Draft Value is QB for the Miami Dolphins

The first NFL draft was held in 1936 and had 9 rounds. As the sport grew in popularity, the draft followed, expanding to 20 rounds in 1939, then 30 rounds in 1943. Teams began investing in scouting departments, which actually reduced the draft to 17 rounds in 1967. In 1977, drafting as one unified league, the NFL reduced the number of rounds to 12. Finally, in 1994 the current 7 round draft format was adopted and has remained.

The reduction in draft rounds over the years is a direct result of the massive influx of information. In 1936, teams found players from reading newspaper articles and hearsay. Today, the draft has become a season of its own with seemingly more experts than players available!

With only seven rounds, there are unlimited opportunities in the undrafted free agent market, but as scouting has evolved players outside the draft rarely survive long in the NFL.

For this reason, the idea of positional draft value has enabled some NFL teams to acquire more picks. For instance, from 2006 to 2016 over an 11 year span, the New England Patriots had 101 draft picks. An extra two draft picks every season. Over the same period of time, the Miami Dolphins drafted 83 players, just over the allotted 7 players per season. New England drafted 18 more players than the Miami Dolphins.

How does this happen?

The rich get richer by understanding positional draft value… A QB is worth more than a Center.

New England picked Jimmy Garoppolo in the second-round of the 2014 draft with Tom Brady at QB. They got 3 years out of Garoppolo and then acquired a higher 2nd round pick in trade. The thing is, they did not need Garoppolo because they already had Ryan Mallett, drafted in the third round of 2011. They knew the value of the position and drafted Garoppolo anyway. At the right moment, they traded Mallett for a seventh-round pick. That could seem like a small gain, but they got a few years with Mallett as a backup and then a draft pick.

Every draft pick is an opportunity…

Three years and then additional picks over and over again because unlike a guard, a QB has lasting value. Matt Cassel was picked in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft. After three years, the Patriots obtained a second-round draft choice and veteran leader, linebacker Mike Vrabel. There is no adulation here for the Patriots or Bill Belichick, these examples are to prove the point.

BPA is not the same for every position on a draft board. A QB is worth more than a tackle.

There’s a saying in these parts, “keep drafting a quarterback until you get it right.”

The rich can’t get richer unless they’re already rich!

A team must have a great QB before a backup QB has any value. This is why every team in the top echelon of the NFL has a great QB. It can’t be a maybe he’s good, it can’t be a possibility he’s good and he can’t be potentially good… The QB must be great otherwise the back-up has less value.

There is little value in Garoppolo or Mallett or Cassel if Tom Brady is not great…

The question in Miami then is simple, is Ryan Tannehill great?

The answer is emphatically NO!

Miami cannot join the rich at getting richer because they’re not rich!

Drafting into the riches comes once every season, but like most common folk who never strike gold, Miami does not understand positional value. The Dolphins still believe Ryan Tannehill can be great long after greatness would have shown itself. Along the way, they have not even invested in another opportunity. Meanwhile, a team with a great QB, New England, continues to enrich itself at the value position every season and reaps the benefits.

It doesn’t matter if the evaluator is a Tannehill fan or a hater, the question has little do with the Tannehill at all when taken in the proper context.

Is Ryan Tannehill great?

It’s doubtful many would answer yes to that question… “Keep drafting a quarterback until you get it right,” and then draft more because the value is undeniable. It even reflects in the current Super Bowl champions. The Eagles are relatively new in “QB value-stream economics” but look what they’ve done. They made every maneuver possible to jump up in the 2016 draft to obtain Carson Wentz. They saw the value and boldly snatched it up.

To make sure they had an adequate backup, they acquired Nick Foles. When Wentz went down (remember when Brady got hurt) and Foles subsequently finished the season as the Super Bowl MVP, the Eagles joined the club of riches. Whether they are shrewd enough to get the value out of Foles will determine how long they reign amongst the rich.

What is the point of this article?

In a year where there is exceptional QB talent in the draft, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to make the right decision and draft one. As hopefully described above, how we think about Ryan Tannehill does not matter, more is always better!

The mistaken belief of every mediocre team in the NFL is that they are a couple of players away from contention with an average QB. Nick Foles won, it was the Eagles defense, like the Ravens or Bucs before them.


With perhaps a single exception, only the teams with historically great QBs have maintained sustained success. The Miami Dolphins must invest heavily in the NFL value position or they will always be looking up in envy at the rich guys…

Keep drafting a quarterback until you get it right!