The Miami Dolphins are tanking in the most obvious way right now, and some players are clearly not happy with the way things have gone. However, it’s clear the Fins have a long-term goal that could bear juicy fruit in short order.
On Tuesday morning after Miami traded 2018 first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick at his request, team general manager Chris Grier laid out what his vision is for the franchise:
“We positioned ourselves to where we think the organization will be in a good place here shortly,” Grier said, per the Dolphins website. “How long that takes? … We’ll be aggressive free agency. We’re not going to sit back and not do anything, we’re going to be very proactive and try to get this turned quickly.”
So, how could the Dolphins “get this turned quickly?”
The big picture: Looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft it’s clear they have done the necessary groundwork to do just that, acquiring three first-round picks and six in the first three rounds.
Here’s what they have to work with in the first round:
- Miami’s first-round pick (will almost certainly be first overall)
- Pittsburgh’s first-round pick (could be top-10)
- Houston’s first-round pick
Even if you assume the Texans are going to get their offensive line protection issues figured out and that Deshaun Watson survives for 16 games, that’s still likely two top-10 picks and a late-round pick to perhaps gamble with.
Blue-chip talent: With the three first-round picks, the Dolphins can do some significant damage next April to spark their rebuild. Much like what we saw the Oakland Raiders to in 2019, they have the pieces in place to get much better, very quickly.
Assuming Miami continues to lose in prodigious fashion, the Dolphins will easily claim the top pick. With that pick, they’ll have their choice of quarterback, and there are some really good ones.
With the first pick of the draft: Here’s who the Dolphins could select No. 1 overall in 2020:
- Tua Tagovailoa: Long linked to the Dolphins, this Alabama product reminds me of Steve Young in that he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the biggest frame, but he is absolutely lethal with pin-point accuracy and can make huge plays on the ground when needed.
- Justin Herbert: A more prototypical modern NFL quarterback, Herbert is a huge young man at 6-foot-6 who has the athleticism to shrug off pressure and keep plays alive. He also has an absolute rocket for an arm.
- Jalen Hurts: A true dark horse for the top pick, Hurts is currently a heavy Heisman favorite as he racks up yardage and touchdowns for Oklahoma.
If it were up to me, I’d take Tagovailoa and never think twice.
Adding pieces: With the first-round pick acquired from Pittsburgh in the trade that sent Fitzpatrick to the Steelers, the Dolphins can land an impact star.
Here are some top options:
- Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Alabama: Talk about a freak of nature, this young receiver stops on a dime and turns would-be tacklers into memes. Teaming him up with ‘Bama teammate Tagovailoa in the NFL makes too much sense.
- Andrew Young, offensive tackle, Georgia: If the Dolphins value protection for their young quarterback over a playmaker, landing this blue-chip left tackle would be an incredible way to facilitate that.
- Mustafa Johnson, defensive end, Colorado: Should Miami be interested in landing an impact defender with their second first-round pick, Johnson is it. He can play inside and out, and is extremely quick off the ball.
For good measure: The final first-round pick was acquired from Houston in the trade that sent Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to the Texans. This is likely to be a mid-to-late first-round pick.
There is some intriguing talent to be had at that point in the draft:
- Tee Higgins, wide receiver, Clemson: If the Dolphins don’t take Jeudy or another receiver earlier, then Higgins could be a phenomenal option toward the end of Round 1.
- Grant Delpit, safety, LSU: Pairing Reshad Jones with Delpit would give the Dolphins an incredible 1-2 punch at safety.
- Tyler Biadasz, center, Wisconsin: Fortifying the interior of the offensive line while providing the young quarterback with a solid first line of defense would be a savvy move.
The bottom line: There is a lot the Dolphins can do with these three first-round picks. Obviously the key to any rebuild is making sure you get the quarterback right, and then ensuring you protect that key investment.
Whether Miami can execute its goal of quickly rebuilding this franchise into a winner is the multi-billion-dollar question.