The Miami Dolphins are expected to select their quarterback of the future at next week’s draft, but will they take a risk or go with the safest bet at the most important position in football?
All eyes will be on the Miami Dolphins when they are on the clock with the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, with the consensus opinion being that the team will take the guy to be the long-term successor to Ryan Tannehill.
Much of the talk in the media over the past month or so has fixated on two players in particular that are reportedly both very high up on the Dolphins’ draft board: Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama and Justin Herbert from Oregon.
Tagovailoa and Herbert are considered the second and third best options at the quarterback position in this year’s draft, with LSU’s Joe Burrow expected to go first-overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, after posting a 60 passing touchdown season that helped the Tigers to a National Championship title.
The Dolphins have one of the most difficult choices to make with the fifth-overall pick, needing to land the right guy that can help take the franchise forward over the next decade or so. So will the team take a risk with their selection, or will they go for the guy that appears to be the safest bet?
The safest bet, at present, appears to be Herbert, who looks to have prototypical tools at the position and has dominating size at 6-foot-6, 237lbs.
He is a student of the game, has achieved well academically and was even viewed as the possible top quarterback prospect had he declared for the 2019 Draft instead of returning to the Ducks for his senior year.
He can make all of the throws, though his deep ball could still be improved, but the biggest knock on his is he is a quiet leader, not very vocal and prefers to lead by example on the field with his play rather than his voice.
He is expected to be taken either by the Dolphins or the L.A. Chargers, who have the very next pick.
The Eugene, Oregon native would arguably be the safest bet for any NFL team outside of Burrow in this draft, but with a franchise needing to make a splash and build up the belief of the fanbase, could a riskier move be made?
Tagovailoa is arguably the better prospect under center, dominating the SEC with the Alabama Crimson Tide when he’s healthy.
His health is the clear concern for teams entering the draft, with multiple breaks already throughout his college career. When he’s on the field at full fitness, he is clearly an NFL-calibre player and could truly invigorate the fans, who have been pining for a long-term solution at the position.
There is also a question as to how well he would learn an NFL playbook, with his Wonderlic score bottoming out amongst quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, with just 13.
Now, this is not always a clear indicator of success in the NFL, but it might give a small insight into his decision making and reasoning skills. By comparison, Burrow scored the third-highest of the group with 34 and Herbert scored a middle-of-the-pack 25.
Some detractors may see this as a reason for the Dolphins not taking Tagovailoa with the fifth pick, but it should be noted that Hall of Famer quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Dan Marino themselves scored 16 respectively, while some players that never lived up to expectations scored far higher, including Drew Henson (42) and Greg McElroy (48).
Last season’s NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson, himself only scored a 13, proving that it really does come down to performances on the field.
This still presents somewhat of a risk for the Miami Dolphins, particularly considering the injury history, but there is an even higher risk that some still suggest the team could take: Jordan Love.
Love is an interesting player, coming out of Utah State with a first-round grade and, in the eyes of some experts, the highest upside of any quarterback in this year’s draft.
He had a down year in 2019, with a number of changes both on and off the field contributing to inconsistencies and a regression from strong performances in 2018.
He is expected to develop into a starter at the NFL level, but he certainly has a lot of work to do to get there and may require a couple of years developing rather than the one that guys like Tua and Herbert could manage.
Some more recent mock drafts believe the Miami Dolphins may opt to take an offensive tackle at fifth-overall, taking Love with the 18th pick, something that could either pay dividends or be a colossal failure for the franchise.
It’s a difficult time to be general manager of the Dolphins, but these are things that Chris Grier will need to make decisions on in less than a week’s time, with the weight of the franchise and its fanbase heavy on his shoulders.