The Miami Dolphins Leap into the Future

Miami Dolphin fans watch the ugly business of shedding contracts hoping it ends in a sustainable winning team. The Dolphins have dominated free agent signing many times in a twenty stretch of mediocrity without fielding a playoff caliber roster. Finally recognizing that building teams through free agency is not a winning formula in the NFL, Miami embarks on an interesting journey through the minefields of the NFL draft.

"Building through the draft," has a wonderful sound to it, but selecting which human is best prepared for the rigors of NFL football, is an inexact science at the very least, a guessing game at best. Agents have become teachers, processing players through a myriad of classes designed to provide answers to questions in preparation to present the perfect football player. How can a person be courteous and kind, yet mean as rabid pit-bull.

It's an interesting dichotomy...

Meeting face-to-face with prospects about to become the team's future is essential when failure is fatal. Attempts to trip up scripted responses have led to interesting questions. Jeff Ireland's callus inquiries about Dez Bryant's mother, or whether a player prefers men, or how many cars did he steal, have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In reality, these meetings have little bearing on whether a prospect will make a great professional. During the pageantry, they are actors auditioning, not players playing.

Miami Dolphin fans can relate to Dion Jordan as a great example of all that can go wrong. When it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The Dolphins were picking 12th in 2013 and the Raiders were willing to accept Miami's 12th and 42nd pick to give Miami the 3rd overall pick. One look at these names is all you need to know the Dolphins should have traded down, instead of trading up.

1 Eric Fisher OT
2 Luke Joeckel OT
3 Dion Jordan DE
4 Lane Johnson OT
5 Ezekiel Ansah DE
6 Barkevious Mingo OLB
7 Jonathan Cooper OG
8 avon Austin WR
9 Dee Milliner CB
10 Chance Warmack OG
11 D.J. Fluker OT
12 D.J. Hayden CB
13 Sheldon Richardson DE
14 Star Lotulelei DT
15 Kenny Vaccaro SS
16 EJ Manuel QB
17 Jarvis Jones OLB
18 Eric Reid FS
19 Justin Pugh OT
20 Kyle Long OG
21 Tyler Eifert TE
22 Desmond Trufant CB
23 Sharrif Floyd DT
24 Bjoern Werner OLB
25 Xavier Rhodes CB
26 Datone Jones DE
27 DeAndre Hopkins WR
28 Sylvester Williams DT
29 Cordarrelle Patterson WR
30 Alec Ogletree OLB
31 Travis Frederick C
32 Matt Elam FS

The Dolphins committed the Cardinal Sin of selecting a player based on his measurements and combine numbers. They overlooked the player's obvious troubles, exacerbated by bringing that player within reach of South Beach. Jordan cost Miami picks 12 and 42. Imagine if they had traded down for a couple of 2nds, here are few names selected later in 2013.

35 Zach Ertz TE
37 Giovani Bernard RB
46 Kiko Alonso MLB
48 Le'Veon Bell RB
57 D.J. Swearinger SS
61 Eddie Lacy RB
63 Travis Kelce TE
69 Tyrann Mathieu FS
71 T.J. McDonald SS
76 Keenan Allen WR
85 Jordan Reed TE

Miami actually ended up paying two of these players premium free agent contracts. The problem in today's selection process is placing too much weight on profile numbers and not enough on what's on film. Jeff Ireland's glaring example with Dion Jordan should serve as the poster child for every want-to-be general manager.

It is obvious, Ireland was unprepared for the 3rd pick in that draft. Looking at the first round players, Oakland knew every player in the 3rd slot could be had with the 12th or indeed, the 42nd pick. There were some good offensive linemen at the top of that draft, but Ireland was under pressure to make something happen. He had submarined his coach in a power play, leaving his owner hanging out to dry. Ireland needed to take a chance. In the end, it cost him his job and very nearly his career.

Oakland ended up with D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson. Watson never turned into much, but Hayden has been a starter in the league since that draft. What rings true is, there are very few can't miss prospects. The only position worth taking risks on is the quarterback. The irony is, there was only one QB taken in the 1st round of that draft, EJ Manuel. In fact, there was only one QB taken in the second round, Geno Smith. Not one true starting QB came from the 2013 draft.

If the only reason to trade up is for a QB, Jeff Ireland did it in the poorest NFL QB draft class in the last twenty years. Ireland believing Ryan Tannehill was a franchise quarterback in 2012, created a disaster from which, the Miami Dolphins have yet to recover.

The reason for this comparison is only two possible franchise QBs are available in this draft, Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray. Neither of these QBs is an absolute sure thing which means, the teams at the top of this draft will be looking to opt-out.

Miami must not, for any reason become a player in these reindeer games. The second and third rounds of this draft overflow with talent and this is the prefect year to forget the splash and trade down.

Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater have both opted for contracts as backup quarterbacks rather than join the Miami Dolphins as a one-year starter.

The term "placeholder quarterback" has become vogue when discussing the position in Miami. Miami is looking to stock draft picks in the coming years and the most painful way to do that is by losing starters through free agency and not replacing them. This creates opportunities for compensatory draft picks the following year.

If Taylor or Bridgewater was a starting free agent QB in Miami (and indeed, they would) then it would displace the loss of Wake or James. Those two players will start on other teams and by not replacing them, Miami earns compensatory draft picks.

Bridgewater or his agent may have an over inflated idea of his value, but if a QB is coming to a team as the starter, than he should be paid as a starter. Why get killed and not get paid? Miami is not willing to pay a placeholder quarterback and hence, they have no incentive to come to Miami.

The press will malign the Dolphins as a place no quarterback is willing to play. The truth is, this is the pain Miami must endure to erase the errors reaching all the way back to Jeff Ireland.

It's interesting how none of this is ever tied to a man named Bill Parcells, but it was Parcells who began the downhill run. Parcells hired Ireland and Sparano (RIP) without understanding, once Jeff Ireland smelled the scent of power, the strength would overwhelm him.

The Dolphins swapped their 6th round pick for a 7th round pick in the 2019 draft and obtained a 4th round pick in the 2020 draft in trade for QB Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins understand, 2019 is not going to be a pretty season so why add players now. It means a QB position manned with marginal talent that will not impair the ability to obtain compensatory draft picks. It also assures the team will not be very good.

It's going to be a tough ride for Miami fans... Rigorously adhering to a plan is painful but there is some relief. In the past, Miami was under the illusion of being constantly one player away from a playoff team. They did not seem to understand the difference between a minor playoff team and a Super Bowl caliber team. The new regime clearly understands this difference and it starts at quarterback.

The quest to find a great quarterback in the draft, begins now...

Buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be an interesting ride Miami Dolphin fans!