As a unit, the interior of the Miami Dolphins’ defensive line was serviceable, but not spectacular. Against the run, which is where a lot of interior defensive production is judged, the Dolphins were league average in several categories.
They finished 17th in total rushing yards conceded, 15th in rushing touchdowns allowed, and 15th in yards per carry given up. Against their fellow AFC East foes, who currently do not feature elite running backs, Miami’s attack up front is fine. But if they want to take their team to the next level, they’ll need to find a stalwart to occupy blockers in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Miami’s management has had a tendency to bring in a few former New England Patriots who have experience with Dolphins head coach Brian Flores from Foxboro.
Miami brought in another former Patriots player last month in Adam Butler to help bolster the middle of their defensive line. Butler is a four-year pro who has spent the entirety of his career in New England. His signing, however, won’t stop Miami from trying to upgrade its position.
Let’s take a closer look at some interior defensive linemen that could join the Miami Dolphins next season via the draft.
Christian Barmore can join Miami
In what might be an unusual twist, the 2021 NFL Draft may not see a defensive tackle get selected in the first round. This means that the conversation for the Dolphins with regards to this position really begins in the second round, where they own the 36th and 50th overall selections.
Miami is certainly no stranger to drafting prospects from the University of Alabama, and DT Christian Barmore is one of the best options in his position in this class.
Barmore is huge, weighs 310 pounds, and stands at 6’5” tall. He’ll at least be as heavy and likely taller than the players he does battle with on the offensive line.
There’s a world in which Barmore not only becomes a great player stopping the run, but also develops a sixth sense for knocking down passes. He’s a very attractive option for the Dolphins to consider.
Daviyon Nixon is a good option for Miami
The University of Iowa has an intriguing defensive tackle prospect who really came into his own in the 2020 season. Daviyon Nixon played 5 fewer games in 2020 than he did in 2019, but was much more productive this past campaign. He had 5.5 sacks, totaled 13.5 tackles for losses, and even picked off a pass and took it 71 yards for a touchdown.
Also check out: Complete 2019 NFL Draft Results
The fact that a 305 pound lineman can take a pass that far for a score speaks to the kind of athleticism Nixon brings to the table. According to his NFL.com scouting report, Nixon has a knack for squeezing through small openings to get into the backfield and disrupt plays.
He’ll have to work on his physical strength at the point of attack though, otherwise he could find himself pushed back by centers and guards.
Levi Onwuzurike is also an option for Miami
The Dolphins could also take a look at Levi Onwuzurike from the University of Washington during the 2021 NFL Draft. Onwuzurike comes in as less of an exciting option than Nixon or Barrimore, but has had a lot of experience, despite opting out of the Huskies’ 2020 season.
He got considerable playing time as a freshman, and continued to soak up snaps as a sophomore and junior.
One question about Onwuzurike was his ability to sustain impressive play from game to game. He had some nice moments on tape, but often didn’t make as much of an impact as evaluators would have hoped.
Whether he lands with the Dolphins or somewhere else in the draft, Onwuzurike will have to learn how to bring the intensity consistently.
Also Read: Complete 2020 NFL Draft Results