Some thoughts and notes on Dolphins offensive positions a few days into free agency:
▪ Quarterback. Though the Dolphins re-signed David Fales on Thursday, he won’t necessarily be Ryan Tannehill’s backup. And there’s no guarantee he will even make the team.
One NFL official who spoke with Miami said the Dolphins have expressed interest in finding Tannehill’s backup in the draft if possible. (And that may or may not be possible.)
That might require using a first- or second-day pick on a quarterback, unless the Dolphins find a gem in the fourth round as Dallas did with Dak Prescott in 2016.
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The Dolphins’ interest in Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is well-documented. The Dolphins and Mayfield had scheduled a dinner this week in Norman, Oklahoma, but rescheduled it until later in the month because Dolphins officials wanted to remain in South Florida this week for the early stages of free agency.
The Dolphins will return to Norman to give him a private workout and have dinner with him. He also might visit Dolphins offices, too.
An NFL official in touch with the Dolphins said they also have spoken highly of UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
Rosen missed the final six games of 2016 with a shoulder injury and had two concussions last season.
“He could be in the mix to be the second pick,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said, “or he could drop down to No. 11. There is a polarization with that particular evaluation and a lot of mixed options.
“I could have put him at No. 6 [to the Jets], and I don’t think anybody would have been questioning that. Instead I put him at No. 11 [to the Dolphins], and it raised some eyebrows.”
It’s quite possible that Mayfield and Rosen — as well as Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen — could be gone by 11. Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold is projected to be drafted long before Miami picks.
If the Dolphins don’t select a quarterback at No. 11, there should be appealing options on Day 2 of the draft, potentially including Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Washington State’s Luke Falk and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta.
Every year, someone with the Dolphins seemingly talks about the value of drafting a quarterback every year.
But do you know how many quarterbacks the Dolphins selected in 18 drafts this century? Six.
And only three of those were selected before the sixth round — John Beck and Henne and Pat White in the second round, and Tannehill in the first in 2012.
The other two: Josh Heupel in the sixth and Brandon Doughty in the seventh.
But at least the Dolphins see the merits of drafting a quarterback before the third day. And having Fales gives them some measure of protection if that drafted quarterback isn’t ready to be a backup immediately.
▪ Running back: The team remains in touch with free agent Damien Williams, and it’s possible he could return. But other options also are being considered in free agency and the draft.
Miami wants to find someone to share the load with Kenyan Drake, who impressed after Jay Ajayi’s trade.
The Dolphins would love to add C.J. Anderson, but Denver has told his camp that he won’t be released and a trade — as of midday Thursday — wasn’t near though the Broncos are open to that. This will continue to bear monitoring.
The free agent class isn’t especially good. Though LaGarrette Blount would be an asset, the Dolphins have never pursued him in the past. He is visiting Detroit this week.
Beyond Blount (who averaged 4.4 yards for the Eagles last season), the only other free agent running backs who averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry last season were Dallas’ Alfred Morris, who averaged 4.8, and Charles Sims, who average 4.5 for Tampa Bay on 21 carries.
And what did Blount and Morris have in common? Both ran behind excellent offensive lines.
Morris’ former representation had hoped for Dolphins interest in the past but it never materialized.
Williams averaged 3.9 yards on 46 carries for the Dolphins and caught 20 passes for 155 yards.
Other free agent running backs: Adrian Peterson (3.4 average on 156 carries last season), DeMarco Murray (3.6 on 184 carries), Danny Woodhead (14 carries, 56 yards and 33 receptions for 200 yards in eight games for Baltimore), Lance Dunbar (four games last season), Andre Ellington (20 carries, 58 yards last season), Jeremy Hill (37 carries for 116), Chris Ivory (3.4 per carry average last season), Eddie Lacy (2.6 average last season), Doug Martin (2.9), Shane Vereen (3.6), Terrence West (3.5 in five games) and Kerwynn Williams (3.6).
▪ Tight end: The Dolphins have two under contract (A.J. Derby and MarQueis Gray) but realistically need a new starter to replace Julius Thomas and perhaps a new No. 2 to replace Anthony Fasano.
The Dolphins like Derby and want to see what they have there.
One tight end likely will come in the draft; there are a bunch of quality second-day prospects that the Dolphins like.
The other could come in free agency, but options are limited.
Beyond Thomas, there are only a handful of proven starters left in free agency: Eric Ebron, Martelus Bennett, Ben Watson, Brent Celek and Antonio Gates.
The Dolphins spoke to Ed Dickson’s camp, but he’s signing with Seattle, which was more aggressive.
Gates, a former All-Pro, is 37 and started just four of 16 games for the Chargers last season, with 30 catches for 316 yards.
Celek, 33, is visiting the Lions. Watson is 37 but still productive (61 catches, 522 yards for Baltimore last season). But the Dolphins have tried the approach of past-their-prime veterans at tight end and it hasn’t worked.
The Dolphins have bypassed Bennett repeatedly in the past despite having played for Adam Gase.
Ebron, perhaps the most attractive name left, reportedly will visit Carolina, Indianapolis and maybe New England.
Also available in free agency: former Falcons starter Levine Toilolo, Mychal Rivera, Zach Miller, Troy Niklas, Richard Rodgers and Luke Wilson could start if needed.
And keep an eye on Dion Sims; the Dolphins are believed to have interest in bringing him back if Chicago cuts him after signing Trey Burton. Sims is due to make $6 million next season, and $4 million of that becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Bears’ roster after Friday. And Fasano can’t be ruled out.
▪ Receiver: The position appears set now with DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Leonte Carroo will be competing with others simply to make the team.
I’m not sure I would have signed two receivers because it potentially limits opportunities for Grant.
But the Dolphins wanted to protect themselves in case of injuries, which I understand considering Parker hasn’t played a full season in three years (he missed three games last season) and Amendola missed seven games over the past three years.
The roster additions seemingly make it unlikely that Miami would draft a receiver in the first three rounds, unless Parker is traded.
▪ Offensive line: The top six are set: Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James at tackle, Josh Sitton at one guard spot, Daniel Kilgore at center and Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis competing at the other guard spot, with the other a top backup.
The Dolphins also want to re-sign tackle Sam Young, as Armando Salguero reported.
Here are some metrics on Kilgore and Sitton.
Isaac Asiata will need to compete with several others merely to make the team. Miami tendered center Jake Brendel (the Dolphins see upside there) but have moved on from Anthony Steen.