Regardless of how the season pans out this year, Miami needs to strongly consider drafting a quarterback in the highly stacked 2018 NFL Draft.
The regular season has not even begun, and there is already a lot of talk surrounding the Miami Dolphins quarterback situation for the future. After the injury to Ryan Tannehill, some are left wondering if Tannehill will ever play in a Dolphins uniform again. That may or may not depend on how well Jay Cutler performs in his absence, who the Dolphins were willing to bring in for one season at $10 million.
In one case, if Cutler exceeds expectations, and takes Miami into a playoff run, the team may consider Tannehill expendable at that point. Should that happen, the Dolphins may look into keeping Cutler around for a while longer. Given that Tannehill would be due nearly $20 million in 2018, it would be relatively easier for the team to move on from him, and use that salary at more pressing positions.
In the other case, the Dolphins finish mediocre or worse with Cutler under center. Cutler would be shown the door, and Tannehill would take back the reigns as the clear starter going into next season once his knee is completely rehabilitated. If this is the case, Miami will likely want to restructure Tannehill’s contract at the least.
No matter how the Dolphins finish this season, however, management has to strongly consider taking a quarterback in next year’s draft. And I’m not talking about those seventh-round, Brandon Doughty types who would only see action in preseason games. No, this will be a stacked draft as far as quarterbacks go, and Miami should select one in the early rounds, no later than the third.
This is not familiar territory for the Dolphins, who have not drafted a lot of quarterbacks in the past decade. The Dolphins spent a second-round pick in each season between 2007-2009 on John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White, respectively. As a former Michigan product, I had high hopes that Henne would have become the second coming of Tom Brady. Unfortunately, all three picks were major whiffs by the Dolphins that turned out to be huge busts.
The Dolphins would not draft a quarterback again until 2012 when they took Tannehill in the first round. The only quarterback drafted by Miami after that was Doughty in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft. While it made perfect sense for Miami to address their defense in 2017, management has to be looking at quarterbacks early on for next year.
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The 2018 NFL Draft is looking to be a good one for quarterbacks. It’s a great time for Miami to grab one, and groom that player to be ready for the future. Matt Moore may be a creditable backup in his own right, and highly respected within the locker room, but it’s clear that management does not have faith in him for an entire season. The Cutler signing, and Moore’s performance this preseason, has been proof of that.
As much as the team may like Moore as a person, and enjoy his veteran leadership, it’s time for Miami to move on from him as their primary backup. In his Dolphins 2018 mock draft, PhinPhanatic‘s own Dale-Paul Jordan projected that Miami will select QB Lamar Jackson from Louisville in the second round. Jackson was last year’s Heisman trophy winner, and would be a favorable pick to many Dolphins fans. He also grew up in South Florida, and played high school football in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Depending on how Jackson performs this coming season, he may not be available for the Dolphins in the second. Miami may also not want to reach on him any earlier than that, and that’s fine. There is a long list of viable quarterbacks coming out of 2018 that Miami can choose from to groom for the future. One that can finally give Tannehill some real competition, assuming he’s still on the roster by the summer.
If he’s not, and Miami decides they want to re-sign Cutler, they still have to look to the future for the organization. Cutler will turn 35 next April so any long-term contract is out of the question. At most, the Dolphins would offer him a two-year deal, and there’s no guarantee that he would even want to play past this season. It is imperative that Miami draft a quarterback in 2018 to continue long-term success.