10 IN 10: MIAMI DOLPHINS
There are now just days left until the NFL Draft. This new ‘10 in 10’ series will look at each team picking in the top ten, having started with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday and finishing with the Cincinnati Bengals next Thursday. For a more considered, in-depth look at the perfect picks for each team check out the good work of my fellow contributors at The Touchdown here:
For the purposes of simplicity, no trades will be considered in this countdown unless they occur in the days leading up to the draft itself. Each article will look at individual team needs before deciding on the right pick for each franchise, whilst also considering some alternatives at that spot.
#5: MIAMI DOLPHINS
In August, most fans of the NFL were expecting Miami to be in possession of the #1 pick in the 2020 Draft. This was supposed to be the year where they “tanked for Tua”. Brian Flores had different ideas. The Miami roster that he had to work with had no right to win games last year, but somehow managed to enjoy five of them. That was five more than some might have predicted…
As fate would have it a grotesque hip injury to the presumptive #1 pick, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, has seen him slip down the draft board. Miami most certainly need a quarterback. They need a lot else besides, but a quarterback more than most other positions. It’s rumoured they’ve followed Tua’s progress since leaving high school, and I fully expect them to take him with their first pick. They may trade up to get him, or they may sit tight and hope he falls to them.
TUANIGAMANUOLEPOLA TAGOVAILOA - 'TUA'
Prior to his season ending injury, the left-handed Hawaiian had an impressive year in 2019 by most accounts. He completed 71.4% of his passes, throwing 33 touchdowns and rushing for another 2, throwing just 3 interceptions. Tagovailoa topped the league with 11.3 YPA, one stat where he outperformed Joe Burrow in his incredible season at LSU.
One area of his game where he regressed was running with the ball. He did this much less in the time he was on the field in 2019, and with less success. In 23 attempts, he gained just 17 yards, and his last four games rushed for -28 yards. Tua is nimble, and can use his ability to get out the pocket to make accurate downfield throws. Don’t mistake an ability to get out of the pocket for a rushing quarterback.
They key concern from the year was his performance in the Crimson Tide‘s matchup with LSU. His completion rate was down to 52.5%, and although he threw 4 touchdowns in this game, one of his three season interceptions came against the Tigers. He didn’t crumble in this game – far from it – but naturally he had less success against the strongest program in college football.
A QUANDRY AT QUARTERBACK?
Miami will most likely go for quarterback with this pick. There is some discussion about whether Miami rank Justin Herbert over him, but it could easily be a smokescreen. Miami don’t want to give up their treasure trove of draft capital. Whispers that the Dolphins are cool on Tua might see him fall to them without the need to trade up.
Miami do also have pressing needs on their offensive line. Question marks over Tagovailoa’s durability will be raised once more if they can’t find the players to protect him. It will be tempting to consider one of the leading tackle prospects here, but the quarterback position holds too much value. One thing to look out for, if Miami are willing to trade up, is a move for Jedrick Wills Jnr. Wills protected Tua’s blind side in Alabama. If he slips out of the top ten, the Dolphins may be tempted to reunite Tua with his right tackle in Florida. It is unlikely he will fall as far as their next pick (#18), so they would need to manoeuvre up the board to get him.
With prospects like Josh Jones and Cesar Ruiz likely to be on the board at the back of the first round, it makes sense for the Dolphins to wait until they bolster their trenches. Despite injury concerns, Tua is the man for Miami at #5.
TOM WATCHED HIS FIRST EVER NFL GAME AT AN EX’S HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 2013 AND “ENCOURAGED” TO SUPPORT THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. ONE BREAK-UP AND FOUR YEARS LATER, HE SWITCHED ALLEGIANCE TO THE JETS AND HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE GAME EVER SINCE. TOM CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER AT @DOWNTHEMANNYRD