In the windup to the 2021 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier took time to address the media. A conversation that many expected to be exclusively about draft picks and free agency started off, however, with Grier’s prepared statement about the verdict in the (in)famous trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes.
“For me, as an African-American, there was a sense of relief and sadness,” Grier, who is one of only five Black GMs in the NFL, said. “It’s 2021 and yet people of color are still asking for equality and justice… The justice system worked for people of color yesterday. However, we cannot forget that a life was lost.”
He went on to note the work that the Miami Dolphins organization has done in the South Florida community, specifically mentioning owner Stephen Ross, head coach Brian Flores (who is also Black), Dolphins CEO and President Tom Garfinkel, and Dolphins’ players as a whole.
“We have the opportunity to make things better for everyone in our country,” Grier said. “It’s encouraging to hear the number of white people in big companies willing to be uncomfortable and speak out against systematic racism. There are a lot of good law enforcement officials who want change for the better…. We need to support them as well.”
Grier also mentioned the recent attacks against Asia-Americans and Pacific Islanders in his speech, before the talk moved to the draft.
The GM didn’t hand out many interesting tidbits but did say that the ‘Fins would be willing to move out of the No. 6 spot if an “aggressive pitch” was offered to them. The Dolphins originally owned the No. 3 pick in the draft but dropped three places after two blockbuster deals with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles that garnered them significant draft capital for years to come. Grier expressed “zero regret” about these trades, seemingly sure that whoever the Dolphins want at three will still be available at six.
“We’re not afraid to make picks,” he said. “We have great confidence that this coaching staff has shown that they can develop players and get the best out of them.”
He also added that the team will not be holding opt-outs against those college players who chose not to play in the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns.
Most analysts and fans seem to agree that Grier and co. will be using their No. 6 pick on Alabama receiver Devonta Smith, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, any of whom would provide sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with a much-needed offensive weapon. Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell has also been connected with the Dolphins.
The 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland will be televised on ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network beginning with the first round on Thursday, April 29th at 8pm.