Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, the plan for the Miami Dolphins to improve this offseason should be pretty straightforward: Do whatever it takes to surround your 23-year-old quarterback with the necessary weapons to succeed.
However, the decision on who the Dolphins ultimately draft lies in the hands of general manager Chris Grier, and to a lesser extent, head coach Brian Flores. That is, unless you’re referring to SB Nation’s annual NFL writers’ mock draft. In which case, The Phinsider’s site manager Kevin Nogle will be putting on his GM cap and making the Dolphins first-round selections.
The best part of all is I get to go through and critique each pick.
So without further ado...
With the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select...
Tight End Offensive Weapon, Florida
Weight: 245 pounds
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa
2020 Stats: 43 receptions, 770 yards, 12 touchdowns.
This board fell almost perfectly for Miami. After trading back from the third spot to the sixth spot (via the 12th pick), Miami essentially has the entire non-quarterback board still available. Honestly, they could look to trade back again here, trying to entice the Denver Broncos to get in front of the Carolina Panthers with Mac Jones still available.
Miami is looking for offensive skill players all the way here. Penei Sewell is a consideration because he is such a talent, but the Dolphins need to build the weaponry around Tua Tagovailoa. If they stay at the sixth position, the pick likely comes down to an either/or between wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and tight end Kyle Pitts. Given Chase came off the board one pick before Miami, it makes this pick fairly simple.
The Dolphins are built to create and exploit mismatches, both on offense and defense. The nebulous defense where the entire front seven is moving around within a couple of yards of the line of scrimmage worked well last year. Now the Dolphins will be looking to do something similar on offense, where players can line up in different roles, so substitutions are not made, but the entire look of the offense changes. Brian Flores had a front-row view to the success the New England Patriots have had with the versatile, two tight end offense, so pairing Pitts with Mike Gesicki should be a perfect fit in Miami. Both tight ends can line up tight on the line, or spread out as a receiver. This is a home run pick for the Dolphins, who still have another first-round pick to go this year.
With Ja’Marr Chase headed to Cincinnati, Kevin has an important decision to make at No. 6 overall. Do you draft an offensive lineman like Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater, solidifying the offensive line for years to come? Or do you target a premier pass-catcher like Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or Florida’s Kyle Pitts?
The answer may not be as cut and dry as we think.
For weeks, I admittedly thought the Dolphins’ primary target was DeVonta Smith. (I still wouldn’t be surprised if that were the direction the team goes, regardless of how the board falls.) But after going back and re-watching Kyle Pitts dominate whoever lined up opposite of him, I can’t bring myself to pass on a player of his caliber. Pitts is who the Miami Dolphins need. He is who Tua Tagovailoa needs. This is the way!
KYLE PITTS IS MORE THAN A TE!— Anthony DiBona (@ByADiBona) February 26, 2021
Pitts is an absolute freak that can beat CBs on the outside as well. Just look at what he did against some of the top CB prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft:
✅ Patrick Surtain II
✅ Jaycee Horn
✅ Kelvin Joseph
✅ Tyson Campbell
Do it, @Eagles! pic.twitter.com/5ogvoBKPJH
Pitts can do it all. He can line up with his hand in the dirt and play like a traditional tight end. Or flex out wide (and in the slot), dominating some of the top defenders in the nation. In other words, he’s the ultimate offensive weapon. ‘a sWiSs ArMy kNiFe’. And let’s not act like we all didn’t see his pro day.
Pairing Kyle Pitts alongside Mike Gesicki will give everyone New England vibes, but it’s so much more than that. It’s brilliant football and would cause nightmares for opposing defenses. Sprinkle in DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson, Lynn Bowden Jr., Jakeem Grant, and the rest of Miami’s crowded receiving corps—and I think fans (and Tua Tagovailoa) will have reason to be excited.
(whispers: Kyle Pitts is also a capable blocker despite what I’ve read on Twitter dot com)
Last season, Miami’s offense ranked 18th in red-zone efficiency finishing the season with 58.3%. I’m no mathematician, but adding a guy like Kyle Pitts single-handedly improves this number.
Here’s what Pro Football Focus had to say about the #elite red-zone target.
+ HE’S A RED-ZONE CHEAT CODE
Florida split Pitts out wide down by the goal line, and you can’t cover both the slant and the fade — you need to cheat to prevent him from winning on either of them. If you gave him an option route based on the leverage of the guy trying to cover him one-on-one, you’ve got an instant touchdown basically every time.
As I’ve said before, I don’t envy
Chris Grier Kevin Nogle if this is the way the board ultimately fell. And I think in the real world, teams may come calling for a quarterback if it were to hold true.
Could the Dolphins trade down and acquire more ammunition?
Never say never. But in this mock draft, Kevin’s pick could not have been better.
Kyle Pitts is a home-run pick, and might just be the mind stone Tua Tagovailoa needed to complete the infinity gauntlet—taking the Miami Dolphins offense to new heights.
He may not have planned to stay in Florida after school, but if Chris Grier and the Dolphins were wise, Pitts wouldn’t have much say in the matter.
Kyle Pitts, No Matter What.
Top five remaining players
- Penei Sewell
- DeVonta Smith
- Jaylen Waddle
- Micah Parsons
- Patrick Surtain Jr.