Why Do the Miami Dolphins Have the 6th Overall Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft When They Went 10-6 in 2020?

While there are many up-and-coming teams in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins might have the most potential to grow out of all of them. The Dolphins only barely missed the playoffs in 2020 in a tough AFC, but still went 10-6 after going 5-11 in 2019 and not recording a winning record since 2016. So, since the Dolphins actually had a successful season in 2020, one would think they would be picking later in the 2021 NFL draft. However, Miami has the No. 6 overall pick.

So, why do the Dolphins have that sixth pick?

The Miami Dolphins found success in 2020

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The Miami Dolphins were one of the nicest surprises in 2020. Despite not having a ton of consistency at quarterback, Miami still managed to go 10-6 and only barely missed the playoffs.

Offensively, the Dolphins did just enough to win games. 2020 fifth overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, showed that he still has the potential to be a successful quarterback, but just didn’t fully live up to all the hype yet. He started in nine games and threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Longtime NFL veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick started in the other seven games, and he also played well at times. Fitzpatrick threw for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

The Dolphins, though, really excelled defensively. Miami only allowed 21.1 points per game in 2020 as cornerback Xavien Howard led them on that side of the ball with 51 total tackles and 10 interceptions, earning himself Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors.

Guys like Howard and Tagovailoa can ultimately be a part of the Dolphins’ strong core for years to come. However, Miami now has the opportunity to significantly upgrade that core.

Why do the Miami Dolphins have the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL draft?

The Miami Dolphins, who have the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
The Miami Dolphins’ logo on the video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26, 2018. | Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Not many teams go 10-6 the year before picking sixth in the draft. So, the Dolphins are in an incredible position.

Why do they have the sixth pick, though? Their road to get here was long, but here’s the breakdown.

Prior to the 2019 NFL season, Miami sent Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, a fourth-round pick in 2020, and a sixth-round selection in 2021 to the Houston Texans for their 2020 and 2021 first-round picks, a 2021 second-round selection, Johnson Bademosi, and Julien Davenport. The Texans then had an atrocious season in 2020, which led to the 2021 first-round pick the Dolphins received becoming the No. 3 overall pick.

Wait, the third pick? But Miami is picking sixth? 

We’re not done yet.

In March, per CBS Sports, the Dolphins traded the third pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 12th pick, a 2022 first-rounder, a 2022 third-rounder, and a 2023 first-round draft pick. Miami then traded the 12th pick, a 2021 fourth-round pick, and their 2022 first-round selection to the Philadelphia Eagles for the sixth pick in the 2021 draft.

So, that’s where they are now. Also, unrelated, but the Dolphins additionally have the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, meaning they have two first-round selections in 2021.

It ultimately took a lot for the Dolphins to get to the sixth pick, but, essentially, the Tunsil trade helped set Miami up for years to come.

Who will Miami select with the sixth pick?

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Now that we know how the Dolphins got the sixth pick, who will they select with it?

Miami needs help offensively. The Dolphins didn’t have one player who gained over 590 rushing yards in 2020. They also didn’t have one who gained over 795 receiving yards.

Because of this, many mock drafts have the Dolphins grabbing a wide receiver like Ja’Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith. Some mock drafts, though, even have the Dolphins trading their sixth pick to the Broncos for the ninth pick, but still selecting a receiver there as well. Others, however, think the Dolphins could choose an offensive lineman with their first selection.

Either way, it appears most experts think the Dolphins will use their first pick to upgrade offensively. It’ll be interesting to see which way they go.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference