Trading Places - San Fran, Miami & Philly, and the massive trade that shook up the draft.
Well, now that we’ve all had our time to digest it, now that we’ve had a few high-profile pro-days to really kick the rumour mills into overdrive… let’s look back at last Friday night.
In perhaps the most intriguing set of moves around the board since Kevin Costner in Draft Day (It’s a BRILLIANT film and I will not hear anything else), the Dolphins dropped from 3 to 12, then back up to 6, following a couple of transactions with the 49ers and the Eagles. These moves have shaken up the landscape for 3 franchises where the starting QB position was not necessarily a sure thing. For some, it’s the perfect settler, allowing their team to build around a young pass thrower. For another? It might be the beginning of the end.
Tua & The Dolphins
The happiest person in Miami right now has to be Tua Tagovailoa. These moves appear to be the Dolphins committing to putting pieces around Tua, though you could argue they do now have so much draft capital accrued they could make an audacious trade offer for either Wilson or Watson, but as every day goes by it feels like the former is staying in Seattle. With the latter? Well… yeeesh. I think we all have absolutely no concrete idea what’s going to happen with the latter with the allegations and lawsuits that have surfaced over the last few months and his apparent “trade me” ultimatum to the Texans’ hierarchy. So it feels like Miami is maybe thinking the safest bet right now is to ride with Tua and hope he rediscovers his Bama bounce.
Lest we forget, he went 6-3 as a starter in his rookie season, though admittedly had a couple of saves accredited to the legit wizard that is Ryan FitzMagic. I’m still trying to work out how he completed that pass against the Raiders. Electric. But now it seems it’s definitely Tua time for the foreseeable future in South Beach. Brian Flores’ defense deservedly took many of the plaudits last season, as the Dolphins lacked enough weapons on offense to make too much of a splash. A pretty strange decision to release Kyle Van Noy has befuddled some Fins fans – myself included – but these trades smack of genius. GM Chris Grier has crafted a situation where he’s now able to take a player at Pick 6, that previously he would have had to take at Pick 3, and nabbed himself an extra 1st round pick in 2023.
The Dolphins’ pick at 6 is a really interesting situation, as they might be selecting the first pass catcher off the board. Let’s assume that the Jaguars, Jets, 49ers and Falcons are all taking QBs, and the Bengals take superstar OLineman Penei Sewell to help protect the newly repaired leg of Joseph Burreaux, leaving the Dolphins with Carte Blanche to kick the skill position draft off in style. Do they take the phenom that is TE Kyle Pitts? Just today, Pitts ran a 4.44 40 yard dash. It should be illegal for someone who is 6-6, 245lbs to move that fast. It’s borderline inhumane. He and Mike Gesicki would be a nice 1-2 punch for the Fins, and give Tua a sure fire superstar target which every team in the league would covet and struggle to cover in equal measure.
Or, do they say “we’re happy with Gesicki” – who is a very talented player in his own right – and take the cream of an intriguing wide receiver crop? There is some debate about Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith vs LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, but for me it’s pretty clear cut who the choice is. Smith’s season at Alabama was remarkable, but Chase – in that LSU National Championship team of 2019/20 – was outrageous. You’ve read the reports. I don’t need to spill the superlatives. I’m saying the Dolphins snag Chase at 6, rather than 3 where they were, and feel GREAT about it.
Hurts & The Eagles
In Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts is also a very happy man. The writing was on the wall a few weeks ago when reports surfaced saying that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has “instructed the team to prioritise making Jalen Hurts a success” this season rather than create a competition for the starter role at that position. This move pretty much secures that the Eagles are not looking to draft a 1st Round QB in 2021. What’s perhaps the biggest part of this trade is the Eagles accruing an extra 2022 1st Round Pick, which has to feel great for their fans, as their roster is in need of some significant revamping. We haven’t yet really seen the promise that Jalen Reagor has come to fruition, but Miles Sanders has huge potential as a feature back, and Hurts’ cameo towards the back end of last season was impressive enough for the Eagles to move on from Carson Wentz once and for all.
Let’s all try and eradicate the stain of the memory of Nate Sudfeld from our collective consciousness… we can get through this together. As can the city of Philadelphia and this Eagles franchise. It’s sad to see how quickly they’ve burned to the ground after shining brightly in SuperBowl 52. I’ll always love you Nick Foles. Philly Special all day everyday. I need more trick plays in this league. And – thankfully for me – Jalen Hurts is more than enough of a dual threat to make those work.
