So here is where the Miami Dolphins find themselves coming out of the NFL Draft and pointed at training camp. They are right where they were before the draft — at least at the one essential position.
They are still looking for their future at quarterback, or, more accurately, not looking for their future quarterback because they continue stubbornly and mysteriously all-in with Ryan Tannehill. As if a man turning 30 this summer and coming off major knee surgery will, seven seasons in, suddenly enjoy an epiphany and become the difference-making star he has never been.
The draft went well in many ways for Miami, yes. Top pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Alabama safety, has a chance to be a real impact player who lifts the entire defense. Mike Gesicki out of Penn State is of the Gronk mold physically and has a chance to be the dynamic offensive tight end this team has been lacking for years.
Miami's draft was left lacking not for who was chosen, but for the sort of important position that was ignored. Again. Not drafting a quarterback (again) is why Mel Kiper's ESPN grades had Miami at C-plus, tied for 27th and last. It is why I keep beating this drum.
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See, I'm old enough to be spoiled, to remember. Veteran Dolfans know what I mean. In the three decades of the nearly seamless Bob Griese/Dan Marino era — the epic epoch of Hall of Fame quarterbacking down here — the Dolphins appeared in 37 postseason games, winning 19. Griese and Marino combined for 17 Pro Bowl seasons.
In the now-nearly two decades since Marino, the Dolphins have appeared in five playoff games, the lone win coming 18 years ago. Total Pro Bowl seasons by a Dolphin QB post-Marino: Zero.
Anybody else see a correlation there? It's almost as if the people running the Dolphins do not. Great quarterbacks rule the NFL.
The Dolphins' 18 different starting quarterbacks since 2000, since Marino retired, are the second most in the NFL, the dubious chaos exceeded only by (of course) the Cleveland Browns.
The sad parade, in chronology: Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill and (ta da!) Jay Cutler.
Yet during this long run of instability and mostly mediocrity at the most important position, the Dolphins have either failed to attempt to draft a future star at QB or failed when they tried.
The six quarterbacks drafted post-Marino: Josh Heupel in 2001 (didn't make the team), Beck in 2007 (bust), Henne in 2008 (disappointment), Pat White in 2009 (mega-bust) and Tannehill in 2012 (OK, but not the solution, and now durability an issue), and Brandon Doughty in 2016 (no longer with team).
That's six shots taken in 19 drafts, post-Marino: Two late-round throwaways, three consecutive wasted second-round picks, and the first-round Tannehill gamble. (And, by the way, if we're still wondering and debating all these years later whether Tannehill is the answer ... that's your answer).
Meanwhile, while Dolphins were busy prioritizing other positions over the years, here are a few of the quarterbacks Miami could have drafted without trading up but did not: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott. Among others.
In the 2018 draft, Miami had the ability to boldly trade up into the top 10 and get a QB, but stood pat while Arizona and Buffalo did just that. Lamar Jackson also was there for the taking.
Miami has been the least active AFC East team in terms of drafting quarterbacks since Marino departed.
The Buffalo Bills have since spent seven picks on QBs — including three in the first round, and might finally have hit big after aggressively trading up in this draft to nab highly regarded Josh Allen.
The New York Jets since 2000 have spent 12 picks on QBs, also including three first rounders, and might also finally have their long-term answer after aggressively trading up to select likely future star Sam Darnold.
New England? Despite having Brady, Bill Belichick has since drafted 10 quarterbacks, understanding the importance of constantly having young potential in the stable. Understanding that you'll never strike gold unless you persistently go mining.
In the micro view, this Dolphins draft was fine. Minkah Fitzpatrick is going to be really good.
But in the macro view coming out of this draft, Miami has now fallen to the least enviable position in the AFC East at quarterback moving forward.
The folks running the Dolphins need to start acting like that matters a little bit.