2019 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins could revisit quarterback position

Drew Lock could be the top quarterback in next year’s NFL Draft. (Getty Images)

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.

[Dolphins’ NFL Draft week a success with smart picks, restraint on trade calls]

[Minkah Fitzpatrick in Round 1 is a homerun for the Dolphins]

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins pass on highly rated QB Mason Rudolph in 3rd

Will the Dolphins look smart for passing on Mason Rudolph? (Getty Images)

DAVIE — The Dolphins got skunked on the top quarterbacks in the draft, watching the last of them go one pick ahead of them at No. 10, then turned down a chance to grab one from the next tier in the third round.

Leading up to the NFL Draft, it seemed unlikely Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph would still be around when Miami’s spot came up in the third round, but there he was at No. 73. The team had arguably the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback sitting there for them to take, but opted for Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker.

“It was a consideration,” general manager Chris Grier said of taking a quarterback. “But for us, Baker was a guy at that spot who was just too good for us to pass up.”

The Dolphins didn’t feel that way about Rudolph, who didn’t overwhelm them with his personality and playing style, and he went three picks later to Pittsburgh.

He’s a 6-foot-5 pocket passer who proved himself as an accurate thrower on deep balls and was proficient running the kind of up-tempo offense Adam Gase has wanted to implement.

Rudolph piled up 12,765 yards and 86 touchdowns while completing 63.6 percent of his passes in three years as a collegiate starter. He had decent mobility as well, which is a must for Miami.

Once the Dolphins lost out on the first four quarterbacks, especially Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, it set them up with the daunting task of trying to find an undervalued quarterback they believed to be someone they could develop as a challenger to Ryan Tannehill.

However, they had to balance it with addressing major needs at tight end and linebacker. Miami wasn’t necessarily out to grab a safety at No. 11 overall, but they were thrilled to see a potential top-five pick fall to them in Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is believed to be an incredible talent with the potential to vie for a starting spot this year, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for the Dolphins to go into the season with Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald.

Had they gone with a linebacker at No. 11, like Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, they still could have taken tight end Mike Gesicki in the second round and maintained the flexibility to pounce on Rudolph in the third.

Instead, he goes to the Steelers and will get at least one year to learn behind Ben Roethlisberger. When he is ready, he’ll step in as the quarterback of an exceptionally stable organization with many good pieces in place offensively.

That’s good a spot for Rudolph.

In Miami, he would’ve been expected to beat out David Fales and Brock Osweiler for the backup job this year. And that’s a particularly high-pressure spot considering there are no guarantees when it comes to Ryan Tannehill’s health.

At this point, any quarterback the Dolphins get will be more of a long-term developmental prospect. They have two picks in the fourth round — Nos. 123 and 131 — to go for someone like Kyle Lauletta from Richmond or Luke Falk of Washington State if one of them hangs around long enough.

The chances of hitting jackpot decrease as the draft goes on, and there’s a reason most of the analysts and teams had Rudolph ranked decisively ahead of the rest of the class. The Dolphins didn’t think he would be a franchise-changer in the long run, and now it’s possible they’ll be in the same situation at quarterback a year from now. Unless they strike gold in the late rounds or Tannehill puts up a monster comeback season — they’re betting big on the latter — the next young quarterback could be a year away.

[Miami Dolphins stuck without a QB in Round 1 of NFL Draft; Will it cost them?]

[Vote: Grade the Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft picks]

[GALLERY: Check out the best photos from the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

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Lieser: Dolphins forced to watch as top quarterbacks go early in 2018 NFL Draft

Josh Allen would’ve been jackpot for the Dolphins, but they lacked the resources to move up and take him. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — On a night when everything seemed to be lining up for the Dolphins to grab a top quarterback in the NFL Draft, they walked out of the first round without one.

They ended up with Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11, and maybe in a year or two the phrase “ended up with” will look foolish. Miami already has big-money safeties in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, and Fitzpatrick will have to outplay them over time and force them out to make this a smart choice.

But everyone knows the Dolphins need a prized rookie quarterback, and it was a turbulent night waiting to see if one fell to them.

