The Miami Dolphins are off this weekend, preparing for the first game of the Tua Tagovailoa era in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams. With the team not having to take the field and compete, this serves as a great opportunity to check out some of the would-be NFL Draft talent eligible for the 2021 class. And, conveniently enough the Big Ten is returning to action this weekend, meaning the NFL’s second-best pipeline conference is back in action.
Who should Miami be keeping a close eye on? Here are five talents playing this weekend that could be possible top-100 selections in next year’s draft.
Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson pursues on defense against Ohio State, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
DL Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan Wolverines
The Dolphins would likely love Hutchinson’s versatility as an inside/outside threat on the defensive line. Miami successfully pegged one in Emmanuel Ogbah in free agency this offseason and signed yet another in Shaq Lawson — who is starting to show signs of life himself in recent weeks despite a shoulder injury. More depth and versatility on defense is likely to always move the needle for this regime and Hutchinson gets a big test this weekend against Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele, a 400-pound behemoth.
Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (17) catches a pass for a touchdown against Clemson Tigers safety Nolan Turner (24) during the fourth quarter in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
WR Chris Olave, Ohio State Buckeyes
We’ve all heard about Tua Tagovailoa’s former teammate, Devonta Smith, as a potential Dolphins target. But if Smith goes off the board before Miami wants to target him, Olave is a strong backup plan. He features many of the same traits and hails from yet another spread offense attack that would translate well to Miami. Olave is a crisp route runner and offers quickness that most of Miami’s receivers currently lack.
Jan 1, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) runs with the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
RB Mohamad Ibrahim, Minnesota Gophers
The Dolphins’ running game will need continued tweaking. The improvement is notable but the extra growth required is still undeniable. The Jordan Howard signing is looking like a bust through the first six weeks of the season — as evidenced by the team’s pursuit of Le’Veon Bell. Ibrahim will face a fierce Michigan front seven this weekend and offers the kind of power and fluidity that Miami was hoping they’d get in Howard. This is a great showcase game for an under the radar back.
Badgers inside linebacker Jack Sanborn celebrates a tackle during the first half against Michigan.
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LB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin Badgers
The Dolphins already have a couple of Wisconsin linebackers on the roster between Vince Biegel and Andrew Van Ginkel — but Sanborn is a different kind of player. He isn’t an edge rusher or pass rusher but instead plays the inside linebacker role that Miami vacated this summer with the trade of LB Raekwon McMillan. If the Dolphins are looking for a replacement player that they can peg down in the second day of the 2021 Draft, Sanborn is a strong candidate. He and the rest of Wisconsin open Big Ten play on Friday night.
Sep 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back Paris Ford (12) and defensive lineman Calijah Kancey (8) tackle Syracuse Orange running back Jawhar Jordan (25) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Panthers won 21-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
SAF Paris Ford, Pittsburgh Panthers
Ford isn’t a Big Ten prospect, but he’s facing a big test this week against a top-5 ranked Notre Dame team. The Irish are physical and can run the football against just about anyone, so Ford’s hitting prowess and run fits will be on display in this game. He’ll need a big game if Pitt is going to be up to the task of upsetting the Irish, so look for this performance to be a potential “resume game” for Ford. If he flounders, however, it will be tough to bounce back.