The Miami Dolphins didn’t know it at the time, but they secured the most valuable asset in franchise history when they drafted Laremy Tunsil back in 2016. Ironically, the 2021 NFL draft just got flipped upside down thanks in large part to his involvement in one of the most shocking moments in league history.
Laremy Tunsil took a surprising tumble during the 2016 NFL draft
Heading into the 2016 NFL draft, Laremy Tunsil looked poised to become a top-five pick. However, the Ole Miss product waited much longer to hear his name called.
And it had nothing to do with his ability to protect quarterbacks or open up lanes for running backs.
Right before the draft got underway, a video of Tunsil smoking from a gas mask equipped with a bong got posted to his official Twitter account. Although the post later got deleted, the incident left NFL teams scrambling to do their due diligence.
Instead of becoming the first offensive lineman off the board, Tunsil watched two tackles get taken before him. In what amounted to an incredibly expensive draft-day slide, the two-time All-SEC selection finally got picked 13th overall by the Dolphins.
Miami lucked out by landing an elite prospect at a discount price. But right before the 2019 season began, Tunsil got shipped to the Houston Texans for a huge haul. As it turns out, that transaction set the stage for the 2021 NFL draft to get flipped upside down.
The Dolphins just flipped the 2021 NFL draft upside down thanks to the infamous gas mask video
The Dolphins received the Texans’ 2020 first-round pick, plus 2021 first- and second-round selections in exchange for Laremy Tunsil.
On Friday, general manager Chris Grier utilized some of that haul to expand his war chest of draft capital. And thanks to that infamous gas mask video, the top of the 2021 NFL draft now looks completely different.
Miami traded Houston’s original pick (No. 3 overall) to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the No. 12 pick, first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, and a 2022 third-round pick.
But Grier didn’t stop there.
The Dolphins then traded the 12th pick, a 2021 fourth-rounder, and their own first-rounder in 2022 to the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 6 pick and a fifth-rounder.
By moving all the way up to No. 3, the 49ers undoubtedly will draft a quarterback. That could force other teams to adjust their draft plans and pivot in a new direction. After all, with the Atlanta Falcons right behind them, the possibility exists that four quarterbacks could be gone by the time the Cincinnati Bengals come on the clock at pick No. 5.
Ultimately, Tunsil’s draft-day slide put the Dolphins in a position to secure a valuable asset. And thanks to selling high on him back in 2019, they have essentially turned their original investment into four first-round picks and an additional third-rounder.
The future now looks even brighter for Miami
Dolphins fans should definitely feel optimistic about the future of the franchise. After all, their team now owns a sizable advantage over the rest of the league.
The 2021 NFL draft serves as the stepping stone for what should be a franchise-altering three-year stretch for Miami.
With multiple first- and second-round selections, the Dolphins can add instant-impact players to a roster that still needs more blue-chip talent. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them utilize the No. 6 pick on Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or DeVonta Smith. And at 18, they could give Tua Tagovailoa another weapon by taking Najee Harris.
Of course, the Dolphins could also make another trade to turn that pick into more selections.
Already armed with two first-rounders in 2023, perhaps Miami will look to add another first-rounder for 2022.
Either way, the team clearly has the flexibility to do just about anything it wants. Then again, possessing draft capital doesn’t guarantee future success.
Because if the Dolphins don’t turn their haul of picks into productive players, they will remain behind the truly elite teams in the AFC.