Months ago it looked like 11th was high enough, and in most years it would be. As teams maneuvered and draft boards shifted, Miami’s chances dwindled.

Then came a jolt of hope. The Giants opted for running back Saquon Barkley, and the Broncos veered for defensive end Bradley Chubb at No. 5. That left Josh Allen and Josh Rosen to tumble through the next five picks since none of those teams were in the market for a quarterback.

The Dolphins must’ve been thrilled. They were in line for more than mere leftovers. They’d actually get their choice of Allen or Rosen, and they’ve loved Allen and Baker Mayfield throughout the process.

“Really, the way it all played out, we didn’t think any of the quarterbacks would make it to us,” general manager Chris Grier said. “For us, we talked to a couple of teams about maybe moving up or down, but nothing real serious. For us, at the end of the day, if one of those guys was there, we would have talked about it. But we just didn’t think anybody would be there.”

Grier’s been around long enough to know that luck rarely smiles upon the Dolphins.

The problem was they couldn’t afford to sacrifice anything from their supply of picks as they try to build the roster into a contender over the next two years. They made that decision before the draft and, a credit to them, didn’t give in impulsively amid the frenzy taking place with the picks ahead of them.

They watched helplessly but calmly as the Bills traded two second-rounders to jump to No. 7 and take Allen. Then, on the brink of Miami landing Rosen, Arizona swooped in at No. 10 by giving up a third and fifth to move up from No. 15.

Well in advance of the draft, the Jets ponied up three second-round picks to go from sixth to third to ensure they got a quarterback. They chose Sam Darnold.

Mayfield was the quarterback they coveted, particularly coach Adam Gase, and that dream died immediately when Cleveland stunningly took him No. 1. The Jets took Sam Darnold third, and he’ll be a problem for the Dolphins for years if he’s as good as people think. Many analysts had him as the best overall quarterback in the draft.

Losing out on these quarterbacks will sting even more if Darnold and Allen turn out to be stars and haunt the Dolphins from within the AFC East. The only thing worse than wandering without a franchise quarterback would be watching the Jets and Bills find theirs.

Whether this was as unlucky as 2005, when the Dolphins happened upon a precious No. 2 pick but the best player available was Ronnie Brown, hinges on how good Fitzpatrick becomes. He’s a certified talent from a program that’s as close to the NFL as a college operation can get, so there’s good cause to believe he’ll be an instant contributor.

But nothing’s ever as important as quarterback, and Miami’s rolling toward the upcoming season with Ryan Tannehill coming off knee trouble that’s kept him out since December 2016 and a pair of unproven backups in David Fales and Brock Osweiler.

Ideally, this would have been the time to bring in a top-shelf rookie who could be the No. 2 quarterback this year and put Tannehill on the clock for the long term. In a dream scenario, someone like Mayfield would have come in and immediately challenged for the top job.

“Ryan is our guy,” Grier said, echoing what seems to be the Dolphins’ offseason motto. “We believe in Ryan. He’s going to be our starter.”

He is because he has to be, especially now. The Dolphins might truly believe in Tannehill, but even if they didn’t, they don’t have a choice. They’re committed to however that goes, just like they were when they stood firm at No. 11.

[A look inside the Dolphins’ process for making draft picks and who makes the final call]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

2018 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins prepare for Round 1 surprises, snags

What are the chances the Dolphins can get Baker Mayfield? (Getty Images)

The NFL Draft always seems predictable right up until the teams actually start making picks. Then it gets crazy.

Highly thought of players fall, and a supposed “reach” goes early. Maybe a scandal shakes it up, like when Laremy Tunsil plummeted from potentially being the first overall pick to landing with the Dolphins at No. 13 two years ago after someone hacked his Twitter and Instagram accounts. And the price of trades fluctuates based on desperation and impulse.

That’s the environment the Dolphins are preparing to enter when the first round begins Thursday night. They’ve got the No. 11 pick and they aren’t making assumptions about who’s going to be sitting there for them.

“We’ll have an idea, but there’s always a wrench that gets thrown in from someone on draft day,” general manager Chris Grier said.

