Armando Salguero

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, full of draft day suggestions, had idea team should try this year

Miami Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase

Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.
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Miami Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, discusses the firing of Head Coach Adam Gase during a press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, FL.

The Miami Dolphins were set to go with their first-round selection of Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2018 when owner Stephen Ross spoke up and implored his football people to do something different.

Ross, who happens to be everyone’s boss, wanted the Dolphins to trade down in the first round rather than pick Fitzpatrick, because he wanted to add picks to Miami’s draft day bounty.

Ross thought it a fair gamble to miss out on Fitzpatrick for the chance to take a first-round pick later and perhaps get another premium pick -- perhaps a second- or third-rounder -- in the process.

And, according to a team source who was in the room, that is when general manager Chris Grier spoke up and said he was definitely picking Fitzpatrick and if that brought consequences from Ross, then so be it.

And aside from relaying what seems like a dramatic moment in recent Dolphins draft history this raises several points worthy of discussion:

1. Grier was his own man at that moment and resisted the ultimate pressure -- directly from his boss -- to do something he didn’t feel was best. That says something about his courage and conviction.

2. Ross has done this before.

3. Expect that this will not be the last time the Dolphins owner suggests an alternate course to what the football people have plotted.

4. Sometimes Ross’s draft day ideas might be better than that of his football people.

Allow me to address these points out of order because, well, I’m just crazy like that:

Since becoming owner in 2009, Ross has had multiple moments in the draft room during which he suggested a different course than what the team ultimately took.

He once suggested to Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland that they select Michigan running back Mike Hart. That idea was discarded.

He wanted the Dolphins to pick Louisiana State offensive lineman La’el Collins in 2015 although the player’s agents told teams Collins would not report if he wasn’t drafted early and there were swirling concerns Collins might be somehow connected to the shooting death of a woman he’d had a relationship with -- concerns which ultimately proved false.

The Dolphins didn’t pick Collins although after the draft they did send some players on a mission to see Collins and try to convince him to sign with Miami.

Throughout the past three years, with Grier, Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase in charge, Ross often sent suggestions and sometimes sent “directives” for the football people to follow, sources said. Those were not limited to the draft.

By the way, Ross might have been on to something a couple of those times.

And the most significant point is history is almost bound to repeat. And you, as a Dolphins fan, should pray that is does this year. Because the Dolphins should be seriously considering in this draft what Ross suggested last year:

Trading down.

The Dolphins are picking No. 13 overall in the first round. And they have seven selections in the draft.

But only three of those picks are what might be considered premium selections: Pick No. 13 overall (1st round), pick No. 48 overall (2nd round) and pick No. 78 overall (3rd round).

The New England Patriots, by contrast, have six picks ... in the first three rounds.

So it might be wise for the Dolphins, a team whose roster is riddled with holes, to add picks.

It might be wise to do what Ross suggested last year, which is trade down from No. 13 and add an extra pick or perhaps two.

And this is where the draft-a-quarterback-or-else gang may balk because if the Dolphins trade down, they likely will be out of position to add a quarterback with a first-round grade.

The quarterbacks with first round grades are, depending on whom you ask, Kyler Murray, Drew Lock and Dwayne Haskins.

Folks that believed Duke’s Daniel Jones would merit a first-round pick are suddenly cooling to that idea. And even Haskins has seemed to slip somewhat.

But think of it ...

The Dolphins could drop to, say, No. 17 overall where the New York Giants are scheduled for the second of their two first-round picks, and add perhaps one or maybe both of New York’s two fourth-round picks.

Or if 2020 continues to be the Miami focus, perhaps Grier can get a 2020 third-round pick from the Giants. Or someone.

The beauty of trading down is the Dolphins might still get a very good pass rusher because this is considered one of the best drafts for pass rushers in years. And, yes, the Dolphins need a couple of pass rushers.

The Dolphins also need help on the offensive line and at cornerback.

So even after a trade down, the team might be able to land Clemson DT Christian Wilkins, or Florida State’s Brian Burns, or Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, or Washington corner Byron Murphy, or Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin, or Mississippi OT Greg Little.

The possibilities seemingly multiply if Miami trades down from No. 13 rather than chase a quarterback at that spot.

Do I believe they should do this? It wouldn’t be wrong.

It depends on what QB is on the board when Miami is on the clock.

But if Stephen Ross is coming with this suggestion on draft night, maybe this time Grier might be wise to agree.

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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.


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