This NFL Draft will be Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and General Manager Chris Grier’s moment of truth. It will lay the foundation for their futures as professional football leaders. Grier, the NFL’s lone Black GM is entering his fourth season with Miami and still hasn’t had a winning record.
As far as Flores goes, we all knew what the rookie head coach from Brooklyn was getting into when he agreed to take over the reins of a rebuilding Miami Dolphins franchise in 2019.
It’s tough enough being a rookie HC– an African-American one at that — but Flores had to also oversee a tank job and by all measures, he exceeded everyone’s expectations, winning five games and managing to build a competitive culture while losing.
Flores had very little talent on the offensive side of the ball and the defense gave up more points than any team in the NFL (494). Ryan Fitzpatrick is a serviceable journeyman, but if he’s your starting quarterback that usually means your franchise is treading water, waiting for a big splash to save the day.
Tua Tagovailoa vs. Justin Herbert
Miami has the fifth pick in the NFL Draft and never has a quarterback decision been more important for a head coach and GM. Heisman winner Joe Burrow is expected to be the first overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, who have fallen miserably since Marvin Lewis’ departure.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — considered the most talented QB in the Draft prior to getting hurt and Burrow having a historical season at LSU — will be available when Miami picks 5th.
The concern about Tua is is durability, because he had season-ending hip surgery. The 13 on his Wonderlic test doesn’t help, but that test is stupid anyway. Most experts agree that if Tua is fully recovered he would be a steal for any team at 5.
The coronavirus has made it impossible for Tua to travel anywhere to work out for people in person. He looked mobile in video footage of his virtual Pro Day, but without testing that dislocated hip against contact, an owner can’t be sure it will hold up.
The uncertainty surrounding Tua aside, there’s always a QB who makes a late rise in the Draft and teams become enamored with his physical attributes or thinking he will be something different at the next level. Oregon’s Justin Herbert is that guy. There’s this lie going around that Herbert might be a “safer” choice for Miami than Tua. Some draft analysts have even suggested that Miami will pass over Tua for Herbert, allowing the San Diego Charges to grab him.
— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) April 16, 2020
I’ll tell you right now, that Chargers HC Anthony Lynn is praying every night that Miami makes the biggest mistake in franchise history and takes Justin Herbet over Tua. His career as a head coach is depending on this draft as well. With Phillip Rivers joining the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego will be seeking a franchise QB for the first time in 16 seasons. Lynn’s future and job security depend on finding a young stud to pick up where Rivers left off before he got old.
Remember Trubisky over Watson? Rosen, Darnold Mayfield Allen over Lamar? Expect much of the same if Miami fronts on Tua. Whatever happens, it will change the trajectory of Flores’ career and Lynn’s. Maybe they both get lucky like when Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Rivers all turned out to be franchise studs in 2004. That’s unlikely though.
This is not the time to get cute. In fact, Miami has already benefitted from Tua getting hurt because he will fall enough for them to snag him, by all reports. Don’t listen to guys like Jake Plummer who told TMZ that Tua was “damaged goods.”
MY COLUMN: Justin Herbert is a talented QB, but don’t pretend he has Tua Tagovailoa’s ability | https://t.co/pMQFwOh68O
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) April 16, 2020
The Dolphins haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1984. They haven’t had a All-Pro franchise QB since Dan Marino. By all reports, Tua is that guy. With all due respect to Jordan Love or Justin Herbert or even Joe Burrow — if Tua doesn’t get hurt then those guys aren’t considered in his league.
Miami can keep making bad choices. Try to outsmart themselves and grab Herbert. Or believe in what their eyes have been telling them and what every football analyst has been saying since 2018 about Tua and become a team of the future.