For example, conventional wisdom this year is that Miami won’t have a chance to grab any of the top four quarterbacks. Many mock drafts have Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen gone after the first five picks.

The Browns go first, followed by the Giants and Jets. Cleveland has the No. 4 pick as well, and Denver chooses fifth. A quarterback is logical for all four teams.

But the Dolphins aren’t operating with that as a certainty. Perhaps the Giants will fall in love with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. He’s far and away the best skill player in the draft, and some of New York’s offseason moves suggest the team might try to make the most of what it has rather than dive into a full rebuild.

If that happens, the teams picking sixth through 10th aren’t thought to be in the market for a quarterback. All five of them have a starter who is 28 or younger.

That scenario would leave Miami with whoever’s left out of the four, which would likely be UCLA’s Rosen. The consensus is that Allen and Darnold will be the first two picks. There’s also a slim chance that Mayfield slides — it’d be great fortune for the Dolphins to have their choice of the two — if the Jets and Broncos aren’t sold on him and opt to go a different direction to solve their quarterback issues.

Miami doesn’t seem to have any reservations about Mayfield based on what coach Adam Gase said about him last month.

“There’s a competitiveness that you love to see,” he said. “You can tell that he doesn’t want to lose at anything that he’s doing… As a coach, you always love guys like that… You want to make sure you do more for that guy to put him in a better position.

“When you get that kind of energy from guys, it’s fun to be around. I’ve enjoyed the amount of time that we’ve been able to spend with him, whether it be the Senior Bowl, the Combine, when we do our workouts, Pro Days, things like that.”

But even if one or two non-picks go Miami’s way, any top quarterback that slips out of the top five will probably prompt trade attempts from teams like the Bills (picking No. 12 and 22) and Cardinals (No. 15).

If one of those teams makes a move, the Dolphins are unlikely to do anything about it. It is extremely unlikely they will sacrifice other picks to move up this year, so they’ll probably address a different need at No. 11 if the quarterbacks are gone.

It would be ideal for Miami to extract a starting linebacker and tight end from this year’s draft. No. 11 is too early for a tight end, but there are two enticing linebackers expected to be available in that spot: Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds.

The Dolphins might also find a team that wants to move up, which would give them additional assets as Grier, Gase and vice president Mike Tannenbaum try to fine tune the roster.

They could trade back in the first round, grab a tight end like Hayden Hurst, and pad their stock of picks heading into Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday. That could set them up nicely to get one of the second-tier quarterbacks who could help them as a backup this season and be a possible replacement for Ryan Tannehill down the road.

Regardless of what transpires, the key to navigating the wild world of the NFL Draft is flexibility and planning ahead. Teams need to make critical, possibly franchise-altering decisions on the fly, so they prepare by hashing out those choices in advance. The Dolphins are in their final few days to get ready and they aren’t ruling out anything.

[A look inside the Dolphins’ process for making draft picks and who makes the final call]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser | Version 4.0

Sam Darnold hasn’t proven himself as the clear No. 1 quarterback. (Getty Images)

The NFL Draft starts Thursday, which means the Dolphins will have their board set no later than Tuesday in preparation for all the wild wrinkles that can happen when teams start trading and prospects start sliding.

The biggest mystery remains whether they’ll take a quarterback, be it at No. 11 or later in the draft.

Here’s the latest projection for the first round:

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen’s raw talent has propelled him past Sam Darnold and everyone else at the position to make him the likely No. 1 overall pick.

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal
There’s a thought that the Giants have become infatuated with running back Saquon Barkley, but Darnold is a really good option as a successor to Eli Manning.

3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield has successfully convinced teams he can do the job despite size and personality concerns, and he won’t last long on draft day.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
If Barkley’s here at No. 4, it’s a great pick for the Browns. They’d go into the season with several nice pieces on offense.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen’s getting knocked down on a lot of draft boards and would be intriguing for the Dolphins. If Denver passes on him, the next five teams aren’t thought to be in the market for a quarterback.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Chubb would be a potential No. 1 pick if not for there being so many quarterback-hungry teams up high.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Buccaneers need tons of help in their secondary, and Fitzpatrick is thought to be the best defensive back in the draft. He can play safety as well.

