Dolphins could still be in play for a linebacker in 2021 NFL draft after addressing position during free agency

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Safid Deen, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read
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One position group that saw the most turnover for the Miami Dolphins this offseason was the linebackers, which welcomed three new players and saw the re-signing of two players.

The commitment to addressing the position ahead of the 2021 NFL draft could signal two things:

— The Dolphins might be okay if they do not use one of their four top-50 draft picks on a linebacker;

— Even if a pick is made early or later on in the draft on a linebacker, the Dolphins would prefer to have some experienced players in the heart of the defense that could help a rookie along.

Penn State’s Micah Parsons and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are the types of players Dolphins coach Brian Flores would likely be enamored with having on his defense due to their tenacity and ability to play in several areas on the field.

Tulsa’s Zaven Collins could also be a first-round pick like Parsons and Owusu-Koramoah, while others like LSU’s Jabril Cox, Missouri’s Nick Bolton, Alabama’s Dylan Moses, North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt and Ohio State’s Baron Browning could be impactful draft picks on Day 2 and 3.

The Dolphins own the picks Nos. 6 and 18 in the first round where positions like tight end or receiver and running back could be addressed, with defensive end or edge rusher also a possibility.

The Dolphins view defensive ends and outside linebackers as edge rushers, while inside linebackers hold their traditional definition in their defense.

Dolphins inside linebacker Jerome Baker, Miami’s third-round pick in 2018, remains the featured defender among the group.

Baker, who has 11.5 career sacks and led the Dolphins in total tackles in each of the past two seasons, could be in line for a contract extension before playing the final year of his rookie contract in 2021.

The Dolphins’ signing of former Pro Bowler Benardrick McKinney, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans for former defensive end Shaq Lawson, could also work in Baker’s benefit allowing him to blitz more while McKinney remains in coverage.

McKinney, a second-round pick by the Texans in 2015, comes to Miami after three seasons with 100 tackles and a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018.

Miami also signed former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Duke Riley, who will likely replace Kamu Grugier-Hill as an athletic backup off the bench.

And Miami re-signed inside linebacker Elandon Roberts, who suffered a significant knee injury in the second-to-last game last season, and outside linebacker Vince Biegel, who has recovered from a partial Achilles tendon tear.

The Dolphins also signed former Texans outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett, who will play alongside defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel and Biegel to fill in for Lawson and Kyle Van Noy on the edge.

Sam Eguavoen and Calvin Munson remain on the Dolphins roster, and could provide depth at inside linebacker and on special teams.