Now that the long-awaited dethroning of the New England Patriots has commenced, one of the three playoff-deprived franchises finally has an opportunity. For two decades, the ACF East has been a one-horse race. For the rest of the scraps, the only hope was a playoff berth.
Most outsiders looking into the division would pin Buffalo as the greatest contender to dominate the East. Even Jets fans, like myself, would admit that the Bills are a better built team at the moment. But the Dolphins, following a five-win season, haven’t been on anyone’s radar to take over as the AFC East leader next December.
For next season, the division will likely be a two headed race between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. But that doesn’t mean either of these franchises will experience anything resembling the Brady-Belichick Patriots’ success. However, there is one team that may blossom into an akin juggernaut down the line. The Miami Dolphins.
This year’s draft is a pivotal point in many organizations’ legacies. The Bengals, Chargers, Jaguars, Packers, Raiders, Saints, Steelers, Patriots, and Dolphins are all potentially seeking their quarterback for the next 10-15 years. Big names like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagoviolla, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts highlight a relatively stacked 2020 quarterback class.
For the Dolphins, the quarterback position hasn’t seen stability in years. The last real attempt at a franchise quarterback was Ryan Tannehill, who only completed four seasons before injuries led him to be sidelined for Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, and Brock Oswieller.
And before Tannehill, a dozen years went by without a quarterback completing two consecutive seasons in Miami. The Dolphins need their signal caller of the future.
But he is not in this year’s draft.
The Dolphins route to becoming the biggest powerhouse football organization in the AFC East is drafting offensive linemen and the best players available at their selections.
Yes, the Dolphins need a quarterback right now. Yes, this draft is littered with good quarterbacks. Yes, the Dolphins have a top-five pick. So why wouldn’t they take one this year? There’s a simple answer: Trevor Lawrence.
Since hiring former Patriots Defensive Coach Brian Flores as head coach, the Dolphins have traded Ryan Tannehill, Robert Quinn, Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kenyan Drake, and a fourth-round pick. In return, the Fins have accumulated three first-rounders, a second, a fifth, and a conditional pick for Drake. In next year’s draft featuring Trevor Lawrence, the Dolphins will have four picks in the first two rounds.
The Fins were anything but shy during the 2020 free agency period. CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Shaq Lawson, OL Erick Flowers, RB Jordan Howard, and several others will be debuting in blue and orange next season. And with a slew of picks this year and next year, the Dolphins have even more room to build.
But rather than draft someone like Tua Tagoviolla who is returning from a rare hip injury or Justin Herbert who throws a pretty ball but doesn’t look anything like a sure deal, the team should wait.
At the fifth overall selection on Thursday night, the Dolphins should select their top choice of offensive tackle. It could be Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills Jr., or Tristan Wirfs. Regardless, they eventually have to draft someone to protect their quarterback of the decade or move down and accumulate even more picks for 2021 to select the best player available.
The Dolphins are not a bad team. Brian Flores proved that he has the leadership and intelligence to take the team that had very little talent in 2019 and will them to five wins. Now they have many more weapons, but they still have holes to fill. And those holes should be easily addressed across the plethora of selections the Dolphins have this week.
While the Dolphins certainly could have a high selection in 2021, they are most definitely not a shoo-in for a top pick. However, the picks they have for next year and additional picks they can add on Thursday will allow the Fins to have plenty of leverage and buying power in next year’s draft to ensure that they can have the most coveted college football player since Peyton Manning — Trevor Lawrence — at their disposal.
One more season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback will give the Dolphins the opportunity to secure a strong offensive line behind their quarterback of the future. Not risky choices like Tua Tagoviolla or Justin Herbert, but Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.