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.

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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.

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Stocked at quarterback, Miami Dolphins move on from Brandon Doughty

Brandon Doughty is a free agent. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Stocked at quarterback, Miami Dolphins move on from Brandon Doughty

The Dolphins placed Brandon Doughty on waivers today, ending his two-year run as their practice squad quarterback. The move frees up Doughty to look elsewhere for playing time, which appeared unlikely with Miami.

Doughty, 26, was the team’s seventh-round draft pick in 2016 and never made it onto the active roster.

When Ryan Tannehill went down in 2016, the Dolphins brought in free agent T.J. Yates as the backup to Matt Moore. When they needed an emergency option again last year, they called David Fales.

Going into the upcoming season, the team has Tannehill entrenched as the starter with Fales and recently signed Brock Osweiler competing to be his backup. Fales appears to be the frontrunner for that spot, and Osweiler, despite his struggles, has played in 42 career games.

It’s also possible Miami will draft a quarterback in one of the higher rounds this year.

That setup wouldn’t have left much of an opportunity for Doughty, and given the timing of this move, it has the appearance that he wanted to be turned loose to find another team.

Doughty has one season remaining of practice squad eligibility.

In four preseason games last year, he had two touchdown passes against two interceptions and completed 19 of 40 attempts for 263 yards. He played extensively in the final game at Minnesota, completing 8 of 17 throws for 106 yards.

Doughty was a South Florida kid who grew up rooting for the Dolphins and played at North Broward Prep. He started three years at Western Kentucky and earned back-to-back Conference USA MVP honors before being drafted.

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2018 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper explains Dolphins’ quarterback options

Would the Dolphins spend a pick on Kyle Lauletta? (Getty Images)

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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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 free agents: Miami Dolphins sign QB Brock Osweiler

Brock Osweiler’s wayward career will continue with the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins continue to tinker with their quarterback situation and have added Brock Osweiler to the mix by signing him today.

Osweiler had a decent run as Peyton Manning’s backup with the Broncos in 2015, when they won the Super Bowl, but has been a disaster since. The quarterback-starved Texans signed him to a four-year, $72 million contract coming off that season, and he threw 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for them in 2016.

Houston couldn’t unload him fast enough, stapling a second-round pick to Osweiler in a trade with Cleveland last offseason. He did not make the Browns’ roster and landed back in Denver as a backup.

Over the last two seasons, Osweiler has completed 58.2 percent of his passes, thrown 20 touchdowns against 21 interceptions and averaged 192.6 yards over 21 games. He has a passer rating of 72.3 during that span, the lowest by any player with at least 500 attempts.

The upside with Osweiler, 27, is that Miami coach Adam Gase has a clearer picture than most of what he could be. He played under Gase in Denver from 2012 through ’14 before Gase went to the Bears as offensive coordinator.

Osweiler is 6-foot-7, 240 pounds and originally set out as a basketball player. He committed to Gonzaga in high school, but eventually went to Arizona State as a quarterback. The Broncos drafted him No. 57 overall in 2012.

While the Dolphins are going into the upcoming season with Ryan Tannehill has their unquestioned starter, everything behind him is up for debate. Osweiler joins journeyman David Fales and practice squad player Brandon Doughty as the quarterbacks currently on the roster.

Miami is also considering drafting a quarterback in next month’s NFL Draft. The team selects No. 11 overall and is unlikely to be able to land one of the top four prospects that late, but could pick from the second tier of quarterbacks at No. 42 in the second round.

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QB Brock Osweiler has struggled, so should the Miami Dolphins bother signing him?

Brock Osweiler calls signals for the Texans against the Patriots in January 2017. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

If there’s one team that ought to know the importance of a dependable backup quarterback, it’s the Dolphins, which explains why free agent Brock Osweiler is visiting Davie.

The Dolphins are bringing back David Fales, potentially to back up Ryan Tannehill, and also have practice squad player Brandon Doughty, but they’re testing Osweiler to see if the ex-Bronco could raise the level of confidence in the team’s tenuous position.

Osweiler gets his foot in the door because of his connection to coach Adam Gase, from Gase’s time as Denver’s offensive coordinator and QB coach.

Osweiler is expendable in John Elway’s eyes because the Broncos landed Case Keenum as starter, but there’s more to it.

Osweiler’s stock peaked in 2015 on the strength of eight quality games with the Broncos, which landed him a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. Which is about where this story takes a major turn, raising questions that should make the Dolphins take a hard look before offering a contract.


‘Suffice to say, the Texans free-agency splurge for Brock Osweiler might go down as one of the worst in NFL history.’ — headline in The Houston Chronicle last March


“Suffice to say, the Texans free-agency splurge for Brock Osweiler might go down as one of the worst in NFL history.” That was the headline in The Houston Chronicle last March when he was about to be shipped to Cleveland largely for cap relief. The story went on to compare Osweiler to Albert Haynesworth among the great free-agent busts.

Things actually got worse. The Browns, it turned out, didn’t have any use for him, either, so he spent the 2017 season back in Denver, appearing in six games, completing just 55.8 percent with five touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 72.5.

