By: Jason Sarney
Following a New Year's Day Rose Bowl for the ages, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith further made the case for Dolphin Fans to be swooning over him come April’s NFL Draft.
In a playoff type atmosphere, 7 catches for 130 yards and a hat-trick of scores will do that to a fanbase. Let alone a potential reunion with Tua Tagovailoa rekindling their Roll Tide connection.
Although there was a calendar turn less than 24 hours ago, the nation of Orange and Aqua loyalists and draft enthusiasts usually look forward from January 1st towards the NFL Draft. Not that there's anything wrong with early draft prep however lest we forget, the Dolphins are a 10-5 win team heading into a win-and-in-the-playoffs-game at Buffalo on Sunday.
Is it too early to do all of this Mock Drafting? Perhaps. Yet, it is a fun hobby with a loaded stack of chips in the picks that general manager Chris Grier has in real life, and us simulators have at our disposal for Mocking on New Years Day.
(Sounds like a song)
There will be many, and I mean MANY mock drafts heading your way on PhinManiacs in the coming months. This one will be based on a philosophy, and a tweak of an idea that was shooting around social media New Years Day during Smith’s eye-opening national performance.
There will be a trade.
Here is my Mock Scenario called – The DeVonta Deal
First off, as this article is being written, there is no absolute guarantee that the Miami Dolphins will still own the exact #3 pick from the Houston Texans they do at the current moment. As we all know, anything could happen on any given Sunday and that draft order can still be tweaked heading into the official close of the NFL regular season.
This article will be written with that assumption and if the Dolphins do remain at #3 it is all but certain that one of two potential generational players could be available to them in which I believe Miami must choose whomever remains. Those being offensive lineman Penei Sewell of Oregon or middle linebacker from Penn State, Micah Parsons.
For purposes of this article we're going to have some fun with the draft capital that Miami has accumulated after that Houston Texans #3 pick that materialized from the Laremy Tunsil deal last season.
Thank you, Bill.
In this mock scenario we could all agree that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be drafting Clemson quarterback Wunderkind prospect Trevor Lawrence. If the Jets are wise (hold for laughs) they would pick a guy like Sewell, or even Parsons, so let's assume this is the case.
Sewell or Parsons are no-brainer picks in my mind. Sewell could anchor a Miami line that still needs help, or Parsons could solidify a middle sector of a Brian Flores defense, that can use a middle linebacking star in the Nittany Lion. After this pick, Miami will be up later in the 1st round, with an as-of-the-moment 23rd pick before the dust settles up until, and through the playoffs.
Wherever they may end up, whether on the cusp of the post-season or even a mini-run, that next pick could fluctuate. Whatever the case, let's have some fun and get Smith as the Dolphins 2nd selection of the upcoming draft.
With a bonus two picks above the standard 7, as well as the fact the Dolphins will have to consider contract extensions for young players to keep them in South Florida, all 9 picks may not translate to roster solidified spots. This is the draft to get the premium talent, even if it costs previously gained capital in Day 2 or 3 picks to move up in the middle of the first round in this MOCK scenario.
In this Mock, here were the first two picks, leaving this Miami Mock GM ecstatic.
This is a "hand-the-ticket-in-right-away-pick." It's Sewell, and a generational offensive lineman will now help protect Tua and a growing and developing running attack...stay tuned.
With Ja'Marr Chase arguably the first receiver to be selected, following another quarterback for sure and positional players, it's picks 7 through 15 that is the "get-the-receiver" area for Miami. Lets see what happens through pick #7 here.
With the Giants, Panthers, Broncos, Cowboys, Chargers and Vikings picking before New England at #14 at the moment and then the Niners, more than half of these teams can argue picking a wide-out.
Here is how it played with the simulation:
It is noticed that the Niners do not have a 3rd round pick. Miami does however, following a double-dose of 2nd rounders, so if there is a path to leave the 1st with Sewell and Smith, and potentially re-gain picks with a Day 2 trade-back, here is what can be.
(Another trade to come)
Following the Mock Deal with SF, Miami gives up a 3rd to move up from #23 to #15 and get Tua his number 1 target for hopefully a decade. Miami also gets one of SF's three 5th round picks to re-enter that round in Day 3, again.
With Waddle on the board, Smith was still the pick, and logic is the injury mixed with the late-season performance and spike in stock of Smith thanks to that Rose Bowl.
Some may say giving up a 3rd is too much, but with another pair of 2nd-rounders on the way, there could be plenty of options to go with a best player of need, or even trade back to get back into the 3rd, a scenario that is part of this Mock Plan.
And we continue the 1st round and close it out:
Yes - there are some slam-the-fist-on-the-desk picks by others here, as Najee Harris and Chris Olave got their names called, both eyed as Day 2 potential selections in this plan. Nevertheless, with a stellar offensive lineman and major star play-maker in Smith, the Dolphins are in business, and may need to shift to defense now, or even a deal to gain more capital. And pending on what is left at their disposal, perhaps even another offensive lineman to make a young and ever improving line that much more potentially dominant.
