Dolphins 2021 Week 3 Snap Counts ... And What They Mean

Rookie first-round picks Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips earn prominent roles against the Raiders
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Rookie first-round pick Jaylen Waddle played a prominent role in the Miami Dolphins game at Las Vegas on Sunday, and it spilled  over to the playing time on offense.

Waddle ended up playing 73 of the team's 83 snaps on offense, the highest number for any player outside of QB Jacoby Brissett and the five offensive linemen, who all played every snap.

Waddle, who had 12 catches for 58 yards, played nine more snaps than DeVante Parker.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised given the emphasis on the short passing game the Dolphins seemed to have against the Raiders and also the fact he was the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Also at wide receiver, Will Fuller got a pretty good work load in his Miami Dolphins debut with 51 snaps (61 percent of the offensive snaps).

The one wide receiver who didn't get a lot of action of offense was Jakeem Grant, who got only two snaps, 22 fewer than Mack Hollins.

This was a logical move because Hollins was so impressive in camp and deserves more opportunities on offense.

Other pertinent snap count observations:

-- What happened to Salvon Ahmed? Even though he might be the most explosive running back on the roster, he got only five offensive snaps against the Raiders, while Myles Gaskin had 43 and Malcolm Brown had 34. Seems Ahmed should be more involved in the game plan.

-- At tight end, Mike Gesicki led the way with 55 snaps, and he's clearly the best receiving tight end on the team and it should be reflected in the playing time unless the game plan is heavily focused on the running game.

-- The Dolphins had five tight ends active against the Raiders, but Hunter Long got only two snaps on offense (none on special teams) and Cethan Carter got none (20 on special teams). This, of course, could raise the question as to why the Dolphins drafted Long in the third round this year, though a big factor was looking ahead beyond this season no doubt.

-- Carter was one of three non-specialists who didn't play a single snap on offense or defense, along with guard Solomon Kindley and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. This fell in line with what we suggested when the inactives were announced, that even though he would be in uniform for the first time this season Igbinoghene wasn't likely to see action on defense. It's a small step forward for the 2020 first-round pick, though it's still disappointing to see such limited contributions in his second NFL season.

-- On the topic of first-round picks, Jaelan Phillips got by far his most extensive action so far in his rookie season, playing 49 of the team's 83 snaps on defense (each team had 83 offensive snaps). Phillips had played 40 snaps combined in the first two games, so this clearly was an encouraging sign even though Phillips still didn't make much of an impact in the game.

-- One other thing that stood out on defense is the snap count was back up again for safety Eric Rowe, who played 65 snaps after playing 65 in the opener at New England but only 26 against Buffalo. As Brian Flores explained last week, this is all about matchups and there's no guarantee Rowe's play count will be up again in Week 4.

-- It was a similar situation for cornerback Nik Needham, who played 57 snaps on defense after playing only two against Buffalo. Needham had a good outing against the Raiders, while fellow cornerback Justin Coleman struggled and it says here Needham needs to consistently have the third-most snaps among the cornerbacks behind Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

-- Finally, there's Andrew Van Ginkel, who had a two-sack game against the Raiders last December, but saw his playing time dwindle in this matchup. He didn't start for the first time this season — Phillips, Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts started as the Dolphins opened in a 3-3-5 alignment — and got a season-low 34 snaps. Van Ginkel played only 41 percent of the defensive snaps, compared to 71 percent in each of the first two games. This might have been related to the game plan or the fact that Van Ginkel hasn't been quite as disruptive a force on defense so far this season as he was in 2020.