By: Hussam Patel
With the NFL season almost ending and the Miami Dolphins playoff hopes on the line in the next three games, my Christmas wish is for the Dolphins to eventually make the playoffs.
Although most of you know me by now to be a big NFL Draft nerd, I’ll be making the three players I want in a Miami Dolphins uniform next year.
Charles Cross– OT, Mississippi St.
At 6’5 305lbs, Charles Cross is a DUDE. He had a breakout season in 2020 under a quick, pass-happy attack built by Mike Leach. In 2021, Cross has established himself as one of the top offensive tackles in this upcoming draft class.
Cross fits the ideal scheme of the Dolphins, primarily because Miami operates out of a zone blocking scheme. Cross’ strength lies in the same scheme.
His ability to play in space is because of his pad level and excellent balance to maintain body posture. While Cross may lose his leverage at times, he is able to bounce back and execute moves that he is still able to block defenders.
Cross has really good hands. His punches are consistent, well timed with different punch moves to slow defenders’ momentum. In the run game, Cross’ hands can initially get outside of his frame but he works to reset them on the inside of the defender's frame.
The Bulldog prospect is an athlete for an offensive tackle in part of his lean frame. However, this becomes an issue especially generating power. In the run game, Cross can get initial contact off the line, but cannot maintain it through the block. It may become a long-term issue in the NFL, as defenders are bigger, stronger and faster.
His lean frame does help in pass protection. It may serve Cross to be playing as the blindside protector where his primary role is to protect the passer.
The Miami Dolphins have an impending need at the both tackle spots, Charles Cross fills that void nicely. If selected, Cross has the potential to be a franchise left or right tackle for the foreseeable future. Dolphins fans should be over the Moon if Charles Cross is the pick.
Zach Charbonnet– RB, UCLA
At 6’1 220lb Charbonnet was a Michigan transfer in 2021 that erupted onto the scene with the Bruins in 2021.
Under Chip Kelly’s zone scheme, Charbonnet has compiled around 1,140 yards on 202 touches and 13 touchdowns. Couple that with 24 receptions and close to 200 yards.
Charbonnet is an extremely physical and violent runner which the Miami Dolphins have been actively missing.
He has great contact balance which explains why it takes more than a few tacklers to bring him down. Charbonnets’ feet are actively moving to push for more yards; furthermore, his off-hand is very active leading to numerous stiff-arms.
Zach Charbonnet has really good vision behind the line of scrimmage and the second level. He’s quickly able to diagnose holes to run through and follows blockers and leverages to win low.
Charbonnet has the strength and IQ to pass protect against LB’s, he’s already such a physical back that it will help QB’s to stay in the pocket a little longer. His wide base allows him to take on powerful LB’s.
The only thing I worry about is his home run ability, he’s got a good bursts in space but not enough momentum to carry it in cutbacks and juke abilities.His physical nature makes up for this at the college level but the lost momentum will be a problem in the NFL.
Overall, Charbonnet will greatly impact the Dolphins RB room if he is indeed picked. Miami will have a power back that can churn the pile, pass protect and at times catch out of the backfield.
Drake London– WR, USC
Miami may not need another WR in the first two rounds of the draft, but I would not rule out a possibility of them drafting one.
Drake London's biggest characteristic as a WR is his size. At 6’5 210 lbs., London is a grab and get contested catcher.
When London is in the air, he’s special. His size and arm length threatens defensive backs as he plucks the ball away. London knows with his body type, he will get hit and hit hard. He’s willing to make these catches outside the hashes and over the middle.
Tracking the ball along with mind bending body control are high-level traits for Drake London. He’s able to make adjustments on the fly with such a big frame. Body control on contested catches is a dominant trait where London can use his body to create bigger throwing lanes for his QB.
Drake London is a fluid mover up the field, ease of direction comes to him instinctively. This ability to fly up field coupled with a high football IQ allows London to find soft spots in zone coverage and create separation. His awareness of the optimal areas maximizes his availability as an open receiver.
He has proved that he can beat press coverage, threaten defenses vertically, and can win consistently on slants and back shoulder fades in the red zone. However, there are some questions play speed and ability against man coverage on intermediate routes.
The Trojan product plays with a high pad level. It’s not noticeable in college but can be issues against press coverage in the NFL as it impacts route running ability
London's draft stock may have fell as he had a season ending injury. Injuries during the draft evaluation period are highly scrutinized. The Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle who also had a season ending ankle injury.
Not to mention, London’s run blocking ability is a criminally underrated part of his game. He’s got a strong base and long arms to take on safeties coming downhill and linebackers on the outside. London projects as a big slot, as he can play inside and outside.
Will Fuller has only had 4 catches while spending most of the time on IR, he’s on a one year deal. Preston Williams has been on the field for a limited amount of snaps. Devante Parker has his ups and downs depending on his hamstring. Waddle and Hollins, yes Mack Hollins, have been reliable. Adding another Body to the WR room does not hurt. Adding Drake London certainly would not.
These three players make my NFL Draft Christmas Wishlist as they fill priority areas of need for the Miami Dolphins. An OT that can become a franchise protector, a RB that can pile on yards in short situations and put the game to bed, and a big body WR that can give defenders fits in the passing and run game.