By: Jason Sarney
As we begin NFL Draft month, there is no fooling this is the best time of year in a world of no live sports, and more severely worrisome, the current situation we are all living.
Cabin fever is surely setting in, and the Twitter-verse and other social media forums are virtual Royal Rumble rings. Fans are arguing with, for and against reporters and beat-writers, and all of those in-between.
The last few days at Phin Maniacs has seen half of a 6-Part Mock Draft Series come to fruition with three separate quarterbacks as the centerpieces. Jordan Love, Justin Herbert and most recently, Joe Burrow, were all subjects of these mocks. Please know that I am aware these are just experimenting hypothetical situations.
To play off of an over-used Twitter-ism – “Mock Drafts are not Endorsements”
With rumors flying, or smokescreens as they are also called, the realization must kick in that the Miami Dolphins have something most teams don’t at the moment.
A slew of options.
Options means that there could be several roads for to travel for Miami, and each one may have a different path to success and take different routes. The most popular travel plans have been to either stay put at pick #5, or depending on who you ask or listen to, trade up to #3 to secure one of the top two quarterbacks…but on who’s big board?
Whether it’s smoke screens or wide receiver screens, all I intend to do is illustrate those options.
For me – each quarterback, Love, Hebert, Tua or Burrow brings potential for Miami's success. Of course, that success is also based on the surrounding parts.
This is a choose your own adventure book – with a set budget.
Today, we will get the anti-traders happy again and the Tua-folk happier, as this Mock will promise two components and one surprise. The first being Tua Tagovailoa will be selected by Miami in this hypothetical, and the second being it will be at #5.
Looking back in some archives, I can safely say I have had various takes and various assumptions based on news and situations going on, like free agency and patterns of passing on certain situations.
A few months ago, many thought a Florida-based pass-rusher would sign and sing his way South on I-95. That never happened, although a popular rumor, as the Jaguars franchised defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Miami could have traded some of those picks and then negotiated a long-term deal.
They did not. Why?
The free agency class of a whopping 10 players tells me something else. Those 14 picks Miami owns can’t possible all be used to bring in 14 players to all make an opening day roster.
The two schools of thought here are a) the more players, the higher the chance of them hitting, regardless of area drafted OR b) quality over quantity.
When analyzing the board, and its variables including other teams needs and wants, there are creative paths with a number of options of who would be the quarterback. This mock will feature a curve-ball I was once adamant about, and recently left due to recent rumors, but now back at thinking about.
However, I have also said there is no jersey GIF being created by me at the moment dictating who my absolute must need signal-caller is.
To me, the Dolphins are looking at four viable options, and a chance to get varying combinations of supporting cast and fellow stars that can make Miami fans happy, regardless of what they do at the key position.
Believe it or not, I will not be sobbing if a certain trade-up doesn’t happen, or if a certain quarterback doesn’t end up in Miami. As many have stated, I would like a team to be built, in order to make life a bit easier for the guy that Miami believes in to throw the ball.
Now if that guy is someone that may require a trade of picks and players it’s something they must consider at bare minimum. Take a shot for the top guy, and if they fall short, there are backup plans, and solid ones for sure.
Collectively, we have no idea of the Miami Dolphins draft board or any other teams. How they are thinking is knowledge to only people in the war rooms and or in virtual teleconferences.
What I will be confident in, is stating that the due diligence is being done by Chris Grier and staff to find the correct combination of picks, players, and potential trade ups or downs through the process that can get this team back to the playoffs. Not just once in a while, but consistently, with perhaps a victory in the months of January and hopefully one day, beyond.
So, rejoice in Part IV of this Mock Series – The Tua Mock with a Twist….
With the 5th pick as mentioned, assuming the order goes as it should with no trades, Joe Burrow, Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah, Isaiah Simmons and Tua to Miami at #5.
Something I am majorly adamant about is the fact that 14 picks will probably not be made by Miami, more like 10-12. With that said, Tua needs a blind side protector, and that means a right tackle. As it happens, around pick 13 two things were very much noticed.
