A week ago the Miami Dolphins had little or no shot at drafting Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Yes, they would need to pony up picks and players or just a lot of picks to move from their seven to ten range into the top spot. The fact that the Indianapolis Colts held that pick and an uncertain future for Peyton Manning exists, it was unlikely that the Colts would part with that number one overall.
Late last night with less than a minute to go in the “Thank God it’s Thursday” match-up on NFL Network between the Colts and the Houston Texans, Dan Orlosvky drove the Colts 80 yards for a game winning touchdown. An upset the likes of which has never happened in the NFL. No winless or one win team has ever knocked off a 10 win team this late in the season. The Texans, who held out hope for a first round bye, saw that chance dwindle into nothing as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
And somewhere, Stephen Ross must have been smiling, saying “we might actually have a shot”.
The price tag to move up will still be high and the Dolphins may not want to pay that amount of compensation, but if the pieces fall into place, the Dolphins may find, if they choose, a willing partner at the top of the draft.
The Colts still hold the first overall pick and loss next week to Jacksonville will assure them of that number one overall slot based on strength of schedule tie breakers. Tied with the Colts at 2 and 12 are the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings. Wins by either one of those teams will take them out of the first overall pick contest. Wins by both and the Colts lock it up this weekend.
St. Louis will play the Pittsburgh Steelers who are still hunting for their playoff seeding after a big loss last week to San Francisco. It would be a monumental upset if the Rams beat them. Minnesota however faces a Washington Redskins team that simply is more Jekyll and Hyde than consistent on any level. That game could literally go either way depending on what Redskin team shows up. (Ironically the Redskins are on of the teams who may have interest in moving up to land Andrew Luck).
In the final week of the regular season, as mentioned above, the resurgent Colts play the Jaguars in Florida, the Rams are home against the 49’ers, and the Vikings host the Chicago Bears. Regardless of what happens, the Colts are the key. If they win and either the Vikings or Rams win, then the Colts will finish out of the number 1 pick.
Why would this matter to the Dolphins?
The answer in reality lies with the Vikings and the Rams. Both teams have young QB’s who were first round selections. Sam Bradford has had a rocky sophomore season but a year before that he was the rookie of the year after being taken number one overall by the Rams. If the Rams end up with the Luck pick, they won’t take Andrew Luck. The bevy of picks would help get that team much needed help for Bradford.
The same can be said of the Minnesota Vikings who last year made Christian Ponder their first round selection at 12. They too will not likely invest highly again in a QB. What that means is that both teams realize the compensation level that moving out of that spot carries with it. Especially if a team like the Miami Dolphins decides to jump in from the seven to ten range.
The question would then become would either the Vikings or Rams…or even the Colts, be willing to move that far down the draft board? It’s safe to say that moving from the fifth spot to number one would likely carry two first round picks. It’s safe to say that if the Dolphins do indeed draft from the second five in round one, that two firsts is a given, a couple of seconds, a player or two, and maybe more. Is that worth bargaining the future on a guy who has never played a down in the NFL?
The short answer, in my opinion would be yes. Andrew Luck is the best pure quarterback to come into the draft since Peyton Manning and while there is no guarantee that he would come close to that level of NFL play, there is also no guarantee that he would be a washout either. The Dolphins need a face and a name to go with their franchise. The shuffled deck of QB’s over the last decade has alienated fans, left empty seats in the stadium, and has sparked outrage over the failure of the team to address the position. Andrew Luck may not be the next boy wonder but he would ease the suffering of the fans, if at least for a few years.
For Dolphins fans, it’s not as much about Luck failing or succeeding as much as it is about the Dolphins trying. In this long drought of mediocre QB play, fans have watched the team either skip drafting a franchise QB, trade away second round picks on has been’s, or simply looked in free agency for someone else’s back-ups. It all has equaled zero success on the field. That needs to change and it is the responsibility of Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland to get it done if the situation and the player presents itself.
A win by the Colts next week and a loss by either the Rams or Vikings will give Ireland and Ross an opportunity. A slim one, but an opportunity nonetheless. With Matt Barkley staying at USC, the options in round one sit at Andrew Luck and Robert Griffith, III. Or they can once again wait until round two.