Midway through Wednesday’s annual pre-draft news conference, Chris Grier might have given away the game.
The question from an ESPN reporter was straight-forward:
Do you see any potential franchise quarterbacks in this year’s draft?
“Uhh...” Grier responded, his change in voice inflection suggesting a lack of conviction, “there could be.”
“But quarterbacks are so hit or miss,” the Dolphins’ general manager continued. “If you go study them, it’s about 50 percent or less end up becoming even good starting quarterbacks. But every class has one or two good quarterbacks that become good players in the league.”
This is the point in the story when we remind you that, a week out from the draft, smart people believe half of what they read and almost none of what they hear.
Why? Teams have next to no incentive to tell the truth.
Any information that gets out is information competing teams can use against them.
But if Grier was acting Wednesday, give the man an Oscar now.
Because his reaction to the question seemed natural — and convincing.
So if you’re hoping for the Dolphins to finally land their QB 1 with the 13th pick in next Thursday’s draft, brace yourself for disappointment.
Instead, remember what the plan probably has been all along: Build the trenches on both sides of the ball in a draft that is top-heavy on the defensive side and deep on the other.
Five defensive linemen have elite grades on the Dolphins’ draft board, and while Grier did not name them, we can probably figure them out.
Before Daniel Jeremiah was an analyst for NFL Network, he was a scout for seven years in the league. He has a keen eye for talent and a thick Rolodex of contacts throughout the league.
In Jeremiah’s most recent big board of top 50 draft prospects, the top four players are all defensive linemen: Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Houston’s Ed Oliver.
Safe to assume that those four players are high on the Dolphins’ board too.
So who is the fifth elite defensive lineman? Jeremiah ranks Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins his seventh overall player, Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary at 10 and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat 12th.
Meanwhile, not a single quarterback is in Jeremiah’s top 10. Kyler Murray, who might be the top pick in the draft, is Jeremiah’s 11th-ranked prospect, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins is 21st and Drew Lock is 24th.
The Dolphins, of course, have done their due diligence on all of these quarterbacks. They met privately with Murray at the NFL Scouting Combine and sent a contingent to his pro day.
Haskins worked out privately for the Dolphins, as did Duke’s Daniel Jones. And Lock spent time with Dan Marino at the Senior Bowl.
But Grier knows that he probably has one chance to get the quarterback position right. He even acknowledged feeling some pressure to nail this draft.
So if he isn’t sold on any of the available quarterbacks in not just the first round, but the first two days, expect him to pass.
“We’re not going to reach for one just to take one,” Grier said. “Then you’re passing on a player just for a need at that point. At that point, if you’re reaching in the third round, you could be passing on a guy who could be your starting tackle and you hurt your franchise.”
The story was different in 2018, when the Dolphins owned the 11th pick. Grier acknowledged Wednesday that two quarterbacks in last year’s class — widely believed to be Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen — “were really special.” They simply were out of Miami’s reach.
Perhaps Grier feels that way about one or two quarterbacks this year, and he simply has the world’s best poker face.
“I think this class is a good class of quarterbacks,” he said. “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 of what they could be on a lot of them, so it’s a little more projection, but I would say overall it’s a good quarterback class.”
Good, but not great.
Next year could be great.
And that’s why the smart money is on the Dolphins waiting until then to draft one in the first round.