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears are usually conservative in the draft and will be tempted by Quenton Nelson, but Mitchell Trubisky gets a big-time threat here.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Nelson should be an instant starter on a San Francisco offensive line that needs some upgrades after last season.

10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State
James has shown the potential to be a proficient safety in coverage and playing up in the box as a run stopper.

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins need offense, but this is a good consolation prize after missing out on the top four quarterbacks and Saquon Barkley. Smith is thought to be pro-ready and provides flexibility going forward.

12. Buffalo Bills: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Assuming the Bills don’t get desperate and trade up for a quarterback, they’ll land the top left tackle here.

13. Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds is a dangerously athletic prospect and he enters the draft at just 19. The word upside gets overused at draft time, but it’s definitely appropriate in this case.

14. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Moore has climbed toward the top of the receiver class and would be a welcome addition to the Green Bay offense.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Rather than give up a huge ransom to take a quarterback high, the Cardinals can get a potential top-10 talent in Ward.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Vita Vea is an impressive defensive tackle, too, but there are concerns about his weight, plus it always seems safer to take an Alabama guy.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Speaking of Vea, he’ll join a well-established defensive line here.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
This offensive line needs tons of help, and Miller can play either tackle spot for the Seahawks this season.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
The loss of Dez Bryant makes it imperative that Dallas dig a top receiver out of this draft, and Suttons a nice target at 6-foot-4.

20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
Davenport is a bit of a question mark because he faced low-level competition in college, but new coach Matt Patricia will get him up to speed.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Alabama guys continue to get the benefit of the doubt, and Evans should be a big help to a Cincinnati defense that needs it.

22. Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Were the Patriots really interested in Jackson, or was it a ploy to entice teams ahead of them to take him? Either way, the Bills are in.

23. New England Patriots: Will Hernandez, G, Texas-El Paso
Hernandez is the best guard in this class after Nelson and he’s a good value pick for the Patriots this late.

24. Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Alexander is an excellent cornerback, which helps a Panthers team that looks thin at the position.

25. Tennessee Titans: James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Titans need interior line help and could use Daniels at guard if that’s where they need him most this season.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Hurst will be a nice pickup for Atlanta’s offense, and this is the perfect spot to take him. He’s the best tight end available this year.

27. New Orleans Saints: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk fits nicely as a versatile receiver in New Orleans’ system and he’s one of the most polished receivers in his class.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Reid would be fortunate to land in Pittsburgh, one of the perks of not being a top-10 pick. He’d join a stable organization that’s well-equipped to develop him.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
This would be an interesting spot for the Dolphins to trade up to if they think they can get Goedert or Hurst late in Round 1.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock ranks Hughes as the third-best cornerback in the draft.

31. New England Patriots: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson has slipped a bit this spring, but it’s hard to forget that he had eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes last season.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
One fun thing about being world champs is that you don’t have to draft for need. Bryan’s the best player left, and the Eagles will snatch him up.

[A look inside the Dolphins’ process for making draft picks and who makes the final call]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser | Version 3.0

The Dolphins want Baker Mayfield. Will they get lucky? (Getty Images)

The Dolphins are in the home stretch of their NFL Draft preparation, which includes preparing for every possible scenario. They make all the hypothetical decisions they might face in advance, which coach Adam Gase says turns the actual draft into an easy process.

“It’s such a less controversial thing than everybody else tries to make it out to be,” he said last year. “When you’re like three picks away, you throw five names up on the board and it figures out itself… It’s not as hard as everybody makes it out on draft day. It’s really kind of easy. If anybody makes it out to be more than that, they’re full of (it).”

That’s what happened when the Dolphins lucked into Laremy Tunsil at No. 13 in 2016. Could something like that occur again this year with one of the top four quarterbacks sliding to them at 11th overall? It’s unlikely, but Miami will be ready if it breaks that way.

Here’s the latest projection of how the first round will unfold:

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal
The Browns have maintained that they might wait all the way until draft night to announce their intentions, but it’s straightforward: They need a quarterback, and Darnold is the best this year.

