Miami Dolphins first round QB debuts in team history

With Tua Tagovailoa set to make his first career start, we look at the debuts of other Miami Dolphins first-round quarterbacks.

Since 1966, the Miami Dolphins have taken four quarterbacks in the first round. These four are Rick Norton (1966), Bob Griese (1967), Dan Marino (1983), Ryan Tannehill (2012). Of the four, Griese and Marino are both Hall of Famers, while Tannehill has been to the Pro-bowl, and Norton spent only 4 short seasons in the league.

In an attempt to gauge how Dolphins fans should feel about Tua Tagovailoa‘s debut, we take a dive into the past to see how these four former first-round picks debuted in the aqua, orange, and blue.

Rick Norton – University of Kentucky: 2nd overall selection, 1966 Draft

09/09/1966: W2: Dolphins vs New York Jets: 14-19 L: 8/20 passes, 97 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Truth be told, anything prior to Chad Pennington I was not able to witness for myself. Norton has never been mentioned in the preliminary Dolphins history guide and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of him. Norton, the 2nd overall pick in 1966, was a bust. While the league back then was a run-first league, Norton only started in two games his rookie season and did not pass for more than 97 yards. In his second start, Norton threw 10 passes, with 3 completions, 3 interceptions, and 17 yards. Fortunately for the Dolphins, the next rookie who came in was much better.

Bob Griese: Purdue University: 4th overall selection, 1967 Draft

09/24/1967: W4: Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs: 0-24 L: 11/22 passes, 101 yards, 2 INTs

Prior to his first start, Griese threw for 193 and 2 touchdowns against the Broncos in a win. However, in his first official start, Griese struggled heavily in a shutout. Following a tough game against the Chiefs would hit the bench once again after a 1/3 passing for 4 yards and an int. Thankfully, he would come in relief the next game, regain his starting spot, and two Super Bowl rings later, Griese would become an icon.

Dan Marino: University of Pittsburgh: 27th overall selection, 1983 draft 

10/09/1983: W6: Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills: 35-38 L: 19/29 passes, 322 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs

We all know the story of how Marino somehow fell to the Dolphins in ‘83. Since he was first active in week 3, Marino would come into the game and throw the ball but was not the official starter. Once he was officially named the starter, Marino never looked back. Even though he would lose the game, and throw some interceptions, the Dolphins and Bills were locked in battle as Marino did not look like a rookie. He would even become the NFL MVP the following season as a sophomore and break the NFL single-season touchdown passing record, and later become, arguably, the greatest Miami Dolphin of all time.

Ryan Tannehill: Texas A&M QB: 8th overall selection, 2017 draft

09/09/2012: Dolphins at Houston Texans: 10-30 L: 20/36 passes, 219 yards, 3 INTs

Tannehill is the first Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick who would open up the season as a starter, but he continued the trend of a loss and at least one interception in a debut. Tannehill came into a tough situation and as a converted QB, there were a lot of question marks. While Tannehill would lead the Dolphins to a playoff appearance later in his career, he would be traded to Tennessee prior to 2019 and has already led the Titans to a playoff appearance and currently to a 5-0 record in 2020.

Many fans hope that Tagovailoa can break the streak of losses and at least one interception in a debut for Dolphins first-round pick quarterbacks, fans will take a loss if it means he can be closer to Marino and Griese than Norton. There should be moderate expectations for Tagovailoa following the bye week, but if the team can stay hot, there is a chance the streak could end for a first-round QB debut.