The Miami Dolphins hope to draft a quarterback in the NFL Draft, which runs April 25 to 27. Sources says the team, which has been doing much work on draft-eligible quarterbacks, plans to add at least one before going to training camp in July.
But if there’s no question the team will be adding at least one more quarterback this offseason, the big question is whether that player will come via a premium draft pick — such as in the first round — which would instantly put expectations on that player to eventually be Miami’s starter.
The team has met, studied and worked out practically every quarterback who is first-round candidate, and a team source confirms the most recent of those will be Duke’s Daniel Jones, who is scheduled to work out for the Dolphins this week.
Jones is expected to be a late first- or early second-round selection.
But while there’s no straight answer whether the Dolphins will be adding a top-tier quarterback the night of April 25, what some people forget is the Dolphins have need for a backup quarterback.
The team seriously needs to add competition to the quarterback room because right now unproven Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only backup quarterback options — the weakest backup quarterback options the team have had in years.
So if not a starter, the Dolphins definitely want to upgrade at backup quarterback.
Adding to that spot, by the way, comes with outside hopes that the candidate can maybe practice and play himself into a surprising player later on, maybe even a starter.
So outside the top quarterback names everyone has already circulated — Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Jones — who are the quarterbacks who will be available perhaps as late as Day 3 of the draft?
It’s a long list:
Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, my personal favorite.
West Virginia’s Will Grier.
Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson, who is an imposing figure.
Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, who seems like something of a system quarterback to me.
North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley,
Boise State’s Brett Rypien.
North Dakota State’s Easton Stick.
So let’s clear the runway here because, remember, at minimum the Dolphins are looking for someone who can compete to be the backup.
Stick is a late-round player who is very athletic. But it would be surprising if he’s ready to play at any time during the 2019 season. He’s a project and scouts tell me he’ll be drafted in the sixth to seventh rounds if he goes. That would put him behind even Falk and Rudock on the depth chart.
Minshew seemed destined to transfer from East Carolina to Alabama to be the No. 3 quarterback there last year until he got a chance at Washington State. And he had a great season with 38 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
But his arm strength is average to questionable, his accuracy on deep throws is nowhere near NFL caliber and he’s not super mobile. Another late-round selection.
Jackson, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, is the most imposing quarterback in this draft. But he’s not the most naturally talented for the position. While his arm is very lively and the ball jumps off his hand, his accuracy is not outstanding.
Jackson does have a great makeup, according to scouts, and teammates follow him. The Dolphins have been intrigued with him.
Grier? Highly productive. Very mature. A leader.
But his arm is average. And I’m not sure he can read the whole field — or at least he has not done it in college.
Rypien is very intriguing because if you are familiar with Bill Parcells’s rules for drafting a quarterback, he checks every box.
To recap the rules:
Must be a senior.
Must be a three-year starter.
Must have won at least 23 games in college.
Must have a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Must be a graduate.
Must have had a 60 percent career completion percentage.
I share this working outline for finding good college QBs because Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is a Parcells disciple
Rypien is one of the few quarterbacks in this draft to check all the boxes. North Carolina’s Ryan Finley also checked those boxes.
But Finley and Rypien were teammates at Boise State, and Finley transferred to be the starter at NC State because Rypien was apparently ahead of him at Boise.
So while Finely is a player many scouts like as a mid-round player, Rypien is someone I like more.
That doesn’t mean Rypien, who’s uncle is former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien, is a first- or second-round pick. He’s probably headed to the fifthish (not a word) round.
Why so late? He’s not big. His hands are small compared to top quarterbacks, and in the NFL that leads to strip sacks.
And he doesn’t have his uncle’s arm, either.
Rypien does have great experience. Great poise. Great leadership.
Finley looks more like an NFL quarterback at 6-4. Yes, he’s thin but I’ve heard the Miami Dolphins have food and weights available for that issue.
The problem here is Finley looks the part and played the part against lesser opponents. But if you look at his games against Clemson? That is scary.
Three touchdown passes.
Three losses in three tries.
And, yes, Clemson is elite right now. But the AFC East has better teams than Clemson.
So my favorite not-first-round quarterback in the 2019 draft is Stidham.
Stidham regressed in 2018 compared to 2017. He didn’t play with the same confidence he seemed to have in 2017 when Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. He seemed unsure and expected the worst to happen.
This is troubling because you need the quarterback to rise above adversity and be confident in himself — otherwise how can anyone else be confident in him?
Having said that, Auburn was something of a mess offensively in 2018, from receivers struggling to coaching struggling, to it being an environment that germinated failure.
Amid this environment, Stidham still threw 18 touchdown passes to five interceptions. But his completion percentage was down as was his passing yardage.
As a prospect, he has an NFL arm. He has solid accuracy. He’s not big at 6-2 and 218 but he has NFL size. Stidham, I’m told, had a very good week of practice at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile — better, by the way, than Daniel Jones.
The New England Patriots, according to multiple reports, brought Stidham to their team facility.
And a reminder: We’re not talking about first-round selections. We’re talking players who need coaching and developing. We’re talking backup quarterback candidates.
Because that’s what the Dolphins are looking for if they cannot land a starter.