Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins much more comfortable with taking risks in draft

Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, middle, poses with coach Adam Gase, left, and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in Davie on Friday.
Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, middle, poses with coach Adam Gase, left, and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in Davie on Friday. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

This Miami Dolphins draft was not always about picking the players with the cleanest records. This was not about always chasing the healthiest guys. This was not about doing the safest thing or the thing what would make monks at some random monastery proud.

The past three days while the Dolphins added eight players was about whatever the opposite of being risk-averse is.

Outside-the-box stuff? The Dolphins love that now and went looking for it.

Gamble? Yes, please.

Swing for fences with little regard for striking out? The Dolphins are the NFL’s Dave Kingman.

“I’m thrilled with this weekend,” club owner Stephen Ross said. “We got the players we wanted. And if they weren’t there when we thought they would be, we went up and got them.

“There’s total unanimity. The scouts, the position coaches and the personnel department were all on the same page. I’ve never seen it like it. And players they’ve been talking about wanting to add, they got every single one of them. That’s pretty thrilling.”

Ross was thrilled the Dolphins got offensive guard (as a rookie) Laremy Tunsil when he dropped like a rock in water during the first round. Ross admitted he’d never seen anyone taking a bong hit from a gas mask as Tunsil did on that now infamous video, and I have to admit, I’m right there with him.

But as far as the Dolphins are concerned, it doesn’t matter because Tunsil is expected to be a really good player and clearly a better player than they hoped to get at No. 13.

Tunsil is the face of this Dolphins draft but not just because he was picked first. It’s because he comes with great potential and great potential for failure, like so much the Dolphins are doing now.

They tried to trade up in the second round for Myles Jack, the UCLA linebacker who dropped out of the top 10 because of a potentially chronic knee issue that could limit his career to just a few years.

The Dolphins understood Jack might last through only one contract. They knew he needs another surgery on the same knee that has already been surgically repaired once. But because Jack offered so much potential, they tried to trade up to get him anyway.

They wanted to take the risk.

The Dolphins didn’t mind the risk involved in selecting Leonte Carroo. The team had a second-round grade on the Rutgers receiver and when he was available in the third round they slid significant chips to the middle of the table — giving up a third and fourth-round pick next year and a sixth-rounder this year — to get him in a trade.

The Dolphins did this knowing Carroo was suspended twice from the football team last year — once for academic reasons and once after he was arrested on a domestic-violence-related assault charge.

The charges for reportedly slamming a former love interest on a concrete surface outside the Rutgers football facility, it must be unambiguously stated, were dropped.

The alleged victim elected not to cooperate with the prosecution, making it impossible to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Carroo was open with scouts from every team, including the Dolphins, when asked about the incident.

That obviously made the Dolphins comfortable bringing this young man not just to their team but also into the South Florida community.

And the Dolphins are increasingly finding themselves comfortable with more and more things they haven’t been comfortable with in the past.

The team made a trade with the division rival New England Patriots on Saturday, breaking an unwritten rule that you simply do not pick up the phone when Bill Belichick calls because he doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

The team is comfortable bringing back Dion Jordan, who has been suspended multiple times the past two seasons and is himself the face of a 2013 draft that is one of the worst in club history.

“If [Jordan] wants to play and shows us he loves football, why not,” a source told the Miami Herald.

More gambling? More risk?

The Dolphins drafted a 5-6 kid to return kicks and punts. The Dolphins picked a running back with an injury history that includes a broken arm and fractured leg that occurred when he dislocated an ankle.

All that embracing of risk in search of electric reward is a significant departure from the past few years.

Coming off the harassment scandal of 2013 and under a conservative coach who didn’t feel comfortable with certain types of players, the Dolphins went much safer not long ago.

Ja’Wuan James might never be Laremy Tunsil but he starts and he’s a great person. Jarvis Landry’s biggest issue as a potential draftee was that he ran 4.68 seconds rather than 4.5 in the 40. DeVante Parker is the antithesis of the diva receiver.

Last year, in the second round of the draft, the Dolphins’ draft room was awash in disagreement. Ross wanted his football men to pick LSU’s La’el Collins.

Except Collins had dated a young woman who had gotten pregnant with a child that might or might not have been his. And Collins was no longer with the woman. And he didn’t want her to have the child.

And she was found murdered shortly before the draft.

And fearing Collins was somehow implicated, teams ran away from the idea of picking Collins in the first round, where his talent demanded he be picked.

Ross wanted him in the second round. He wanted him every round after that, including the seventh. The owner figured if Collins was indicted for murder — which he was not after he was proved not to be involved in the crime — the team simply wouldn’t have signed him.

But Joe Philbin was against the pick on the basis he didn’t want to select, you know, a possible murderer. And general manager Dennis Hickey stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his coach on the same principles.

Obviously Ross did not force his people to pick the player. But he would have loved them to. He would have loved to take that enormous risk.

The Dolphins are willing to do that a lot more now.

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