But there’s an increasingly likely scenario that the Dolphins have to be prepared for on Thursday during the first round of the draft: Their top realistic quarterback prospect (after Kyler Murray) could fall within a few spots or possibly fall to their No. 13 selection. Will Miami draft him (likely Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock) or pass because he’s not worthy of being their franchise quarterback?
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier will have final say on that decision, and the pressure is on Grier and his staff to resist the temptation to settle on a quarterback whom they like but don’t love.
“The pressure is self-imposed,” Grier said. “I would like every pick to work and everyone saying how great of a job you do. But it’s going to happen — you’re going to miss on guys and get criticized. At the end of the day, when you build through the draft, it’s important. … Mistakes are inevitably going to happen, but you want to try to limit to maybe one a draft or something like that.”
And that one mistake can’t be at quarterback.
Many NFL franchises have been set back several years because of a poor draft selection at the game’s most important position. It’s nearly impossible to win a championship without a good one. And there lies the dilemma of the rebuilding Dolphins — maybe the NFL’s most quarterback-needy team — drafting from a QB class with so much uncertainty after Murray, the potential No. 1 overall pick.
When asked if he sees any potential franchise quarterbacks in the 2019 class, Grier hesitated, and said, “Umm, there could be.” He then described how much risk there is in drafting first-round quarterbacks, particularly those who have so little starting experience in college — such as Haskins (he started only 14 games at Ohio State).
“Quarterbacks have been so hit-and-miss. If you study them, 50 percent or less end up becoming even good starting quarterbacks. So it’s hard to say,” Grier said. “But every class has one or two quarterbacks who become a good player in the league.
Dwayne Haskins is a gifted pocket passer out of Ohio State with good arm strength.
“This is a good class of quarterbacks. I would say that, again, like all of them, this class probably has some players that haven’t started as many games as you would like to see in terms of helping paint the picture for what they could be, so it’s a little more projection on a lot of them.”
If you read the tea leaves from Grier and the Dolphins throughout this offseason, one would glean that Miami isn’t in “love” with any of the non-Murray quarterbacks in this draft.
Veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Dolphins’ current starting quarterback. Despite his colorful personality and strong locker room presence, the Dolphins cannot be taken seriously as a playoff contender until they draft a true franchise quarterback.
The temptation of nabbing a highly touted quarterback in the first round, and selling hope to a fan base that desperately wants a star to root for, is tantalizing. And the blowback of passing on one might be heavy, too.
With a newly drafted first-round quarterback, interest in the team would increase. What looks like an arduous multiyear rebuild would have a bright, marketable face at QB to get everyone through the dark days. Locker room morale likely would go up and new coach Brian Flores would have even stronger ground to stand on as he tries to build a winning culture in Miami. Haskins and Lock might even be good enough to be long-term starters.
Drew Lock has ideal size and athleticism and speed with a big-time arm and a smooth delivery.
But if Grier and the Dolphins don’t believe either can bring a championship to Miami, they should resist the “self-imposed” pressure to draft one of them.
The Dolphins spent the past few seasons settling at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill. That time should be over under Grier and Flores. The Dolphins need to be sure their next franchise leader under center will be a home run.
If Miami doesn’t love either Haskins or Lock, it should pass on both in the first round, select a quarterback in the middle rounds and try again in the 2020 draft, in which the QB crop is expected to be better. Oh, and by the way, this draft is rich in offensive and defensive linemen, positions that fill Miami’s No. 2 and No. 3 needs.
The sexy pick isn’t always the right pick. If Grier is even slightly hesitant to go all-in on one of this draft’s premier quarterbacks, he should resist the temptation to settle.