Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins draft yields no quarterback and no hope for a miracle

Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) reacts to a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.
Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) reacts to a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. TNS

There should be no doubt the Miami Dolphins did a great job picking Minkah Fitzpatrick, perhaps one of the best five prospects in this draft, with their No. 11 pick.

There should be no doubt that associate head coach Darren Rizzi and assistant special teams coach Marwan Maalouf will get their hands on rookie kicker Jason Sanders and his ordinary college field goal percentage (71.4 percent for his career and a troubling 66.7 percent last season) and will fix whatever is wrong because these two do that about as well as anyone in the NFL.

So no immediate worry there.

I'm even going out on a very thin branch of the trust tree and tell you the Dolphins passing on University of Miami receiver Braxton Berrios in the sixth round in order to pick cornerback Cornell Armstrong probably won't look terrible in the years to come. I say this even though the New England Patriots selected Berrios one pick after Miami passed on him.

But all this faith, trust and comfort with what the Dolphins did during the 2018 NFL draft stops at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins didn't pick one the first day, which is fine. But then they didn't pick one on the second day. Or the third day.

And a team that did enough homework to come out of this draft with a quarterback who might challenge Ryan Tannehill for his job in the coming years, retreated to a position where they're not even armed with a quarterback capable of challenging backups Brock Osweiler and David Fales.

And this makes me uneasy. It's a bad look. And it's not visionary.

The decision not to draft a quarterback who could perhaps-maybe-hopefully be a player someday obviously says the Dolphins weren't all that concerned about the future of the quarterback position. It's Tannehill starting, which we've all known, for 2018.

But not picking a quarterback also affects the spots beyond Tannehill as we saw last year.

Remember, last year the Dolphins were confident Tannehill was healed from his 2016 ACL tear. There was such certainty that Tannehill would roll his eyes skyward each time he was asked about the knee. Coach Adam Gase started mocking people asking about Tannehill's progress.

And then the re-injury or new injury or whatever you want to call that thing that crashed the team's season happened during an otherwise routine training camp practice in August. Tannehill went down with another ACL injury and that was it for 2018 because the team had no miracles to offer to rescue the season.

Backup Matt Moore couldn't stay healthy. Mercenary Jay Cutler sucked the air out of the franchise and $10 million out of the salary cap. And Miami had nothing else.

So in this draft, with the Dolphins still needing a quarterback who might be a factor in the future, conducted themselves much as they have in the past. No quarterback.

The division rival New York Jets, meanwhile, drafted a quarterback.

The division rival Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, drafted a quarterback.

Even the perpetual division champion New England Patriots drafted a quarterback.

And, I get it, the Jets and Bills needed a starter and no one knows if the guys they got will be any good. And the Patriots took LSU's Danny Etling in the seventh round, which is basically like throwing up a prayer.

But the point is those teams did work at the most important position in the sport.

The Dolphins, who did as much or more quarterback due diligence as anyone, came away with no one. And thus the Dolphins came away with no chance of corralling a bolt of lightning -- improbable as it might seem -- with a draft investment on a quarterback even late in the draft.

"We weren't going to reach for any player," general manager Chris Grier said. "Once you got through the first round with those five quarterbacks, we thought there's a little bit of an order. As they started to come off the board, we were in position to get a couple and as it always is in the draft, a couple went before we picked.

"We weren't going to reach for anyone at that point in the draft. There were some players we liked, but we ended up getting some players we think will help us now."

This, by the way, is a consensus approach because executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum picked up where Grier stopped.

"Just to add to that, the two other players behind Tannehill are guys that are young, probably younger than they're perceived to be," he said. "So we think their best days, they still have playing time to get developed, they're not older, so that was also a factor."

That means the Dolphins today are comfortable with Osweiler or Fales perhaps doing something in the future they've never done in the past.

It means the Dolphins are comfortable handing the franchise over to Osweiler or Fales if Tannehill is hurt at any point in 2018. And beyond that, if a catastrophic injury befalls Tannehill for the third consecutive year, the Dolphins today feel good about Osweiler or Fales or some unnamed veteran signed in a panic taking the reins of the offense.

One can argue that's not a terrible plan. One can argue that plan is no worse than drafting a quarterback in the fourth, fifth, or sixth round and hoping that guy can save any given season if Tannehill goes down.

So the Dolphins could conceivably dismiss such a suggestion.

Except that's exactly what happened when the Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round and he saved their season in 2016. Thats what happened when the Seattle Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson in the 2012 third round and he eventually helped them win a Super Bowl. That's exactly what happened when the Patriots drafted Tom Brady in the 2000 sixth round and a year later he saved the franchise.

Mark Rypien was drafted in the sixth round of the 1986 draft by the Washington Redskins. In 1991 he led them to a Super Bowl championship and was the game's MVP.

I'm not suggesting the Cowboys, Seahawks, Patriots or Redskins made those late quarterback picks knowing they would lead to great moments. I am suggesting not picking a quarterback at all in a draft guarantees a team won't enjoy such a moment.

The Dolphins this draft made themselves such a guarantee.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero
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