB at No. 18 is a bit high, but the Dolphins might not want to pass up on this dual threat.
ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER: Vera-Tucker is an athletic offensive lineman who is 6’4 and 300 lbs. He primarily played left tackle at USC, but may be better suited as a guard. Either way, Vera-Tucker would provide needed versatility and athleticism on Miami’s offensive front.
CHRISTIAN DARRISAW: The 6’4, 315-lb. Darrisaw blossomed into one of the nations’s top offensive tackles at Virginia Tech. He is athletic and skilled enough to make every type of block. Darrisaw has been favorably compared to two-time Pro Bowler Russell Okung.
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