Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier talk about the Dolphins draft and Rosen trade
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Sunday:
▪ That narrative out there (previously espoused by a network draftnik) that new Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen can be difficult and is not the ideal teammate?
From all indications, it’s bogus.
After the Dolphins’ acquired him, I spoke with two NFL people who are friends with Cardinals players. And both of those NFL people emphasized that those players have told them that Rosen was a good teammate and good guy and that on the field, he was hurt by having a deficient offensive line and playing several teams with strong defensive lines.
And here are three on-the-record remarks far more powerful than what any source can say:
Future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald, touched by the fact Rosen attended Fitzgerald’s charity softball game on Saturday a day after he was traded, told The Arizona Republic: “I think that’s just a testament to who he is as a man. He could have very easily gone down to Miami already, or just said, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna do it,’ but it shows you his commitment, his character, and just friendship. I’m very fortunate to call him a friend. Looking forward to seeing him do great things in Miami.”
Cardinals running back David Johnson said in an exchange with a fan on social media that Rosen “is gonna be one of the best when all is said and done.”
And there was this from Fox and NFL Network reporter Peter Schrager, who said Steve Wilks – Rosen’s head coach with Arizona last season – told him recently that Rosen “was so professional, so well liked. I love Josh Rosen. Never threw anyone under the bus.”
As Schrager said, Wilks – now the Browns’ defensive coordinator – made this comment unsolicited to Schrager and had no reason to say anything if he didn’t genuinely like the young man.
▪ An NFL official in contact with the Cardinals front office AFTER the trade told me Arizona indicated there was interest from other teams besides Miami, with New England among those exploring a Rosen trade as a potential backup to Tom Brady. (The Patriots eventually drafted Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham after Rosen was traded.)
If the Cardinals had legitimate other options – and this source said the Cardinals indicated they did – then it explains why Miami was willing to trade a second-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020.
▪ My issue with the trade was this: If there was no path to acquire a franchise quarterback for the Dolphins, then trading for Rosen would be a no-brainer because the young man has all the qualities teams seek in a quarterback prospect.
But in my view, there was already a clear path to draft a franchise quarterback without making the trade for Rosen, whose poor performance when not facing a heavy pass rush is historically a harbinger of future struggles, according to Pro Football Focus.
With or without Rosen, Miami is positioned to get a top quarterback in next year’s draft – either by having one of the top picks or the draft capital to move up. And the Dolphins also could be positioned to get Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2021 if next year’s “franchise quarterback” pick doesn’t pan out.
So I would have prioritized defensive end or edge rusher – where the Dolphins are bereft of talent – and stuck with the original plan to address quarterback in 2020. Options at 62 would have included Boston College’s Zach Allen, Michigan’s Chase Winovich and Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson, the career NCAA sack leader.
Now even though the Dolphins have squandered too many second-round picks over the years, they’re still highly valuable.
But on the flip side, I can appreciate the Dolphins’ perspective, and there are plenty of quarterbacks who struggle as rookies and then improve dramatically. Also, there will be opportunities to add multiple defensive ends in next year’s draft.
And here’s one impressive way to frame what Dolphins GM Chris Grier achieved: He got two first-round talents (Christian Wilkins and Rosen), a second-round pick in 2020 and a sixth-rounder in 2019 while giving up a second-rounder, a fourth-rounder and a fifth-rounder.
▪ ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Dolphins draft a B. Here was his assessment on ESPN.com:
“Miami is undergoing a complete rebuild this offseason. It might have the least-talented roster in the league after Ja’Wuan James, Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Danny Amendola and Ryan Tannehill, among others, departed. It has needs at almost every position. New GM Chris Grier has started the rebuild in the right way, though, stripping spare parts (and big contracts) and starting fresh while picking up future assets, like a 2020 second-round pick from the aggressive Saints on Friday.
“And since we thought the Dolphins were more interested in the 2020 quarterback class -- they passed on both Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock in Round 1 -- the low-risk trade for Josh Rosen makes an awful lot of sense. They gave up just a late second-round pick (No. 62) and a 2020 fifth-rounder to add a super talented signal-caller who went No. 10 overall a year ago. He’s also on a cheap deal for the next few years with his signing bonus already paid, so even if he’s not the long-term answer, it will be easy to move on. I wouldn’t rule out Miami still being in the 2020 QB sweepstakes, but I like the Rosen deal.
“Miami added an underrated interior pass-rusher in Christian Wilkins at No. 13 overall, and for a team desperate for sacks, he will provide a boost. He’s also going to be a great locker-room presence. Michael Deiter (No. 78) was my third-ranked guard, but he started games at tackle, center and guard for the Badgers. Isaiah Prince (No. 202) is a sneaky candidate to start at one of the tackle spots. Myles Gaskin (No. 234) was extremely productive in college, but you wonder what all those carries have done to his body.
“Again, this is going to be a long process for the Dolphins, and they’re just beginning. This draft will be remembered for the Rosen deal, but Wilkins could be a steal.”
▪ In addition to these 13 undrafted free agents, the Dolphins signed three others: California running back Patrick Laird (961 yards rushing last season; 4.3 per carry); Pittsburgh defensive end DeWayne Hendrix (4.5 sacks last season) and Temple tight end Chris Myarick (14 catches for 146 yards last season and a solid in-line blocker).
Also, the Dolphins are bringing in FIU punter Stone Wilson to challenge punter Matt Haack.
FIU ranked 21st in the nation in punting average last season at 44.0. Wilson had 423 punting yards against UM last season, an FIU record (and a testament both to Wilson and UM’s defense).
The Dolphins haven’t announced any of their signings, all of which were confirmed either by the players or league sources.
▪ Undrafted UM linebacker Mike Smith – whom coach Manny Diaz has talked up in recent weeks – changed his mind and canceled plans to audition for the Dolphins at their rookie minicamp and instead accepted a similar tryout offer from the Buffalo Bills.
Why? Because Smith believed he had a better chance to make the Bills, who have only two middle linebackers. And former UM and NFL linebacker Dan Morgan, now the Bills’ player personnel director, also convinced Smith that Buffalo really wants him.
Two undrafted Canes – cornerback Jhavonte Dean and receiver Darrell Langham – are both still scheduled to try out for the Dolphins during that rookie minicamp that begins May 10.