A little more than three weeks away from the 2021 NFL draft, we are now at the stage where new mock drafts are popping up every day.
One of the latest offerings came from former Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum for ESPN.
For the Dolphins at number 6, Tannenbaum picked LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and then had them taking USC guard/tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker at number 18.
In Tannenbaum's mock, Chase was selected after the first four picks were quarterbacks and Cincinnati took tackle Penei Sewell at number 5.
"Look, the Dolphins aren't — and shouldn't be — moving on from QB Tua Tagovailoa," Tannenbaum wrote. "He was a top-five pick last year, and they still need to surround him with talent. Let's do just that. Chase is a special player who would provide a spark on offense. I also thought about offensive line, as a stronger unit would allow Tagovailoa to climb the pocket and make better throws."
And this is what Tannenbaum said about Vera-Tucker, who was his fourth offensive lineman off the board after Sewell, Christian Darrisaw and Rashawn Slater:
"Maybe Zaven Collins (Tulsa) to replace Kyle Van Noy? Maybe Najee Harris (Alabama) to give the Dolphins an elite run game? Both are options, but I just don't see Ereck Flowers as a long-term solution on the interior of the line, and Tua Tagovailoa needs better protection to find some Year 2 success. And remember, Miami took a first-round lineman out of USC just one year ago, in this very same No. 18 slot (Austin Jackson)."
The pick of Chase certainly follows along with the reporting that's been out there suggesting the Dolphins want to land a playmaker for the passing game, whether it be Chase, tight end Kyle Pitts or fellow wide receivers DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.
But Tannenbaum picking Vera-Tucker at 18 is exactly why it would be foolish to dismiss Sewell as a possibility at 6 if he's still available.
As was pointed out, yes, the Dolphins took Jackson 18th overall last year and they took Robert Hunt in the second round and both of them combined for 23 starts (12 for Jackson, 11 for Hunt) at tackle.
If the debate is between a top tight, wide receiver or offensive line, it says here the Dolphins have more established players at the first two than on the O-line.
And it's not even close.
Sure, Jackson and Hunt were rookies last year and they could develop into great NFL players, but there's no guarantee. Oh, and another point to make here, the Dolphins have uncertainty at guard and many draft analysts projected Hunt at that position in the NFL, not tackle.
So it's not like it would be overkill to take Sewell at 6 and move Hunt to guard.
In the end, it's going to come down to what player the Dolphins believes has the best NFL future, and from this vantage point it still says that player is Pitts. The other two, though, are pretty close.
So forgive us if we're not buying the notion that it's a slam dunk the Dolphins will take a wide receiver with their first pick if they don't take Pitts.