It’s that time of year around the NFL when teams go into their bunkers to figure out their free agency and draft plans and the media goes into speculation mode. (Hey, at least someone is honest about it).
And one of the most popular speculation exercises around the league is the mock draft. Yeah, too early you say, because the Combine isn’t until later this month?
Yeah, well, I decide what’s too early and what isn’t. Plus, I’m easing my way back into this writing thing after freezing my bones at the Super Bowl. So today I share with you a partial first-round mock, authored by my friend Geoff Hobson over at Bengals.com that is not exactly complete but quite interesting for our purposes.
This mock runs only 12 positions because the Bengals pick No. 12 in the first round this year. And as Hobson is working for Bengals fans, that’s how far his work went.
But the reason it could be of interest to you is the Dolphins pick No. 11. And so this mock includes the Dolphins and all the teams picking ahead of them.
And this mock is done with the help of top journalists in each of the 11 markets that pick before the Bengals — people who generally know what their teams are likely to do. This is where I remind you last year I hit on the Dolphins first-round selection Charles Harris. And third-round selection Cordrea Tankersley.
So what happened in this semi-enlightened early mock draft?
The Dolphins get Baker Mayfield in the first round.
That is surprising to me for multiple reasons but first the actual mock. …
1. Cleveland — QB Sam Darnold (as selected by Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com).
2. New York Giants — QB Josh Rosen (as selected by Mike Eisen of Giants.com).
3. Indianapolis — DE Bradley Chubb (as selected by Mike Chappell of FOX59.com).
4. Cleveland — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (as selected by Grossi).
5. Denver — RB Saquon Barkley (as selected by Mike Klis of 9News).
6. New York Jets — QB Josh Allen (as selected by Rich Cimini of ESPN.com).
7. Tampa Bay Bucs — OG Quenton Nelson (as selected by Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com).
8. Chicago Bears — OLB Tremaine Edmunds (as selected by Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune).
The 49ers and Raiders will have a coin flip later this month to decide which team picks ninth and which picks 10th. For our purposes we go with San Francisco first.
9. San Francisco — CB Denzel Ward (as selected by Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com).
10. Oakland — OLB Roquan Smith (as selected by Scott Bair of NBCSportsBayArea.com).
11. Miami — Mayfield, as selected by Salguero.
WHAT THIS MEANS
First, if the actual draft plays out anything like this one, the Dolphins are likely to get (or should get) a good player at No. 11. And Mayfield could be available to them, which many people have been doubting.
My reasoning for picking Mayfield is simple. I like Edmunds, but he’s gone to the Bears. I like Smith, whom the Dolphins really like. But he went one pick before to the Raiders.
So I’m kind of stuck. I like safety Derwin James of FSU, but the Dolphins have committed a lot of money and resources to the position already with Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald. So that boxes me in.
I’m sure you draft experts out there will come up with picks you think are better, like a guard. Feel free to share those in the comments section.
But I think Mayfield is a big talent. He plays the game’s premier position. He comes along at a time when the Dolphins need to upgrade the position. So I went with him.
AND HERE IS SOME NEWS
If anyone is fretting this would upset Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, that is not correct. Obviously drafting a quarterback in the first round sends a message that there will be competition for the spot in the years ahead.
But it doesn’t mean Tannehill is out by any means.
Tannehill, I’m told by a source, will be perfectly fine with the Dolphins picking a quarterback. The Dolphins, I am told by a source, are not worried that Tannehill will be worried.
So, no worries.
THE REASONS THIS MAKES SENSE
Did you watch the Super Bowl? Did you watch the playoffs? Did you watch the Dolphins’ 2017 season? Did you watch any of the NFL season?
Backup quarterbacks are not a luxury. They are a necessity.
Picking Mayfield to be the backup quarterback fills a need for Miami. He replaces Matt Moore as the backup.
As to the position’s importance, the Dolphins were left scrambling for a backup who could become the starter when Tannehill went down. The team knew Moore couldn’t play 16 games so fans got the Jay Cutler experience.
If Mayfield is the pick, he is the answer to the question: Who replaces Tannehill if he’s injured a third consecutive season?
Backup quarterbacks played a key role around the NFL in 2017. A backup quarterback won the Super Bowl in Philadelphia.
A backup quarterback took the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
The Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Dolphins had their seasons demolished when the starting quarterback went down with an injury.
So, backup quarterback is not a luxury anymore, folks.
THE CASE AGAINST MAYFIELD
Look, that’s not the purpose of this post. There will be other posts studying Mayfield and investigating his play as well as off-field issues. That’s not this post.
I will leave you with this from Mayfield himself:
“People will have their guesses and their opinions on my character, but anyone that’s actually sat down and talked to me knows that I don’t have any character issues, any off-the-field issues,” Mayfield said last month after being named the Manning Award winner.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero