If everyone is operating under the assumption that the top four quarterbacks in next month’s NFL Draft are out of the Dolphins’ reach at No. 11, it’s time to sift through contingency plans.
The first task is figuring out what position to address with such a high pick, and the second is to determine whether there’s a worthwhile quarterback later in the draft. With regard to the latter, they could push that decision to the 2019 draft depending on who’s available to them this year.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper is among those who believe the first four quarterbacks will go in the top five picks, so he has Miami drafting Florida State safety Derwin James in the first round.
As far as quarterbacks go, he’d push for the Dolphins to take Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta in Round 2 or 3.
“You don’t want to force the quarterback pick at No. 11 unless you feel Lamar Jackson’s worthy of being that high of a pick,” Kiper said this afternoon. “I have him going No. 15 to Arizona. If you’re looking for a second- or third-round quarterback that’s intriguing to me, it would be Kyle Lauletta from Richmond.”
Kiper also suggested Western Kentucky’s Mike White as a possible second- or third-rounder and he likes Marshall quarterback Chase Litton, who turned pro after his junior year, in the late rounds.
He sees a high ceiling for Litton, if a team is willing to “put him on the shelf for a couple years.” That would require the Dolphins to roll along with David Fales or Brock Osweiler as the backup to Ryan Tannehill this season. Tannehill’s contract is up after 2020.
“Had he gone back to Marshall and had a big year, he probably would have been a second-round pick (in 2019),” Kiper said. “Now you may be able to get a guy like Litton in the fifth or sixth round.”
He would do something like that rather than punt until next season, when the quarterback class is more unpredictable than it was this year.
“You don’t know what’s going to be there next year,” Kiper said. “I mean, Drew Lock out of Missouri and Clayton Thorson out of Northwestern—You don’t know how that group’s going to develop. Brian Lewerke of Michigan State.
“These guys (in the 2018 class) were highly rated coming into this year. They didn’t just come out of the blue and magically appear.”
Kiper likes Lauletta for the Dolphins ahead of Mason Rudolph, who is thought by some to be a potential late-first-round selection.
Despite playing for the Richmond Spiders in the FCS, Lauletta has been impressive in the lead up to the draft. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and looks like a savvy passer who can improvise and function under duress.
He had 28 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions last season, completed 64.9 percent of his passes and averaged 340 yards per game.
“Watching him at Richmond and the way he played at the Senior Bowl, he just didn’t seem to be in awe of anything,” Kiper said. “He just fits in, goes out there and competes. The level (of competition) didn’t bother him coming out of the I-AA ranks. I like Kyle Lauletta. That’s a guy in the second or third round could be viewed as this year’s version of Jimmy Garoppolo.”
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