Most fans would agree that if the Dolphins do indeed draft a QB in this year’s draft, it will be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. At least, that’s what the draft “experts” are claiming. But what if the Cleveland Browns select him with their fourth pick? What if a team makes a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to move up to the third spot and select him? What if Miami actually feels Tannehill is a reach with their eighth pick and decides to go after an impact player that can start week one such as a pass rusher or wide receiver? If any of these scenarios are true, then “Plan B” could be Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins.
With so many holes to fill on this roster and the failure to sign impact players in free agency, there’s no chance the Dolphins will trade up with the Vikings. Not only does Miami need every single pick in this draft, they basically need to hit home runs with each one. So for the purpose of this article, let’s scratch the idea of moving up to the third pick, and get focused on my potential Plan B.
Since the start of the offseason, the fans were promised a QB and now the expectations to draft one are high. If for any reason the Dolphins do not get Tannehill in the first round, I believe Kirk Cousins will be their man with the 42nd pick in the second round. He should still be available in that slot and Cousins is considered a top five quarterback in this year’s draft.
Cousins started to show up on everyone’s radar back in February with a solid set of throwing drills at the NFL Combine. He arguably had the best passing performance than any other QB that weekend in Indianapolis. Yes, I am aware that Luck, RGIII, and Tannehill did not throw at the combine. Weeks later, he made more national headlines on NFL Network and ESPN with a very impressive Pro Day performance.
His stock rose even higher with a “charming” interview with ESPN’s John Gruden, during the 30 minute special of QB Camp. No question, Gruden had a man-crush and was completely enamored by Cousin’s intelligence, quickness, and communication skills. Needless to say, this episode only helped Cousin’s draft stock and Gruden did a good job highlighting his assets.
This all sounds great, but just how good is he? Well, the Big Ten QB ended his senior year with an overall 11-3 record, which includes a 33-30 overtime win against Georgia in the Outback Bowl. He threw for 3,316 yards and 25 touchdowns to go with 10 interceptions. His average quarterback rating for the year was 145.1 and completed 63.7% of his passes. As you can see, his numbers were great, but certainly not elite. At 6’3” 205 pounds with excellent feet and quickness, Cousins appears to show good second round value who can fit in a West Coast Offense for the Dolphins.
Furthermore, the Dolphins won’t feel pressured to start Cousins immediately like they would if he was a top ten pick. They could afford to groom and slowly bring in a second round QB, like they did with Chad Henne. According to almost every draft expert, including Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, Tannehill has a ton of potential, but is a developmental QB that will not be ready to play week one. In fact, he will most likely not see playing time until 2013.
If you draft a “franchise” QB near the top ten, shouldn’t they see significant playing time their first year? Just to name a few, please see: Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Blain Gabbert, Christian Ponder (12th), Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, and soon-to-be Andrew Luck and RGIII. Not to mention all of the late first round and second round QBs who started in several games their rookie seasons. Unfortunately for Tannehill, this will not be the case. If Miami wants to improve this season and compete for the playoffs, their eighth pick needs to have a significant role on this team week one.
As each hour goes by, my confidence level in Miami actually drafting Tannehill in the first round goes down. With this week’s release of DE Philip Merling and losing DE Kendall Langford in free agency, who is going to take the place of DE Jason Taylor? Since we officially have no depth, many have argued that a pass rusher has now become a “MUST” for the Dolphins.
Besides, you can never have enough pass rushers in this league. Just take a look at the recipe for the New York Giants. Simply put, Miami is now anemic at this position and you can bet Ireland and Co. are fully aware of it. This alone could alter the decisions made this upcoming Thursday night.
It’s no secret the Dolphins are searching for their franchise quarterback. Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland have openly stated that finding a quarterback is their number one priority. They lost out on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and passed on the potential of Matt Flynn. We all know Matt Moore and David Garrard are not the long term answers. This leads us to the draft. As long as Jeff Ireland is running the show in Miami, continue to expect the unexpected. If Tannehill doesn’t walk across the stage after the eighth pick is called out, don’t be surprised if Miami goes for Plan B.