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Dolphins 2021 Draft Revisited ... With 20/20 Hindsight

The Miami Dolphins made some bold moves during the 2021 draft and they affected their drafts for this year and next as well

As all Miami Dolphins fans know by now, the team doesn't have a first- or second-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, as a result of the trade that brought Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, it's a little more than that.

It's actually also as a result of the trades the Dolphins made involving 2021 draft picks.

You remember those trades, right? The back-to-back deals with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles that saw the Dolphins go from 3 to 12 to 6 in the first round.

Taken as a whole, those moves worked out great for the Dolphins because they still were able to get wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with that sixth pick, along with picking up an extra first-round pick in 2023.

And considering that Waddle was team MVP as a rookie last season, well, it's hard to call the double moves anything but a smashing success.

But had they stopped after the first trade, the Dolphins still would have had the extra pick in 2023 and they'd still have a first-round pick this year — even after trading for Hill.

That pick would be the 15th overall as a result of the Dolphins' 9-8 finish in 2021.

Of course, under that scenario, the Dolphins likely wouldn't have been able to get Waddle because he probably would have been picked before 12 — maybe by the Eagles at 6 had they not moved down.

What if the Dolphins Didn't Get Waddle?

The good news with Waddle is that he looks like he's going to be a star for a long time in the NFL after he set a rookie record in 2021 with 104 catches.

The bad news is that Waddle averaged less than 10 yards per reception and all his catches didn't do much to make the offense very productive.

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So if not Waddle, then who could the Dolphins have had at 12 last year?

If we're looking strictly at the way the draft played out, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons and Pro Bowl tackle Rashawn Slater would have been there for the taking — and how great would it be for the Dolphins to have either on the team right now!

Or maybe if the Eagles had hung on to the sixth pick in 2021 and taken Waddle, then DeVonta Smith maybe would have been available at number 12 — the Eagles traded up from 12 to 10 to get him — and he would have ended up as the Dolphins' first-round pick.

And, based on what we saw last year, that also would have worked out perfectly fine for the Dolphins.

"The Eagles head into the 2022 NFL draft confident they have found their No. 1 receiver after a season in which DeVonta Smith set the franchise record for most receiving yards for a rookie," Eagles Today publisher Ed Kracz wrote. "The record had stood for 13 seasons and was set by DeSean Jackson in 2008 with 912. Smith finished with 916. Granted, he had an extra game, but Smith did it on 64 catches, just two more than Jackson needed. There’s little doubt Smith could’ve had a higher total in both categories except the Eagles’ running game was the best in the NFL, so his opportunities weren’t as plentiful. The Eagles ran the ball 30.5 times per game.

"Going forward, however, Smith has the ability to be a high-volume pass catcher and a 1,000-yard receiver should the offense evolve more fully in his direction."

So, yeah, Parsons, Slater or Smith would have worked out just fine for Miami.

And, of course, the Dolphins still would have the 15th pick in the draft this year.

What Would the Dolphins in the First Round?

As we see mock drafts pop up this week, the Dolphins aren't mentioned when it comes to the first round, but what if they were involved in those mocks at number 15 in the first round?

Who could we see mocked to them?

Maybe it would be a cornerback like Trent McDuffie from the University of Washington, or perhaps big defensive tackle Jordan Davis from the University of Georgia. Or maybe Florida State edge defender Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State.

Or — and how's this for irony — how about wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama, the same kind of explosive athlete as Waddle, though he is coming off a torn ACL.

As with everything related to the draft, we won't know for sure exactly how things will pan out from both the 2021 and 2022 drafts, but it's always interesting to look at all the possibilities of what might have been after what was.