1- The #13th slot is owned by the Niners, who are lacking many picks and 2- Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills is on the board and likely wont be in five picks.
A call is made, and Miami offers their 18th as well as the 141st and a 153rd to get to move up to #13. Miami essentially gives the Niners a compensatory pick as well as one of three 5th rounders. Miami takes Tua's 'Bama bodyguard. And there is the first twist, as there are now two players selected and 10 picks remaining instead of 12. The offensive line is instantly upgraded with a right tackle, in a class with a number of viable left tackles available.
With those 10 free agents, a lot of need was checked off, but not to be forgotten about. Now is an opportunity to create book-end tackles to protect the savior, Tua Tagovailoa. Enter Houston left tackle Josh Jones. The Dolphins get their QB, and since they are playing with house money not needing to trade up, they get the best possible protector for him available, costing them a 4th and a 5th, and given the Niners extra ammo.
Oh - San Francisco still ended up with CeeDee Lamb, as are likely to go WR so in this class, this is the move for both teams.
With the offensive line massively important to upgrade, which they already have done, why not make it as solid as Fort Knox with C/G Caesar Ruiz from Michigan? Ruiz has the versatility to play guard this season, while Ted Karras mans the center position short-term. Ruiz can be the center in 2021 and creates flexibility on the line now. JK Dobbins was gone, so the line improvement makes sense, as there is talent available at running back and safety for the next two Miami picks.
At pick number 56, running back could be addressed but as mentioned, a guy in Dobbins was a want, but taken, and safety Ashtyn Davis was a target, but selected by the Eagles at #53. Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois is a fine fall-back, and an athletic safety who can be a huge hit, no pun intended, in the Dolphins improving secondary.
The 70th pick is for a runner to compliment Jordan Howard, and keep a type of player in mind. Howard is a tough-yard gainer and a grinder up the middle through gaps, so the Dolphins should look for a shifty, speedy, lightning-like change of pace to the newly signed free agent. LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire was there, as was Florida State's Cam Akers, so this is a preference pick.
After the six picks in the top-70 remained attainable even after the Niner's deal to move up, the first three rounds reads as follows.
There were sacrificed picks, of course, so here is what Miami has left as the 3rd round nears conclusion.
With no more 4th rounder, Miami does not own a pick now until #154. Have no fear, with six picks remaining, and a few clubs nearly through with their selections, it is now a matter of fishing for the right partner. The Raiders were top heavy in the Draft, but have only two remaining picks. Miami is eyeing a pass-rusher who can be a solid project at pick #121, but they have to call Las Vegas and gamble.
They offer the 154th and a 185th and make the pick of Utah's Bradlee Anae at #121, a protect for sure, but has a high-motor and could help off blitz packages right away. Miami gave up a pick in Vegas netting an extra one, so with now seven picks taken care of, the Dolphins have four more to give them a max total of 11 players so far.
The Dolphins have probably had the Bengals on speed-dial so they decide to check in and offer the 173rd and 227th for their 147th. Miami gets a very solid blocking and passing threat of a tight end in Josiah Deguara of Cincinnati, ironically.
Two picks left with Tua, and Tackle and 8 rookie Dolphins.
With the last two 7th rounders, a slot-style wide receiver is an idea as well as another defensive back, so let's take a flier on SMU's James Proche and a name to get to know, California's Jaylinn Hawkins. The safety was was part of a team that was coached the last few years by Gerald Alexander, Miami's new defensive backs coach, who coached Cal's secondary as their position coach. Hawkins could be their last selection as another safety or corner could help the depth of the secondary.
Here you have it. Tua with a Trade and a Twist for a winning cocktail of 10 Miami Rookies.
The positions of major need are checked off, and The Dolphins can easily red-shirt their new Franchise QB, while the rest of his class immediately gives Ryan Fitzpatrick an improved roster. Perhaps good enough for one last year in the South Florida Sun, in which the AFC East is wide open.
Follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman
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