Lots of Dolphins quarterback talk on a Tuesday:
▪ Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield might not even be available when Miami picks 11th in April’s draft.
But this much we know: The Dolphins like Mayfield’s skill set and privately have spoken highly about how he came across in their interview with him at the Senior Bowl.
The Dolphins weren’t sure what to expect when they met with Mayfield but came away impressed, according to a source with direct knowledge.
That’s why the Dolphins plan to spend even more time with him at dinner on March 13 in Norman, Okla., as we reported last week — even though many expect Mayfield to be gone before No. 11.
Whether they develop a similar affection for Wyoming’s Josh Allen or UCLA’s Josh Rosen remains to be seen.
And whether it’s Mayfield or another quarterback, we believe there’s at least some willingness inside the Dolphins to genuinely consider a quarterback at 11, though they remain committed to Ryan Tannehill as their 2018 starter and though other positions remain more likely because of immediate need and the front office’s desire to win immediately.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had some interesting things to say about Mayfield in a conference call on Monday.
“His tape is really good,” Mayock said. “He’s close to a 70 perecent completion guy. I’m not too worried about him being 6’ or 6’1”, even though there is a very small percentage of those quarterbacks. I think it really comes down to off the field, face-to-face, in the meeting rooms, with the decision-makers whether or not you’re going to buy into his character and him being the face of your franchise.
“I think there are going to be some teams that say, ‘No, I’ve seen some talent, but it’s not my guy.’ I think some other teams are going to say no biggie, maybe some emotional competitive immaturity, but outside of that I’m good. But he still sparks that conversation with every team in the league. When you say what can he do, I think it’s less physically and more how we represent, and whether or not a team can look him in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my guy. That’s the face of the future for my franchise.’ Again, he’s a different cup of tea for everybody.”
Mayock was then asked whether the comparison with Johnny Manziel — which Mayfield and his people understandably don’t like or agree with — is sticking to him.
“Here’s what I would tell you,” Mayock said. “The world of 6-1-and-under quarterbacks is a small one, to start with. When you compound that with some off-the-field issues and extend the athletic play on the field, there are going to be comparisons, whether he wants to distance himself or not. I go back to what I said a moment ago, which is he’s going to have to prove in the meetings that he is a different guy than Johnny Manziel off the field, especially; that he has the character where he’s going to be the first guy in, the last to leave.
“You’re not going to see any of the BS you saw in college. He’s not going to be giving anybody the finger or whatever. He’s going to be about business. It’s great to be exciting and it’s great to be excitable, but at the end of the day you have to be the leader of a football team. He’s got to convince people that not only is he dynamic and a positive leader, but he’s also going to be a great guy in the locker room in the face of your franchise. That’s his challenge. Whether he likes it or not, being under 6-1, having some off-the-field issues and having an athletic quarterback is going to throw him into the conversation with Manziel.”
▪ We’ll save discussion of UCLA’s Rosen and Wyoming’s Allen for another day. But if the Dolphins wait until the second or third day of the draft to add a quarterback, here’s what Mayock had to say about some of the others:
“As far as the quarterbacks that will go in the first round,” Mayock said, “I think you’re looking at Sam Darnold, Allen, Rosen, Baker Mayfield, and the wild card in this whole thing for me is Lamar Jackson, and I think Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State - I have him in the second round. But the way things are going in today’s NFL, who knows? Rudolph is a prototypical, dropback type of guy. . Along with him, I would say Luke Falk and Mike White, I think, are very interesting players.
“Then a notch below that, I take Kyle Lauletta and Logan Woodside. Now, if you look at the five potential first-rounders — [plus] Mason, Rudolph, Falk, White, Lauletta and Logan Woodside — that’s 10 quarterbacks. In a typical draft only 11 to 12 quarterbacks get drafted overall. So I think there’s a little bit better quality at the top end through three or four rounds than we’re used to seeing in the quarterback draft.”
▪ Though few analysts have Louisville’s Jackson going as high as No. 11, Mayock said: “Lamar Jackson I think is the most electrifying player in this draft, and I think somebody’s going to take him and commit their offensive philosophy to him. I would tell you that the most nervous 31 people in the league would be the defensive coordinators that would have to play against him.”
▪ Keep an eye on Richmond’s Lauletta, who played the best of any quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl.
“He’s an interesting guy,” Mayock said. “The Senior Bowl has propelled a lot of quarterbacks in the last 15 years. Not necessarily just first-round guys, but other guys. I think he opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl. He’s very solid, does everything well, does not have any one elite trait, but does everything pretty well. Case Keenum reminds me of that a little bit, those kind of traits when he came out. So I think he went from an afterthought to somebody that could legitimately be a third round quarterback in the NFL.”
Mayock also was impressed watching what Toledo’s Woodside did against UM.
“What I like about him is the kid makes a lot of plays,” Mayock said. “I think he’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, because he wasn’t recruited and all the rest of that. He’s a self-made kid. So at halftime of the Miami game, they’re up 16-10, and he continued to push the ball down field. I saw the Miami game, I really liked because that chip on his shoulder where, why didn’t you recruit me, you could almost see it on tape. So when I looked at him earlier, I kind of put him and Kyle Lauletta in the same conversation because they’re similar height, body types, et cetera, but I think Logan Woodside has not gotten enough credit, and he’s the guy I’m looking forward to watch throw the ball at the combine.”
The Dolphins want to upgrade over Matt Moore, and here are the 28 quarterbacks set to become free agents next month, broken into five categories.
▪ Clear starters: Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins
▪ Very likely starter: Case Keenum
▪ Potential starters: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, A.J. McCarron, Josh McCown
▪ Serviceable backups: Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Derek Anderson, Moore, Geno Smith, Chase Daniel, E.J. Manuel, Blain Gabbert, Tom Savage, Jay Cutler (who doesn’t want to be a backup)
▪ Marginal, looking to stay in league: Brock Osweiler (how stock has fallen), Branden Weeden, T.J. Yates, Scott Tolzien, Matt Barkley, Kellen Clemens, Tyler Bray, Joe Webb, Josh Johnson, Austin Davis
The Dolphins, committed to Tannehill, are unlikely to bid for Brees, Cousins and Keenum.
Bridgewater and Bradford would be upgrades, but would the Dolphins be wise to have two quarterbacks coming off major knee injuries (Tannehill and Bridgewater)?
Plus, Bridgewater or Bradford clearly would require a larger salary and cap commitment than someone like Moore.
McCarron and McCown likely would look for starter’s jobs but either would be an appealing backup option if amenable.
The serviceable backup list lacks anyone dramatically better than Moore, though Miami might find someone more durable.
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