Let's see how the board plays out as it leads in to their 35th overall pick with the best available remaining after 34 selections:
With Creed Humphrey on the board, this could be an outstanding interior lineman pick to build a 5-person future line of Sewell to add to the 2020 rookie trio of Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley. It's almost too good to pass up, and I am taking it.
No deal - it's pick time.
Humphrey is the pick that makes Tua have a 5-person line of guys in rookie or sophomore seasons heading into 2021 with a sky-is-the-limit future for them to gel as a unit. Sewell and Humphrey in one draft is a dream, and Tua is ear-to-ear smiling with a massive weapon to put in his arsenal....again.
Remaining Picks for Miami in this case:
With plenty of talent remaining, a finished offensive line and a shiny new toy for Tua, the front office is in near re-group mode. With position needs arguably at running back, and top-end players already selected, this can be re-visited. Perhaps another target? Same answer. Maybe a free agent was even brought in a month earlier.
How about a safety or a linebacker or an edge rusher? At pick #55 one could be had but can there be a chance another team wants one more? Of course.
Let's get back into the 3rd, while NOT leaving the 2nd.
Mission accomplished as KC called and really wanted to move up, so a deal was made. Miami moves back into the 3rd by picking up the 94th overall pick and moving back to pick #64, the 2nd rounds closing selection. Miami sends back a 5th too to even things out as KC asked for a sweetener.
KC got their guy in Jordan Davis and picks flew off the board that happened to not share space on my big-board at the moment, so a sigh of relief is airing in the war-room....virtually. With the 64th overall pick, the Dolphins 4th selection of the draft, we address the secondary. As loaded as it is, a safety of the future is needed to pair with Brandon Jones, as well as learn from Bobby McCain, and provide depth and insurance for Eric Rowe.
Flores loves a player he can mold and use in versatile ways and that is Jevon Holland of Oregon. Whether a safety, a nickel, or even a special team return-man, Holland is a perfect fit for this team with his skill-set.
Here are your first two rounds, with a trade-up in the 1st, and a trade-back in the 2nd.
Here is what is left in the stack of draft chips. (If you noticed - we have not lost a pick in net sense...still on pace to leave with 9.)
With a late 3rd rounder received back in the Chiefs trade, a running back was screaming to us in Chuba Hubbard out of Oklahoma. This model from the beginning made the peace with not being in the Etienne conversation, and Najee Harris was made a Buc at #26 and you can't blame them. As nice as a season Myles Gaskin is having, the Dolphins need a pure, lead runner and Hubbard is perfect with his ability to wait and time his cuts and when he hits the gaps and holes. Patience is key in all things, and Hubbard shows it.
Hubbard can look terrific in a backfield with Tua. Here is the Fab Five for Miami in the Top 100 picks through Day 2.
With the final four picks more-so than any of these a pure crap-shoot, here is how the rest of the way played out for this Mock Miami Dolphins Front Office:
With an edge-for-development a good idea to learn and rotate with Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson, Penn State defensive end Shaka Toney could be a solid protect for Flores at pick #124. He has great measurables, an outstanding athlete and a fine Day 3 pick for any young, top-tier defense.
With the 194th selection, Miami looks for more play-makers. With DeVonta Smith already in the can, a player who can play all over the field, a slot receiver now could be another solid addition to compete with Lynn Bowden, Jr.
How about Clemson's Amari Rodgers? A guy who can create separation and play inside the numbers, Rodgers could be a solid complementary chain-mover to add to DeVante Parker, a returning Preston Williams, and of course Smith. Rodgers is another versatile player that can even lineup in the backfield and play in creative sets.
With the 204th pick, the linebacking corp can use some depth, as the injured Elandon Roberts is a free agent in 2021, and more play-makers in the middle tier is never a bad thing for a defense. 6'6'' Kuony Deng is a linebacker who can play inside as he did at California or even get some outside work on the Edge. The Dolphins defense is similar in its hybrid style from Deng's college team, so he could be an intriguing player, much like the 6'4'' Andrew Van Ginkel...a late-round pick in 2019.
Lastly, an interior defensive lineman for depth especially with currently IR-ed and pending FA Davon Godchaux sidelined, could work with the last pick for Miami at #252. Robert Cooper is a Florida State plugger who specializes in stopping the running back. A guy who fits Flores' style and a high energy type player which sure-tackling ability makes it a perfect close of Day 3 and the Draft as a whole for this Mock scenario.
Here is the Haul of 9, but first, the trades:
We will be doing a lot more Draft coverage on www.PhinManiacs.com and we welcome comments and feedback in all writer mocks, which will be coming fast and furious as the regular season comes to a close this weekend!
Please follow all the @Phinmaniacs on Twitter and Jason can be found @OrangeAquaman