Perspective on 72.5: He has to look up — way up — just to see Jay Cutler’s 80.8 last season.

More perspective on 72.5: It’s who he is. In 42 career games, Osweiler’s career rating is 76.5.

Would Osweiler represent an improvement to the QB corps? The Dolphins seem likely to move on from Matt Moore even though Moore had a better rating last season (75.6) and for his career (81.2). He’s more accurate, has a better TD-to-interception ratio and averages nearly a yard more per completion at 7.1.

But Moore is 33 years old, so it’s understandable if the Dolphins want to make a change at No. 2. What might have been more understandable is if they’d made that change last summer. Think about it: Last year we knew Tannehill’s knee was an iffy proposition, and the minute he went down in preseason, Gase was calling Cutler, which tells you he didn’t trust Moore with the keys to the team for an entire season.

That being so, why had everything been banked on Tannehill’s knee holding up? If the backup QB can’t be trusted to see extensive action, why have him as the backup QB?

The Cutler move cost the Dolphins $10 million in cap space that could have been carried over into this year. It may have been the best they could do in scrambling mode, but the return on the investment was 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an 80.8 rating — Moore-like numbers.

Back in September 2016, there were smiles when Osweiler made his Texans debut, leading a 23-14 win over the Bears with 231 yards and two TD passes. It went downhill from there. He never had a 300-yard game with the Texans. Only four times did he walk off the field as a Texan without throwing an interception. Late that season, he was benched in favor of Tom Savage, only to reclaim the job when Savage suffered a concussion.

One Sunday night, NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said on air, “Every week we watch tape on the Texans and Brock Osweiler. I’m trying to find every reason not to say that he’s a terrible football player.”

OK, that’s harsh. He landed that monster contract by performing capably enough with the Broncos, so it made sense to return to his safe haven. Elway hoped to get him back on track, saying “a little football rehab” was required, and it would not have been a shock if it had worked.

Even after going 0-4 in limited starts in 2017, Osweiler said he hoped to finish his career in Denver. Now that it’s Keenum’s era, those plans are changing. And once again, Gase could reunite from someone from a previous stop, just as he has with assistants Dowell Loggains and Eric Studesville, plus Cutler and tight end Julius Thomas.

Maybe Osweiler will be signed, maybe not. But if he is, just remember there still are no guarantees regarding Tannehill’s knee, meaning a decision slightly under the radar in March could become anything but minor again this fall.

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Dolphins Ryan Tannehill just one NFL quarterback with something to prove in 2016

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) drops back to pass against the Patriots (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) drops back to pass against the Patriots (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Ryan Tannehill is entering his fifth season as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback and, despite back-to-back 4,000 yard seasons, Tannehill enters the 2016 season with something to prove. Tannehill has yet to lead his team to the playoffs and has yet to take the leap that several experts have expected him to take. With a restocked offensive line playing in front of him, quarterback whisperer Adam Gase calling the plays and Jarvis Landry running routes, this year is shaping up to be the year where Tannehill proves whether he is the long-term option at quarterback for the franchise.

Other quarterbacks in the NFL who are entering the 2016 season with something to prove include:

Matt Stafford:

The 28-year-old veteran has thrown for over 4,250 yard in each of the last five seasons, collecting a three year, $53 million contract along the way. In 2011, Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns and, more recently, he posted 32 touchdown and 13 interception season in 2015.

Though his numbers have been impressive, Stafford will have to deal with the departure of his primary target Calvin Johnson, who retired following last season at the age of 30. Johnson accounted for over 30 percent of Stafford’s career passing yards and touchdowns. 2016 will be an opportunity for him to prove that he can sustain his success without Johnson.

Brock Osweiler:

After a breakout year of sorts filling in for Peyton Manning, Osweiler turned his seven starts for the Broncos into a four year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. Osweiler threw for 1,967 yards, completing 61.8 percent of his passes and throwing 10 touchdowns while helping lead the Broncos to Super Bowl 50.

Though he hadn’t started a game until this year, the 25-year-old was given a sizable contract and a starting spot. The former second-round pick will need to perform up to his contract in 2016 to prove that last season was not a fluke.

Jared Goff:

Anytime a quarterback is selected with the first pick in the draft, he enters his rookie season with something to prove. Add in the fact that Goff was drafted to a franchise that moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in the offseason, and all eyes will be on the former California Golden Bear.

Goff was drafted with the intention of him becoming a franchise quarterback and he will likely start at some point in his first season, making 2016 an opportunity for Goff to capture the imagination of post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles.

Colin Kaepernick:

Things got ugly for Kaepernick in 2015 as the 28-year-old started only eight games for the 49ers, completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,615 yards, six touchdown and five interceptions. Just a few years removed from reaching the Super Bowl with Kaepernick under center, the 49ers flirted with the idea of moving Kaepernick this offseason, but ultimately decided to keep him.

It’s unclear whether the Chip Kelly reign in San Francisco will begin with Kaepernick as the starting quarterback but, if it does, he will have plenty to prove. He ended last season on injured reserve and will being playing for his future in San Francisco in 2016.