2. New York Giants: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen is considered a little bit of a project, but his upside is too great to ignore.

3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The closer it gets to the draft, the more it seems like the Jets will play it safe by picking Rosen over Baker Mayfield.

4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Defensive end Bradley Chubb will be a temptation here, but the Browns need an offensive spark more than they need another pass rusher.

5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Like the Dolphins, Denver has been linked to Mayfield throughout the last three months and won’t be able to skip past him here.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If this ends up happening, it’s probably what the Colts would have done anyway if they’d stayed at No. 3.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Buccaneers would love to land Barkley, but he won’t last this long. They need help at cornerback and safety, and Fitzpatrick could play either spot.

8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
New Bears coach Matt Nagy will be eager to put some weapons around Mitchell Trubisky, and Ridley is the best receiver in this year’s class.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The 49ers need help up front to protect $137 million quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, so Nelson makes sense as an immediate starter.

10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State
James has been one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft over the last month, and the Raiders will jump on him here.

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Miami needs another starting linebacker this year and a long-term answer at the position. Smith and Raekwon McMillan could be a tremendous duo going forward.

12. Buffalo Bills: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Left tackle is a must for the Bills this year and it’s too important of a position for them to wait and see who’s left at No. 15.

13. Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Redskins would be happy to get Smith here, too, but it’s doubtful the Dolphins would skip past him.

14. Green Bay Packers: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Miller is a smart pick here to help Green Bay’s offensive line and should be a mainstay for the Packers.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Cardinals have all kinds of holes and quarterback is the biggest one, but this is too early to reach for anyone outside the top four prospects.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Defensive tackle isn’t one of Baltimore’s biggest needs this year, but Vea is too talented to pass up this late. This is a case of taking the best player available.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Chargers are putting together an incredible defensive line, and Payne would be a great addition to it.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
Defensive end is one of the highest-valued positions in the NFL right now, and Davenport is excellent.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk won’t have to travel far if he lands with the Cowboys, who can bolster their receiving corps by picking up a player who can play inside or outside.

20. Detroit Lions: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The experts remain divided on whether Hurst or Dallas Goedert is the best tight end in this year’s class, but the Lions will happy to land either of them.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Bengals better shore up their defense, and Jackson has the potential to be a lockdown corner in the NFL.

22. Buffalo Bills: Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
Sutton had more than 2,300 yards over the last two years and presents a big threat at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds.

23. New England Patriots: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams could patch a hole at guard if needed before eventually growing into a starting tackle, or the Patriots could play him at tackle right away.

24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, Texas-El Paso
The Panthers aren’t far from being a contender in the NFC would do themselves a big favor by building up their offensive line.

25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Defensive end is a need for the Titans, and Hubbard had seven sacks for the Buckeyes as a junior last season.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Goedert would instantly be the favorite to win the starting job in Atlanta and would add an important element to the offense for Matt Ryan.

27. New Orleans Saints: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner would land in a perfect spot to learn behind Drew Brees and play in one of the NFL’s strongest offenses.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
The Steelers are a Super Bowl contender this year, and Hughes can be a special teamer until it’s time for him to take over a starting job.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
It works out nicely for the Jaguars that they need a tight end and there’s a really good one available here.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
It’s never a bad thing to be loaded at cornerback. Alexander is a good choice for Minnesota at the end of the first round.

31.  New England Patriots: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Unless the Patriots are in love with Mason Rudolph, they can probably wait on picking a quarterback until they pick at No. 43 overall. Rudolph might even still be there.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

The Eagles need to be thinking about value more than anything else here. They need a player who could grow into a star or become a treasured trade asset.

[Insane 2017 Miami Dolphins season made Adam Gase a smarter coach]

[Will Dolphins’ passing game have better ball distribution this year?]

[Are the Dolphins going to turn Ryan Tannehill loose as a runner after two knee issues?]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL Draft: Five first-round targets for Miami Dolphins at No. 11

Baker Mayfield is the big prize for the Dolphins in this month’s NFL Draft.. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins are in a complicated position with three weeks left until the NFL Draft. They haven’t addressed urgent needs at linebacker and tight end in free agency, and it’s starting to look like the No. 11 pick isn’t high enough to land one of the top-tier quarterbacks.

