A day awash in rumors about running back Todd Gurley and war room high-fives over the selection of receiver DeVante Parker was not mostly about either player.
The Miami Dolphins on Thursday were, in truth, pondering and making moves to help quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
This was all about Tannehill.
Parker is apparently the final big addition to a wide receiver room that has been totally recast this offseason to fit the salary cap — sure — but to also to fit Tannehill’s skill set.
General manager Dennis Hickey said Parker, 6-3 and 209 pounds, has size, length, body control, is very athletic and should become a “great red zone target.”
In other words, everything Tannehill needs.
The Miami receivers last year were not small by any definition but neither were they long by NFL standards. Parker is that, which should help a quarterback that needs a battery mate that has a wide catch radius because sometimes his accuracy betrays him.
That’s not a knock on Tannehill. The Miami quarterback has worked to improve his accuracy every year, and the statistical results are evident.
He has improved his completion percentage from 58 to 60 to 66 percent the past three years.
But the truth is inarguable. We’ve all seen the slant passes thrown behind receivers or the deep passes thrown too far or too short.
So a new receiver with the wingspan of a pterodactyl helps.
“I’m a big, strong, physical wide receiver,” Parker said. “Run after catches is probably my best attribute that I have. I can get up the field.”
The Dolphins have been studying Parker for a long time. When he visited the team a couple of weeks ago, “they treated me like I was already a part of the team,” he said.
And when he slipped past Cleveland at No.12 and New Orleans at No.13, the Miami war room erupted in high-fives, Hickey said, because he would indeed become part of the team.
The Dolphins even had trade-down offers when they were on the clock which “were very interesting,” according to owner Stephen Ross.
But that would risk losing Parker. And the Dolphins were not willing to do that.
Only minutes before the team had lost out on Gurley, and the mood was almost somber. That’s when the St. Louis Rams, picking 10th overall in the first round and needing offensive line and wide receiver help, picked Gurley.
The Dolphins wanted Gurley.
Ross wanted Gurley.
“Who wouldn’t want Todd Gurley?” Ross said. “Of course, I wanted Todd Gurley. But I also wanted DeVante Parker. If both Gurley and Parker had been there that would have been an interesting conversation.
“But I’m happy we got one of them.”
The Dolphins’ love for Gurley was undeniable and understandable because the running back is a top 5-7 talent who was threatening to drop to Miami because he sustained a major knee injury at Georgia last November.
The injury, significant as it was, only cost Gurley a couple of slots in the draft. That’s how good the Rams think he is. And nobody is disagreeing.
And how, you might ask, would an elite running back be help for Tannehill?
Are you serious?
A team facing a healthy Gurley cannot easily drop seven and sometimes even eight defenders into coverage. A team facing Gurley has to worry about the home run play coming via the run as well as the pass.
If Gurley had been on the Dolphins, suddenly Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan have to worry about stopping a more complete and dangerous offense instead of mostly stopping Tannehill’s passing game.
That won’t happen now. The Dolphins offense has committed enormous resources this offseason to passing the ball. That is trebled by the fact the Dolphins on Thursday exercised a fifth-year contract option on Tannehill.
The quarterback is for all intents signed through the 2016 season, and the Dolphins continue to negotiate with his representation to come to agreement on a long-term deal.
So Tannehill is the present and the future for the Dolphins.
And that is why this draft night was about helping him, about making him better.
This draft night was about him.