The Miami Dolphins have shocked NFL fans early on in 2020, emerging as possible AFC East contenders for years to come. As the organization looks towards the 2021 NFL Draft, the future is bright.
But success hasn’t always come easy in Miami. Over the last two decades, the Dolphins have made the playoffs only four times. They’ve advanced out of the Wild Card-round only once before they were quickly blanked 27-0 by the Raiders in the 2000 AFC divisional game.
The organization hasn’t made a Super Bowl since 1984. They haven’t won a championship since Super Bowl VIII in 1973.
But finally, it looks like Miami is headed in the right direction. The team hired breakout coach Brian Flores in 2019 and drafted Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, signaling a desire to build through youth.
Looking towards the future, the Dolphins have a chance to continue to build a star-studded roster in the upcoming 2021 NFL draft.
Take a look at the Miami Dolphins mock draft preview for 2021.
Miami’s 2020 Season
Before talking about where the Dolphins are going in the future, it’s important to talk about where they are right now. Miami seems to have found a long-term head coach in Flores and now has started to plug in pieces to form a cohesive roster.
Also, management and the coaching staff have started to place trust in Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins used the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL draft to take the former Alabama quarterback. Doing so seemed like a massive risk, after Tagovailoa broke his hip against Mississippi State on Nov. 16, 2019. As a result, Miami elected to ease their young rookie into the system.
37-year-old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick started the team’s first six games in 2020. He completed over 70 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but the Dolphins ultimately decided to shift responsibility to their first-round draft pick. During the team’s bye week in Week 7 of the season, Flores named Tagovailoa as the team’s starter.
At the time, the team was 3-3 and in second place in the AFC East.
What draft picks do the Dolphins have in 2021? How?
Although it’s too early in the 2020 season to know exactly, chances are that Flores and the Dolphins will have a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft.
Miami has the Houston Texans to thank for that. The Dolphins traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to Houston for two first-round picks plus a second-rounder earlier in 2019
With the Texans poor start to the 2020 season, it looks like Miami got the better of the 2019 blockbuster. The Dolphins will now have two first-round picks and two second-round picks in 2021. With four early rounders, Miami should be able to address multiple needs.
Who should Miami take in the 2021 NFL Draft?
It’s no secret that the Dolphins need to address defense in this upcoming draft. Through seven games, Miami ranked among the best in scoring defense, but has struggled when it comes to yards allowed.
Assuming they’ll will get a shot at a top-5 pick, the Dolphins could target Micah Parsons.
The linebacker from Penn State opted out of the 2020 Big Ten season, expecting to be a top draft pick in 2021. Parsons totaled 109 tackles and forced four fumbles in 2019, ranking among the nation’s top all-around defensive players. Standing at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, the 21-year-old is full of untapped potential.
A second defensive player for the Dolphins to target is Miami Hurricanes edge rusher, Gregory Rousseau. Despite opting out of the 2020 season, the 20-year-old finished second in the NCAA with 15.5 sacks in 2019. He also stands at 6-feet-7-inches tall, providing a unique skillset for rushing the quarterback.
Although Flores made improvements to his pass-rush in 2019, more young talent can never hurt. Rousseau should be available later in the top-10 if the Dolphins fall that far.
Further down the line, perhaps in the second round, the Dolphins should target Alabama running back Najee Harris. The Crimson Tide senior is having a breakout year in 2020 and might still be available if the draft breaks Miami’s way. Although second-year ballcarrier Myles Gaskin has had a strong 2020, getting the chance to pair up Tagovailoa and Harris in the backfield would mean a scary Nick Saban-taught tandem for the Dolphins.
What’s next for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins?
As the Dolphins finish out the 2020 season, the primary focus should be on developing their rookie quarterback.
Tagovailoa’s first career start on Nov. 1 against the Rams wasn’t a sight of beauty. The 22-year-old completed only 54 percent of his passes threw for just 93 yards, but he picked up his first NFL win.
Realistically, 2020 might not be the year for Miami to make a deep postseason run. Having a young rookie quarterback lead a team takes time and the coaching staff knows that.
But if the Dolphins can continue to build through the draft, there’s no telling where Tua Tagovailoa might take them in 2021 and beyond.