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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
The Miami Dolphins need a quarterback. They currently have young projects in Luke Falk and Jake Rudock on the roster. They will free up either $13 million or $18 million (post June 1 designation) when they part ways with Ryan Tannehill. Something will be done this offseason, but will the move be to acquire the next guy who offers us hope?
A rebuild is coming and it could be ugly in the short term. On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Dolphins will be looking to the 2020 crop of quarterbacks in the draft. It seems a bit odd that a team would announce this before completely evaluating who will be available this offseason. A tweet from Dolphin analyst Chris Kouffman also raised my eyebrows. He mentioned that Miami conducted rebuilds in 2005 and 2008, and in both instances they decided to build a TEAM first and then go after a quarterback. He notes that they passed on Aaron Rodgers for Ronnie Brown and Matt Ryan for Jake Long. In the latter situation we now know the plan was to take Joe Flacco but Baltimore beat them to the punch so they settled for Chad Henne.
To add to Schefter's report, the hype surrounding the 2020 list of quarterbacks could be larger than the 2018 class and the 2012 class before that. In both cases you saw four quarterbacks taken in the first round but in neither year were all four players anointed before the first snap of their final college season. 2012 saw the rise of Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden from mid round afterthoughts to big time prospects. In 2017, not a single analyst was pegging Baker Mayfield as an upper first round pick, let alone first overall. Now we have all eyes on April 2020 when Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm and Justin Herbert will presumably enter the draft. Add Jacob Eason, Jordan Love, Nate Stanley and Jake Brentley as players who have the ability to vault themselves into the conversation.
But is the waiting game the correct approach? The 2017 quarterback class was considered okay at best. Mitch Trubisky came out of nowhere, Patrick Mahomes was a talented yet wild project, and Deshaun Watson went from media darling to "does he have the size and arm to survive in the NFL?". All three quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs this year and appear to have nice careers ahead of them. Do you think Chicago, Houston and Kansas City regret not waiting until 2018? In the past we've heard about Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota being can't miss picks. None have been to a Conference Championship game let alone a Super Bowl. Meanwhile third round guys Russell Wilson and Nick Foles, both from the 2012 draft, are Super Bowl Champions. So do you wait for the hype or target a guy you think has that IT factor to lead you?
Speaking of Nick Foles, he was one dropped pass away from heading to another Conference Championship. He was driving his team toward a 4th quarter comeback, on the road, and against the top seeded Saints. For two years in a row he has shown clutch play in the brightest of spotlights. It is possible he'll be a free agent or available in a trade. He turns 30 years old heading into next season and as the Sun Sentinel's Dave Hyde notes, a quarterback can play another decade in today's protect the QB NFL. Would you pass on a chance to sign him or maybe trade for him just because you'd rather wait to see if a 2020 rookie may be awesome?
The 2019 Draft will feature three quarterbacks with skill sets that NFL teams covet. Dwayne Haskins is a prototypical pocket passer with a great ability to read the field. The knock on him is he only started for one season and struggled under pressure. Kyler Murray came out of nowhere to win the Heisman Trophy and has analysts seeing him as another Baker Mayfield type prospect. The problem is his 5'9"/190 lb stature isn't exactly ideal for the NFL. Drew Lock has the best pure arm talent I have seen since Matthew Stafford was drafted in 2009. There is not a throw he cannot hit, but, he is a system quarterback who struggled mightily against good competition.
I don't know the answer to solving Miami's quarterback riddle, but I'm darn certain there is not a wrong way to approach it. I can't argue against "Tank for Tua" or "Bomb for Fromm" as both seem to be legit franchise types. Then again, so did Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. I'd bet dollars to donuts most of you would rather have Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield. In 2006 the San Diego Chargers opted to keep Philip Rivers and let Drew Brees walk in free agency. Brees has already won a Super Bowl and just put together another MVP caliber season. Rivers is no slouch, but he has choked in the playoffs repeatedly and proven to be inferior to Brees. Will the Eagles stick with their younger quarterback, Carson Wentz, or hang on to Nick Foles and continue riding his success? What if Wentz, a proven commodity, hits the trade market?
Maybe Kyler Murray is the next Russell Wilson. Maybe Drew Lock is the next Derek Carr (an MVP candidate at one point). Maybe Nick Foles can be the Drew Brees that Miami passed on in favor of the more dynamic Daunte Culpepper. Anything is possible and my hope is that this little write up encourages everyone to keep an open mind. Miami needs a quarterback and there are plenty of options. Tanking for Tua is an option, not THE option. Miami cannot pass on the chance for a signal caller because "maybe" Tagovailoa, Fromm or Herbert offer more sizzle. Let's hope the decision makers feel the same way.
The dark ages of the Tannebaum era are now officially over, but not without consequence. For the next two seasons the Dolphins will be dealing with either dead cap or overpaid players taking up cap. That does not mean the Dolphins can’t be competitive the next two seasons, but by 2021 they should be in playoff contention. Here’s why.
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, Davon Godchaux, Laremy Tunsil, Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, Cordrea Tankersley, Charles Harris, and Kalen Ballage, give the Phins something to build on. They have the beginnings of what could be a very good defense, and their needs for the future are obvious. Offensive Line, Pass Rushers, Quarterback, Alonso replacement, young depth at Defensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, and Running Back.
2. About 44 million in cap is coming off the books after the 2019 season just between, Quinn, Parker, Branch, Sitton, and Amendola. Another 8 million for Alonso, and 25 million for Tannehill, after 2020. That’s 77 million in cap room between 7 players.
3. The 2020 draft class is set to see Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, Justin Herbert, and Jacob Eason. The Dolphins will get their franchise Quarterback that year. Offensive Line is the Phins biggest need and the 2019 class will see no less than 12 offensive lineman go in the first two rounds. If they can’t get Jonah Williams or Greg Little in the first round they could fill their second biggest need, Pass Rusher, with Clelin Ferrell, Jachai Polite, Zach Allen, or Brian Burns.
The Dolphins aren’t any less of a team than they have been the last 2 seasons when they were talking “win now.” The only difference is that they are being honest about their situation. We all knew that we were in the middle of a Tannebaum franchise trashing and we all knew that any success was predicated on Tannehill being healthy. The Phins are through that now and there is reason to be happy about it. Phins Up!