If Miami Dolphins look hard enough, they can find QB talent at No. 11 (and well beyond)

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was a fourth-round bargain in 2016. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

You know the Dolphins are committed to Ryan Tannehill as their starting quarterback in 2018. You also know they currently have the No. 11 pick in this week’s draft. And you know this quarterback class, supposedly four deep, could be spoken for by the time Miami’s on the clock.

But if you need a reminder that all is not lost, here goes.

Recent history tells us there’s a good chance that No. 11 slot will look considerably rosier someday. If you’re willing to erase visions of Sam Darnold or the Joshes (Allen and Rosen) in aqua and orange, you mind find someone on the level of a Case Keenum or Russell Wilson palatable.

Yes. Peruse the list of the NFL’s top 10 passers from last season and you’ll find that fully half of them would have been available at No. 11 in their respective draft pools.

At the risk of bringing up a sore subject, there’s Drew Brees, whose 103.9 rating in 2017 was surpassed only by former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith. Brees was the 32nd overall choice by San Diego in 2001, and behind him in the top 10 are four others who waited awhile for their phone to ring: Tom Brady (famously 199th in 2000), Aaron Rodgers (24th in 2005), Wilson (75th in 2012) and Keenum, who made the Colts wish that when they made the 253rd (and last) pick in the 2012 draft, they instead went with Keenum rather than blow such a hot commodity on Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish.

OK, so making sense of the NFL’s quarterback rating system, where 158.3 somehow equals an A-plus, isn’t everybody’s favorite barometer. Winning is. Let’s now look at the dozen QBs to start a Super Bowl since 2010.

Guess what? Same results. The Mannings (Eli and Peyton) and Cam Newton were No. 1 overall picks, and Matt Ryan slipped through the Dolphins’ hands before going to Atlanta No. 3 overall in 2008, but beyond them, the number of Super passers who were not available at No. 11?

Quarterback Ben Roetlisberger an 11th overall pick, turned out to be quite serviceable for the Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Zero.

There’s Joe Flacco (18th, 2008), Nick Foles (88th, 2012) and Colin Kaepernick (36th, 2011) in addition to Rodgers, Brady and Wilson. And look here, Ben Roethlisberger, who in 2004 was taken with … the 11th pick.

Finally, since my fingers were itchy on the calculator, I computed the sweet spot for landing these two sets of standout passers, and it’s way lower than you’d think. Before getting to those numbers, a disclaimer: The selection of Brady is such an outlier, for the sake of getting a truer indication, I tossed out both him and Keenum, since there was no way to quantify a guy who wasn’t drafted.

Average draft position for last season’s top 10-rated passers: 17.5.

Average draft position of the Super Bowl QBs since 2010: 26.3.

(If you’re still curious on how the inclusion of Brady would have affected those averages, it’s 37.6 for the 2017 top 10 list and 40.8 for the Super Bowl passers.)

Bottom line: Even if there’s an early run on quarterbacks, the heat will still be on Adam Gase, the QB whisperer, to be screaming in the ears of Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier to find the quarterback of the future.

Eighty-five plus picks came and went before anybody thought enough to call the names Jacoby Brissett, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and Foles. Just about everybody passed once on Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Baker Mayfield might be Miami’s best hope at landing one of the four prized QBs. That’s on Thursday night. Check back in a few years to see if Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph prove they were the real prizes in 2018.

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