Whether they draft for immediate need or plan for the future depends somewhat on how they view the upcoming season. If Miami is legitimately trying to fight for a playoff berth this year, it has to find a starter to fill a vacancy. If not, maybe it looks ahead toward spots that will open in 2019 and ’20.

Here are five players the Dolphins should be eying in the first round:

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Landing Mayfield seems like Miami’s loftiest ambition. Adam Gase has been open about how much he enjoys his personality and playing style. That said, there are slim odds that he’ll last past the first five picks. The Dolphins have to hope he falls like Laremy Tunsil did in 2016 or that the Giants, Jets or Broncos falls in love with a non-quarterback. If that happens the teams picking No. 6 through No. 10 probably aren’t in the market for a quarterback. However, that opens the door for teams to trade up into one of those spots. Mayfield is a long shot for the Dolphins.

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Everyone’s tired of the Dolphins spending first-round picks on offensive linemen, but the line continues to be a question mark. Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper rank McGlinchey the best tackle in this year’s class, and he would provide insurance behind Ja’Wuan James and Tunsil. James is a free agent at the end of this season, and Tunsil has two seasons left on his rookie deal as he tries to prove he’s the cornerstone Miami imagined two years ago. McGlinchey is versatile, having started every game at right tackle as a junior and every game at left last year.

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins need a starting linebacker, and Smith is as powerful as they come. He had 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last year. One potential glitch if Miami’s hoping to get Smith, though, is that a few teams in the top 10 also need a linebacker. That includes Oakland at No. 10. If the Dolphins are able to get him, they’d have two prized young linebackers in place with Smith and Raekwon McMillan, plus veteran Kiko Alonso. That sounds pretty good for a team that’s been light at the position for years.

Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Miami still feels good about its defensive line despite the departure of Ndamukong Suh, but is it confident enough in Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux to proceed as the starters? Phillips has shown he operates best when someone is threatening his job, plus he’s in the final year of his rookie deal. The Dolphins also have Vincent Taylor, a sixth-round pick last year who played in 13 games. Vea is 6-foot-5, 340 pounds and had 8.5 sacks over his last two seasons.

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
If the Dolphins are intent on landing a linebacker, they’ll probably get whoever’s left out of Edmunds and Smith. Edmunds is a little more of hybrid and could play defensive end, too. Of his 108 tackles last year, 14 were for negative yardage. Miami is overloaded at d-end now, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case after this year. Edmunds could work at linebacker as a rookie with a plan to eventually transition to defensive end.

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2018 NFL Draft: No certainty Dolphins will pick a quarterback at all

Will Josh Allen or any of the other Big Four still be available when the Dolphins pick at No. 11? (Getty Images)

ORLANDO—It seems obvious the Dolphins need to get a quarterback reasonably high in this year’s NFL Draft class. Even if they’re committed to Ryan Tannehill for the remainder of his contract, three more seasons, they need a quality backup for 2018 and a contingency for the future in case Tannehill isn’t good enough.

But coach Adam Gase said it’s not automatic the team will jump on one.

With Miami appearing to be boxed out from getting one of the top four quarterbacks at No. 11, attention turns to the second-tier guys like Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson. If the team isn’t sold on someone in that range, it won’t give up a second-round pick at that position.

“Chris (Grier) will do a good job putting the draft board together and we’ll pick the right guys,” Gase said. “I don’t know how the draft is going to fall … What if three teams trade up even higher than what we’ve been seeing and everybody’s gone?

“Are we taking a guy just to take a guy? I mean I’d love to add a quarterback as much as anybody else but at the same time, I want it to be the right guy for us.”

The Dolphins are high on Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, and there remains a small chance one of those two could slide. Southern California’s Sam Darnold and Allen are likely to be the first two picked, leaving Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen.

While the first four teams in the draft all need a quarterback, if one of them becomes fixated on another player, the remaining teams ahead of the Dolphins don’t appear to be looking for one.

Mayfield seems to be the most likely to fall a few spots in that scenario, and Gase would be thrilled if that happens.

