Long before this year’s NFL Draft, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he was comfortable with the prospect of not taking a single quarterback. It seemed obvious that Miami would take somebody at the position, but he warned against assuming that.
In the end, the team wrapped up the draft Saturday with eight draft picks and not a single quarterback among them — not even a seventh-rounder who could be a developmental project.
And that might not be a big deal.
The Dolphins are all-in on Ryan Tannehill as their starter this year, and any quarterback they took in the draft might not be ready to work as a viable backup this season anyway. It’s not an enormous problem for Miami to revisit the quarterback position a year from now.
If they do, Missouri’s Drew Lock is the early leader in that class. He’s 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and offers an array of skills as a pocket passer.
Lock, who is coming back for his senior season in the fall, led the country with 44 touchdown passes last year. He completed 57.8 percent of his passes, averaged 304.9 yards per game and had just 13 interceptions out of 419 pass attempts as the Tigers went 7-6.
Former Florida dual-threat quarterback Will Grier should be near the top of most draft boards, too, Now at West Virginia, he will be 24 years old when he hits the 2019 draft.
Grier has good mobility and terrific accuracy. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes, averaged 317.3 yards per game and had 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions last year. He also ran for two touchdowns.
There are many other candidates, including Michigan’s Shea Patterson, Clayton Thorson of Northwestern and Jarrett Stidham from Auburn, but the upcoming class isn’t thought to be as strong as this year’s.
Led by Baker Mayfield at No. 1 to Cleveland, last week’s draft saw five quarterbacks go in the first round. That’s the most since Dan Marino’s 1983 class.
Mayfield and Sam Darnold (No. 3) were well out of Miami’s reach, but a somewhat unexpected opportunity emerged when Josh Allen and Josh Rosen slipped past Denver at No. 5. The Dolphins could have traded up to get either of them, but were content to stay at No. 11 and didn’t want to give up future assets.
For an idea of what the price might have been, take a look at what the three teams who traded up to get top-10 quarterbacks paid.
The Jets gave up three second-round picks to go from No. 6 to No. 3 last month. On draft night, Buffalo spent two second-rounders to jump from No. 12 to No. 7 so it could grab Allen. Then, one spot ahead of the Dolphins, Arizona traded up from 15th to 10th for the cost of a third and a fifth.
That last one wouldn’t have been an overwhelming sacrifice, but Miami was never totally sold on Rosen and was thrilled to get Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick so late when it had him graded as a top-six player in the draft.
At the tail end of the first round, Baltimore put together a package to swap its No. 52 pick (second round) with Philadelphia’s spot at No. 32. The Ravens exchanged fourth-round picks with the Eagles, moving Philadelphia up seven spots, and sent over a 2019 second-round pick. Essentially, they gave up a future second-round pick so they could take Lamar Jackson.
There’s nothing wrong with Miami’s aversion to get involved in those bidding wars, and delaying the quarterback pick to next year has some logic to it.
Perhaps Tannehill has a gigantic comeback season and continues the progress he showed under Gase in 2016, and there wouldn’t be much motivation for the team to plan for a post-Tannehill future if he’s a 30-year-old Pro Bowler this season. And it’s possible Gase knows how to unlock something in David Fales or Brock Osweiler, both of whom are 27.
Maybe all the Dolphins’ plans, including betting so big on Tannehill, will backfire and send them spiraling toward a 3-13 year. In that case, they’d have a significantly higher pick with which to address the quarterback situation.
The Dolphins’ patience made sense this time around, and it’ll take a year to see how well that decision plays out. If it doesn’t, they’ve got good options next spring.
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