The Miami Dolphins have been one of the most talked-about teams this offseason. There is the talk about who will start at quarterback, sign a free agent running back or draft one, the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, and solidifying the offensive line. However, it seems the tight end position has not received much attention, but should it? The answer is yes.
Miami ran 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends) on 28% of their snaps in 2020 (according to Sharpfootballstats.com). Only four NFL teams ran 12 personnel more last season (Arizona, LA Rams, Philadelphia, and Tennessee). Why is this important? Head coach Brian Flores has taken some notes from his days on the New England Patriots staff, where Bill Belichick and company changed the game with a dominating 2-tight end offense. (Ironically enough, the Patriots ran a league-low 2% of 12 personnel this season and only ran 36 total snaps the entire season with 2+ tight ends (via Warren Sharp).
Having two solid tight ends can do wonders for an offense, and teams like the Buccaneers and Eagles have won Super Bowls recently incorporating two tight ends. And had OJ Howard not tore his Achilles tendon, I think Tampa Bay would’ve been in even more 12 personnel. The Kansas City Chiefs also ran tons of 12 personnel in 2019, but their No. 2 Blake Bell was a non-factor outside of blocking.
What does this mean for Miami? It means they should target a tight end early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In my opinion, Kyle Pitts is in his own tier this year and is the best tight end prospect to ever enter the NFL. The Dolphins would likely have to take him within the first 15 picks of the draft to get him. I think Pitts has a chance to go as high as No. 3 to the Dolphins, and I don’t see him dropping past the Patriots at Pick 15. Pitts is going to be a star in the NFL. If you draft Pitts, he instantly becomes your No. 1 tight end. Starting tight end Mike Gesicki becomes your No. 2 tight end, and you are set at the position for a long time.
The next tier features two excellent tight ends. No. 2 for me is Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth. The former Nittany Lion has the nickname baby Gronk for a reason. Pairing Gesicki, also a former PSU tight end, with Freiermuth would give the Dolphins two reliable options. Freiermuth will likely be there for the Dolphins in the 2nd round.
Another 2nd round option would be former Miami tight end Brevin Jordan. The former Hurricane could stay in Miami and give the Dolphins another dynamic weapon at tight end.
The 3rd tier features two solid tight ends that will likely never be your No. 1 tight end, but they can easily plug in nicely next to Gesicki for years to come. Boston College’s Hunter Long and Tommy Tremble from Notre Dame. Both players should fit nicely as 3rd round picks, but I think Long has the most upside for the Dolphins. Boston College utilized Long a ton as a pass catcher, and he seems ready to fit into today’s NFL as a No. 2 tight end right away.
Pitts would be the prize from the 2021 NFL Draft, but it seems unlikely the Dolphins use the first of their two 1st round picks on him. If the Dolphins traded up from Pick 18 and into the 9-12 range, they might be able to get him. I would think it was a great move, but again, that seems very unlikely.
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Freiermuth seems like the most realistic and best fit for the Dolphins. The thought of Gesicki paired with Freiermuth gets me excited, and the Dolphins would be able to really open up their offense with two tight ends on the field.
Jordan flashed some greatness at Miami, and he would be an excellent third option if the Dolphins aren’t able to get the top 2 guys. Jordan has a chance to have a very successful and productive NFL career.
The top three tight ends would all be upgrades for the Dolphins. I am a firm believer in having two tight ends on the field as much as possible. If the Dolphins want to take their offense to the next level in 2021, taking a tight end early would be wise.