But as far as who the Eagles will now choose from at Pick Number 12… With the aforementioned acceptance that most likely Picks 1-4 will be QBs, and both Carolina and Denver in need of a passer (Drew Lock sucks), at 8 & 9 respectively, we will almost certainly see 5 Quarterbacks go in Round 1, and who knows – maybe some team gets wild and that number goes even higher. Kyle Trask or Kellen Mond anyone? Stranger things have happened…
So at 12, there’s a plausible situation where perhaps only a few skill position players will have gone off the board. A game-changing WR may still be available. Might DeVonta Smith still be there?! Jaylen Waddle surely would be if Smith is gone… or perhaps new head coach Nick Sirianni wants to bolster the somewhat leaky defense, with Caleb Farley (CB from Virginia Tech), or Micah Parsons (LB from Penn State)? Both would be extremely solid options. But – in a similar situation to Miami – the Eagles have managed to move down, out of the Quarterback scrap, accrue future draft capital AND still have a high enough pick to choose a player who can make an instant impact on their 2021 roster. It’s a great move for the Eagles.
Jimmy G & The 49ers
And then, way out west, in perhaps the biggest part of this trade in terms of league wide impact, it looks like the 49ers may have seen the light. As has been said on every single show, on every single network, “you don’t trade up to Number 3 to take anyone other than a Quarterback.” So that’s where we are. The 49ers are moving on from Garoppolo.
Jimmy G has proven to be a billion dollar smile in a Primark suit. Sorry, I’m not sorry. I’ve heard people say “he was one throw away from beating the Chiefs & winning the SuperBowl.” That’s ridiculous for 2 main reasons: 1). He didn’t make that throw. I’m not praising him for almost getting it done. And 2). His defense, his running game and his coaches carried almost ALL of the weight in getting the 49ers to that SuperBowl. Need I remind you he attempted 8 – yes, EIGHT – passes in the NFC Championship Game vs the Packers? He was a passenger at best on that run. Give the credit to Kyle Shanahan for coaching around his QBs deficiencies and reaching that point, but when it mattered, the true superstar Quarterback in that game showed up. The other? Folded into mediocrity. He’s also got serious injury question marks over his head, considering he’s only made 25 of a possible 48 regular season starts over the past 3 years.
So – yes – the 49ers might be saying “Jimmy G” is still part of our plans, but I think they are now admitting they know what we’ve all seen. Jimothy GQ is not the guy. So John Lynch and the 49ers higher ups jumped into the draft market and shook the thing up like Mentos in a bottle of Coke. But… for whom? Who is the apple of their eye? I’ve heard a lot of noise suggesting Mac Jones is the guy the 49ers want. What a meteoric rise that would be for “Tua’s backup,” to jump from JustAGuy vibes to Number 3 overall… It’s Burrow-esque.
But then equally I’ve heard a lot of noise from other people who think Jones at the 3rd spot is a laughable reach. There’s plenty of speculation that Shanahan “loves” Jones, but Justin Fields’ speed and the intrigue of Trey Lance’s athleticism and potential are two huge complicating factors that suggest there are actually numerous directions the Niners can go with their newly acquired pick. If the Jets’ threw a curveball and didn’t select Zach Wilson the Niners might see that as a steal. For me, it feels like all the noise is heading towards a Wilson-Jones-Fields run at 2-3-4. Does Carolina need to move up from 8 to get Trey Lance in that case? Who knows. Regardless, after the slightly disappointing absolute certainty of Urban Meyer’s Problematic Army taking T-Law with the 1st pick, the top of the draft got a serious injection of energy and drama with San Fran making this move.
I did see one tweet saying “sure, this was great, but can you imagine if this had all happened ON Draft Day?” Fair point, but the impact of these moves has only heightened my excitement to create a 1st Round Mock Draft and be wrong about every single pick after the Number 1 spot. It could be carnage. I really hope it is. The NFL Draft is just so much fun. Stay safe, stay healthy, cross your fingers Jerry Jones does something ridiculous, don’t believe any mock drafts and let’s hope we get an even funnier viral moment this year than last year’s super “CeeDee Lamb snags his phone back from his girlfriend” scenario.
And please… ALWAYS remember…
Vontae Mack – no matter what. Happy draft season Sonny.