The Dolphins, still flush with glee after making a splash in the NFL draft’s first round on Thursday, started the second day of the selection process wanting more.
Sure, they wanted to add more talent and they did that with the selection of cornerback Xavien Howard from Baylor. Howard is good, the team believes, because he’s 6-foot, has long arms, can press as if he’s an iron, had college production and plays with swagger.
That’s all good stuff. The Dolphins are happy with that.
But the Dolphins really, really, really wanted to do better than that.
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They wanted to follow the shocking selection of offensive guard Laremy Tunsil with what would have been an electric and controversial pick in the second round.
The Dolphins wanted UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
No, they didn’t want Jack because it would have been a head-turning pick. The Dolphins had enough headlines with Tunsil, thanks very much.
They wanted Jack because it would have been a thunder clap pick that would have shaken all of South Florida. Picking Jack would have been a tremendous gamble, sure, but it also would’ve come with the potential to bring a transformational player to the team.
And Jack might not have been just a transformational addition. He might have been their second potentially transformational pick in two days.
“I have something up my sleeve,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross crowed as he walked through the lobby of the team’s training facility before heading upstairs to the so-called war room.
Who knew the 6-foot-1 and 230-pound linebacker who runs like a deer, can cover receivers as well as running backs and tight ends, and made plays in bunches while in Westwood, was up the real estate mogul’s sleeve.
But the idea of getting him definitely was. The Dolphins wanted Jack so badly they tried to trade up multiple times to get in position to pick Jack.
“We tried — a lot,” a club source texted me.
I wanted to return the text with a sad face emoji.
Myles Jack went to the Jacksonville Jaguars instead when they traded up to get him. And, admittedly, there is no certainty Jack will be as great in the NFL as he was in college.
There is no certainty Jack will even be playing in five years from now because the reports and rumors about his left knee being “a time bomb” and unstable and bone on bone in a few years have some truth to them.
Every team knew this. The Dolphins knew this.
But knowing this, the Jaguars were willing to bet they could milk three, four, maybe five years out of Jack. The Dolphins had similar convictions.
And getting one contract out of a player like that seemed worth the risk. Maybe the Dolphins wouldn’t have gotten a star because stars typically come with longevity. But they might have gotten fiery flaming meteor roaming sideline to sideline for their defense.
So what does this mean?
Should you be disappointed? Should you look at Howard smugly and scoff he isn’t much because he isn’t Myles Jack? Should you believe the Miami draft brain trust failed because they fell two picks short of getting their guy?
That would be a mistake.
The attempt for Jack was a swing for the fences. It was a try to turn this draft (potentially) into one for the ages.
But that attempt had to come with discipline and the Dolphins can say they showed that. Look, picking a player with medical red flags is a gamble. Trading up to pick a player with medical red flags is a gamble that too often fails.
Giving away the farm to move up and pick a player with medical red flags is nuts.
The Dolphins were crazy for Jack. But they didn’t do a crazy thing.
“We were active today, I’ll just say that,” general manager Chris Grier said of the attempt to move to Jack. “We were active.”
The Dolphins had to move up to get Howard as well. They traded away a fourth-round pick to move up four spots.
But Howard is medically clean. And while Jack would have been a luxury at linebacker, Howard fills a desperate need at cornerback.
The Dolphins needed a cornerback or two like a leaky dam needs patching. This pick had to happen to prevent a flood of points drowning Vance Joseph’s pass defense in his first year as coordinator.
“I regard myself on making plays and my strengths are my ball skills and being a physical corner,” Howard said.
The Dolphins are good with that. They’re content and you should be, too.
But keep an eye on Myles Jack the next few years. Sneak a peek at that franchise in north Florida to see how their gamble goes.
However it goes, remember, it might have been the Dolphins.