Alabama junior Tua Tagovailoa has been the presumptive No. 1 overall pick since the moment the 2019 draft ended. And Miami, winless in its first seven games, appeared well on its way to securing one of the top two spots in the 2020 NFL draft.
Things just got a bit murkier.
That’s because Miami beat the almost-equally hapless New York Jets 26-18 on Sunday, making Cincinnati the only remaining winless team. (The Bengals had a bye week.) Miami is now tied with the New York Jets, Washington and Atlanta with one win.
Of that group, the Jets and Washington likely won’t draft a quarterback in the first round, but Atlanta might be looking to move on from Matt Ryan.
And there are plenty of other QB-needy teams sporting less-than-stellar records, including Denver and Tampa Bay. The Los Angeles Chargers, Denver, Oakland and Indianapolis are all teams that could be in the market for a new QB next April, along with Miami and Cincinnati.
In other words, don’t assume Miami is going to wind up with one of the first two picks – and don’t pencil in Tagovailoa as the Dolphins starter next season, either.
The Athletic’s Chris Perkins laid out a worst-case scenario in which Miami lands outside the top two picks (prophetically, Perkins wrote this the day before Miami’s win over the Jets). Miami has three No. 1 picks in 2020 – its own and the first-round picks it acquired from Pittsburgh and Houston) – along with its own pick and Houston’s first-round pick in 2021.
So the team conceivably has more than enough draft capital to move up in the 2020 draft, but even moving up a few spots to nab one of the top two picks could cost Miami two of those first-round picks, Perkins reports.
Miami could take the best-player-available route in the first round, then hope one of the next-tier QBs falls to the second or even the third round. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, for example, would make for a nice draft haul for the Dolphins.
But then Miami would have to hope that a player like Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Washington’s Jacob Eason or Utah State’s Jordan Love falls to the second round if they still want to nab a QB – which is not ideal, as QBs drafted outside the first round generally aren’t considered future franchise cornerstones.
According to Perkins, the opening-day starters this season included three second-round picks, three third-round picks, two fourth-round picks and 21 first-round picks.