The Miami Dolphins have found a star in Oregon safety Jevon Holland with the 36th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was the first safety taken in the draft, and he showed flashes of being an All-Pro defensive back in just two seasons at Oregon.
Holland opted out of the 2020 season, but if it was possible to enter the draft after his sophomore year, he could have been a top-15 pick. He had a phenomenal freshman season, leading the team with five interceptions, and followed it up with an All-Pac-12 sophomore season (as voted on by the Associated Press and Pro Football Focus).
After being promoted to the starting nickel in 2019, Holland led the team in interceptions for the second consecutive season with four. He was the first Oregon player to lead the team in interceptions in back-to-back seasons since Jairus Byrd in 2006 and 2007.
Byrd was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection in his nine years in the NFL, and Holland has a great chance to have a similar career with the Dolphins when it’s all said and done.
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores and Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer both coached defensive backs with the New England Patriots, so Holland is in great hands. He is a perfect fit for the Fins' defense because he is one of the most versatile defensive backs in this draft class; he has the toughness and athleticism to play the nickel or free safety, as well as the speed and coverage skills to play as a slot corner.
The Coquitlam, Canada, native ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at his pro day, but his lateral quickness sets him apart from other safeties in the class.
Holland is the definition of a ball hawk. He has good vision to read the quarterback’s eyes and predict the routes of receivers, and he has the speed to keep up with receivers. He's also more than willing to lay out for tackles.
He played receiver in high school and recorded over 1,000 yards in his senior season at Bishop O’Dowd High School, and those skills have translated to the safety position, as he has a knack for getting to the football with his great hands and footwork. Holland even said that had he played at Oregon in 2020 he was going to play some wide receiver.
In terms of his fit with the Dolphins, Holland will likely be the No. 2 free safety behind Bobby McCain, who played in 16 games last season. The Dolphins definitely needed help at this position, as they gave up the most yards after catch per reception in the NFL last season (6.2 yards). Holland is a reliable tackler that will help the secondary contain explosive plays.
Even with those struggles, the Dolphins tied for the league lead in interceptions with 18, led by Xavien Howard’s 10 picks. The combo of Howard and Holland in the secondary will be terrifying for years to come.
Bigtime Prospect Emoni Bates Places Oregon in Top 8
The Ducks just offered the 2020 Gatorade National Player of the Year on Friday.
I think Holland could take over the Dolphins’ starting free safety spot in his rookie season, but early in the season, expect to see him the most on special teams. He excelled as a punt returner at Oregon, averaging 15.3 yards per return in his sophomore season.
No matter where he plays, Holland is going to prove why he was the first safety taken in the draft.
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