On the flip side, part of the urgency for Miami to pick a quarterback is to take advantage of having the No. 11 pick. The organization believes it won’t be slotted that high very often (many outside those walls don’t agree), so it can’t sleep on the opportunity.

However, if they aren’t taking one at No. 11, there’s nothing rare or special about the rest of their picks beginning with No. 42 in the second round. Or, what if one of the top four slips to them and it’s not a guy they want? At that point, if the Dolphins aren’t fully on board with a specific quarterback, it’d be more sensible to revisit the position in the 2019 draft.

Gase is very confident in backup David Fales, who played sparingly last year, and said there was no way Miami was letting him leave in free agency. Fales appears to be the man to beat as Brock Osweiler, Brandon Doughty and any potential rookie vie for the No. 2 spot.

The Dolphins have typically kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster during Gase’s two seasons as head coach, and Doughty has been on the practice squad. This is his final season of eligibility for NFL practice squads.

Last year they put Tannehill on Injured Reserve during training camp and went with Jay Cutler and Matt Moore as the active quarterbacks. When Moore got hurt, they brought in Fales. Collectively, Cutler, Moore and Fales combined to give Miami the fifth-worst passer rating in the NFL.

Fales, 27, was with Gase in Chicago in 2015 and had been with Miami until the final cut of the preseason last season. Osweiler also has history with Gase, having played under him in Denver from 2012 through ’14.

Gase would almost certainly have to carry three quarterbacks in 2018 if the Dolphins draft one, because of his interest in Fales and to avoid being forced to play the rookie if Tannehill gets hurt.

“Probably,” he said. “Yes… That’s an important position. I like the guys that we have on our roster right now, and then if we add someone else, obviously we’re doing it for a good reason.

“At that position, the more guys that we can bring along and the more guys that we can develop—I think it’s hard to just say that we’re going to keep a practice squad guy.”

If the Dolphins don’t draft a quarterback in the first- or second-round, they’d still likely bring in a late-rounder or undrafted rookie to compete with Doughty and the others. It’s just that it could be a name very few in South Florida recognize.

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2018 NFL Draft: Perfect fit between Dolphins coach Adam Gase, QB Baker Mayfield

Heisman winner Baker Mayfield seems a lot like Gase Jr. (Getty Images)

ORLANDO—A lot of the quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft class have mentioned how much they enjoyed meeting with Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

“Don’t sound surprised,” Gase smirked while sitting down for the league’s annual coaches’ breakfast today.

It helps that he’s one of the youngest coaches in the league at 39, but obviously there’s more to it. Gase’s bravado is relentless, and he becomes increasingly defiant when critics come at him. He’s a self-described “hot head” who certainly knows something about losing control of his emotions in games, meetings and even press conferences.

Sound like any of this year’s quarterbacks?

The Dolphins might not have a shot to get him at No. 11, but Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield seems like a perfect match for Gase.

“We’re close in personality probably,” Gase said. “I like the way he plays… I think Baker’s personality is something that’s infectious to other guys.

“There’s a competitiveness that you love to see. You can tell that he doesn’t want to lose at anything that he’s doing. I don’t know what else he could possibly be doing, but whatever it is, he wants to win that.”

Mayfield said of Gase last month, “I think we related a lot, mindset-wise on offense. He’s a smart guy. There’s a reason he’s a young coach and he’s that successful.”

Mayfield is an undeniable talent and won the Heisman Trophy last year, but some draft analysts believe his antics and attitude will be a turn off. The Dolphins don’t view it that way.

Gase sees a gutsy, athletic quarterback who runs hot like he does and he’s the last guy who’s going to take issue with that.

He also sees a player who threw an astounding 119 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions in three seasons at Oklahoma while averaging 307 yards per game. Mayfield led the Sooners to a 12-2 season and had them on the brink of reaching the National Championship Game before losing to Georgia in overtime.

The fact that he’s demonstrative doesn’t count against that résumé. Gase counts it as a plus.

