The Miami Dolphins were not supposed to be contenders in 2020.
They were not supposed to be in the playoff conversation, let alone have a winning record.
Instead, they were a pleasant surprise, finishing at 10-6 and second in the AFC East.
Though they fell just short of January football, their foundation is an indication of what is to come.
Brian Flores created a winning culture and has the team ready to contend as soon as next season.
They have a stout defense and a developing offense that has the right pieces in place.
With a few tweaks, it will not be long until the Dolphins are a force to be reckoned with.
And with four picks in the first two rounds, the time is now for them to capitalize.
Miami Dolphins 2021 Draft Picks: 1 (Houston), 1, 2 (Houston, 2, 3, 4, 6 (Washington), 7 (Atlanta), 7 (Kansas City). That’s 9 picks and plenty of flexibility to go with it.
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 11, 2021
Here are the three positions Miami needs to address in the 2021 draft.
Whether it is Tua Tagovailoa or another rookie quarterback, the Dolphins need another receiver.
Outside of these two staples, though, there is not much to be excited about.
Preston Williams has the skills to succeed but struggles with drops and injuries.
Miami could select Jamarr Chase from LSU or DeVonta Smith from Alabama with their first pick.
Pairing Smith with Tagovailoa would be especially intriguing, considering they used to be teammates on the Crimson Tide.
WHAT. A. GAME.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 9, 2018
Either would be a fine selection, but using that high of a pick for a wide receiver is reserved only for generational talents.
Therefore, it is likely that Miami uses their second first-round pick or either of their second-rounders to draft a wide receiver.
The team lacks a vertical threat that can win off the line of scrimmage and create instant separation.
Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, Florida’s Kadarius Toney, or Purdue’s Rondale Moore are ideal fits for the Dolphins.
All are small in stature but have explosive playmaking abilities that will make any quarterback’s job easier.
The Dolphins fielded one of the best defenses in the league last year.
When the offense struggled to move the ball, the defense stepped up and kept them in the game.
They had a league-best 29 takeaways and extended their turnover streak to 22 games.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) January 3, 2021
They also limited opponents to just 21.1 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.
However, they still gave up the tenth most passing yards and generated pressure at a mediocre 23.5% clip.
To compensate, the Dolphins sent a blitz on 44.1% of their plays, second only to the Ravens for the highest percentage.
Adding a pass rusher should help alleviate these woes.
The Dolphins likely got a close look at Gregory Rousseau, Quincy Roche, and Jaelen Phillips, who all played for the Hurricanes.
Other options Miami should look at include Kwity Paye out of Michigan or Carlos Basham from Wake Forest.
Wake Forest DE Carlos Basham Jr.
6-5 285 lbs
• Using long levers to clear block
• Tracks TLaw’s movement in pocket
• Contains edge & burst to close on QB
— Damian Parson 🏈 (@DP_NFL) December 10, 2020
Any of these players would create a solid tandem with Emmanuel Ogbah.
In 2020, Miami decided to rebuild its offensive line by drafting two linemen within the first two rounds.
"[Robert] Hunt had four games with a run blocking grade above 80.0 in the second half of the season…if Hunt enters 2021 as a starter again at right tackle, he could have a fine season."#FinsUp https://t.co/Zp3hszkTCb
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) January 19, 2021
Jackson struggled more between the two, giving up 38 pressures.
Hopefully, a full offseason should expedite their development, but the offensive line could still use some help.
Since they own Houston’s third overall pick, Miami could select Oregon standout Penei Sewell.
Scouts regard Sewell to be the best non-quarterback in the draft, and his addition would turn this unit into a strength.
If Miami chooses to wait, they could draft Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater or Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis.
Regardless, choosing a lineman to protect the quarterback should be a high priority for this team.