Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins QB search makes more sense in a draft spot few are expecting

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk has gotten the attention of the Miami Dolphins.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk has gotten the attention of the Miami Dolphins. AP

Depending on what day you picked up the print version of the newspaper in the past week, the Miami Dolphins are trading up to draft one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft. Or Adam Gase has fallen in love with Baker Mayfield. Wait, no, Gase has actually fallen in love with Josh Rosen.

Wait …

Nope, the Dolphins are so in love with Ryan Tannehill that they don’t need a quarterback at all.

Please, stop. Breathe.

And let us reason together about what the Dolphins are doing and saying behind the scenes, which might actually bring sense to an increasingly complex set of draft possibilities.

The Dolphins on Wednesday released Brandon Doughty. And while on the surface that seems to be merely a back-of-the-roster move with a player who didn’t advance enough the past two years to merit further work, it is actually more than that.

Doughty is the only quarterback the Dolphins have drafted since Tannehill was taken in 2012. Doughty was selected in the seventh round in 2016. And he served a purpose in that he was an able camp arm.

But this offseason the Dolphins realize they need to upgrade the quarterback room with more than just a young camp arm.

The Dolphins have three quarterbacks on the roster now — Tannehill, Brock Osweiler and David Fales. They typically take four quarterbacks into training camp.

So the team is signaling its intention to add another quarterback between now and training camp. It will happen.

And everything I’ve been told suggests that quarterback will come in the draft.

But here’s the thing: Thinking Rosen, Mayfield, Josh Allen or Sam Darnold will be a Dolphin by the time April ends is a stretch because the draft includes other teams. And those other teams are much better-situated than Miami to pick one of those top guys.

The Dolphins know this. That’s the reason I was told last week that the Dolphins aren’t thinking any of the men named in the previous paragraph will be available when they pick at No. 11.

Well, what about moving up?

The Giants are reportedly open for business, meaning they’re willing to listen to offers for the No. 2 overall selection. Indianapolis, which already traded down from No. 3 overall to No. 6, might be willing to move further back.

So maybe the Dolphins are getting ready to make the second pick in the draft!

This fanciful stuff is fun to ponder and generates clicks, but please consider the facts.

The Dolphins do not have the draft capital to get way higher unless they’re willing to give up their first-round pick this year, their second this year, and a future first-round pick. Simple as that.

The value of Miami’s first-round pick, according to the draft trade value chart, is 1,250 points. The Giants occupy a slot in the first round valued at 2,200 points. That’s a difference of 950 points.

The entire value of this Dolphins draft, all eight selections, is 2,114.4 points.

So even if the Dolphins were to agree to give the Giants their first-round selection and every other selection in this draft they own — No. 42 overall, No. 73, No. 123, No. 131, No. 209, No. 227 and No. 229 — the math falls short for Miami.

The Dolphins would have to give up their entire 2018 draft and still have to add something else to get to No. 2. It is not happening, folks.

The highest the Dolphins could climb by trading picks is perhaps Denver at No. 5, but more likely will be Indianapolis at No. 6.

The Dolphins giving the Colts their first- and second-round pick for the chance to move to No. 6 meets the mathematical requirement of the draft trade value chart.

But here’s the problem with this.

A trade such as this cannot be considered in a vacuum. It has to be thought out taking multiple complex scenarios into consideration.

Sure, the Dolphins might be mathematically able to get to No. 6. But what happens if Buffalo, who absolutely wants a quarterback and has the ammunition (two first-round picks, two second-round picks) to vault past Miami, moves to No. 2 overall?

Then Cleveland picks a QB first, Buffalo picks a QB second, the New York Jets pick a quarterback third, and suddenly the Dolphins at No. 6 have no more draft capital with which to move, and have to sweat out two picks at No. 4 and No. 5 to maybe land a QB whom Gase may or may not love because what he’s going to get is the leftover guy.

This scenario doesn’t work at all before the draft. Maybe on draft day, if the Colts are on the clock at No. 6 and the QB the Dolphins value is there, the consideration is made in the Miami draft room. But not beforehand.

But even all that happening just right doesn’t clear all the hurdles. Because what exactly are we talking about here? The Dolphins would be selling their entire draft and perhaps a high pick next year for … a backup.

The team is committed fiscally — and according to everything they've said for months — to Ryan Tannehill for 2018. Gase on multiple occasions named Tannehill the starter for ’18.

So moving up, selling off most of the draft this year and high picks next year, would bring them a player who isn’t likely to help the team right away.

You know what that is? A formula for Gase, Chris Grier and Mike Tannenbaum to get fired.

I seriously doubt they’re cooking up their own demise like this.

No, the more measured and probable approach for the Dolphins landing a quarterback is not about the first round — at least not at No. 11 or higher.

The more logical and probable approach is the Dolphins picking the best player available at No. 11 at a position where that first-rounder can start right away and contribute to 2018 success. The Dolphins are wide open at outside linebacker, defensive tackle, tight end and possibly at offensive tackle (that explanation for another day).

And after that instant help comes to the roster in the first round, the Dolphins can circle back to the quarterback class perhaps in the second or third round and pluck a backup QB with potential then.

The Dolphins have done a lot of work with Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, according to sources, and he is visiting with the team next week. There are other promising quarterbacks in the draft such as Lamar Jackson (my personal favorite), Mason Rudolph and others.

The truth of the matter is picking a quarterback anytime in the draft is a gamble and how high he’s picked only mitigates the risk slightly. But the NFL is dotted with starting quarterbacks picked after the first round — Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo — that all suggest a good player can be found outside the first round.

The Dolphins know this. They see it. They understand it.

And they are in a position that screams going this route if they can identify the right QB beyond the top four of Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield and Allen.

Obviously, there’s a trade-down scenario in which the Dolphins can move down from No. 11, earn an extra pick in the second round perhaps and draft their backup quarterback late in the first as well as get a starter in the second. But that gets too far into the weeds.

The point is that trading up from No. 11 using only draft capital is almost asinine to consider, given the cost, the Dolphins’ current roster needs, the team’s current QB talent, and the pressure on the brass to win now.

But getting that quarterback later, perhaps in the second round, after picking a starter at another position in the first round, seems much more palatable.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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