“As a coach, you love guys like that,” he said. “You want to be around them because that gives you a little bit more. You want to make sure you do more for that guy to put him in a better position. When you get that kind of energy from guys, it’s fun to be around. I’ve enjoyed the amount of time we’ve been able to spend with him.

“Some of the things I do aren’t always great. Sometimes the passion and emotion gets the best of you and sometimes you do things that are positive, sometimes you do things where you look back and wish you had done something different. That’s part of this sport. It’s emotion. It’s a violent game. A lot of things happen in a matter of split-seconds.”

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2018 NFL Draft: Dolphins might turn attention to Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph

Mason Rudolph offers a lot to like as a possible second-round pick. (Getty Images)

If the Dolphins are boxed out from getting one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft class, they’ll turn their attention to the next tier. The best of that bunch might be Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

As far as consolation prizes go, Rudolph’s not bad. He’s a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder who looks exactly like the guy Central Casting would send out to play the role of pocket passer. Once he took over as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback his sophomore year, he piled up 86 touchdown passes and had just 22 interceptions while averaging 327 passing yards per game.

He might end up being a second- or third-round pick because he’s not as good, for now, as the top quarterbacks, but his potential is unmistakable.

“My ability to throw the ball down the field accurately, I’ve done it for three years,” he said. “I think accuracy in general, across the board, I’m one of the most accurate in the class. My production for three years, my wins as a starter, 32, and my ability to play with injuries speaks for itself. I’m confident.”

The Dolphins are committed to Ryan Tannehill as the starter for this year and probably the next two, but it’s imperative they take a quarterback in this year’s draft class.

At the moment, they’re going into the season with David Fales, Brock Osweiler and Brandon Doughty as the backups for a quarterback who has had two major knee issues and hasn’t played since December 2016. Fales and Osweiler are journeymen, and Doughty has been on the practice squad since Miami drafted him in the seventh round two years ago.

The Dolphins can’t stay that way, and their effort to find a quarterback in the draft can’t be something negligible like taking a flier on a late-rounder. They need someone ready to contribute as a backup immediately.

They’d certainly like to get a chance at Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, but it’s a dicey proposition hoping to get one of them at No. 11 overall. There’s a good chance the top four passers will go in the first five picks, and if they don’t, there’s still no certainty one of them would slide all the way to Miami’s spot. Even then, the Dolphins would be settling for whoever’s left rather than choosing their guy.

That shifts the attention toward someone like Rudolph or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, either of whom could realistically be available when Miami picks in the second round at No. 42. That still might require trading up, however, as those two could gain momentum over the month leading up to the draft and sneak into the back end of the first round.

The Dolphins met with Rudolph, and he got a good vibe from coach Adam Gase when they spoke.

“A lot of respect for Coach Gase and what he’s done, not only in Miami but at a number of places in the league, and the type of offensive mind guru he is,” Rudolph said. “He’s been with a lot of great quarterbacks and had a lot of success.

“I think a younger guy, for sure, is always fun. You kind of naturally have more connection to someone like that. But like I said, unbelievable offensive mind, very personable.”

Rudolph wasn’t as impressive as the big names in throwing sessions at the Combine, but he still has a lot to offer.

He consistently improved over his four years at Oklahoma State, particularly in his completion percentage, and has the physique and arm strength NFL teams covet. He’s not much of a running threat and clocked a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash, but showed good pocket mobility.

Rudolph is also a proven winner, leading Oklahoma State to a 30-9 record his final three seasons and a No. 14 finish in last year’s national rankings. He went 3-2 against ranked teams last season—the Cowboys scored a total of 83 points in the two losses—and completed 60.4 percent of his passes for an average of 357.8 yards with 15 touchdowns against five interceptions in those games.

He comes from a spread offense with the Cowboys, which can be viewed either way. Some teams have doubts about players like that transitioning to the NFL, but others have implemented elements of the spread into their offense and like the idea of a quarterback who thrives in that style.

“I think you’re definitely starting to see a lot more of those concepts, and the high-tempo type offenses, NFL teams adopting more of that philosophy,” Rudolph said. “Whatever organization I get to, whatever playbook, whatever offense they run, I’ll be excited to learn and to begin to master.”

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