MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As time marches on toward April’s 2018 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins fans have begun clamoring for that next franchise savior to liberate them from the shackles of mediocrity.
The silver lining of a 6-10 season comes in the form of the 11th overall draft pick.
Miami has clear needs and linebacker – and yes – offensive line (seriously… still?). And yet, if you ask Dolphins fans whether they feel set at the quarterback position with Ryan Tannehill, you won’t hear too much confidence.
Tannehill is about to enter his seventh season in the NFL and returns from nearly two years away from football with a left knee injury. Since being drafted by the Dolphins in 2012, he’s never faced serious competition for his starting quarterback job.
In 2018, that could finally change.
Omar Kelly, who covers the Dolphins for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, joined 560 WQAM’s “The Joe Rose Show” on Tuesday to discuss whether now is the time for Miami to invest in a first round quarterback. At pick 11, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield could still be on the board.
“I say (drafting a quarterback) is something important to have a conversation about when you consider the fact that Ryan Tannehill is the only quarterback under contract right now,” said Kelly. “This is going to be a very interesting situation for Miami, especially if they don’t re-sign (backup) Matt Moore.”
“To me, the level of seriousness is going to be dictated by what the Dolphins do this offseason in terms of the backup position. Jay Cutler isn’t coming back to be a backup and we know Ryan Tannehill is firmly entrenched as the starter. But the Dolphins have to do something about that number two spot. If they don’t re-sign Matt Moore, it leads you to believe that they are going to be going after a quarterback in the early rounds.”
Free agency begins in March. If the Dolphins don’t have a backup quarterback in pace by draft day (outside of practice-squad QB Brandon Doughty, who Kelly doesn’t consider a player worthy of the 53-man roster), there’s a good chance they address quarterback in the draft.
Kelly was asked if he sees Ryan Tannehill as the definitive starter upon his return, or if someone could unseat him as early as next season.
“I think he’s going to be your starter (in 2018) no matter what,” Kelly said. “This head coach is in love with Ryan Tannehill and the intangibles that he brings.”
It’s not to say that a first round draft pick can’t be tabbed as the quarterback of the future, but Kelly notes that Adam Gase is still anxious to see how Ryan Tannehill can grow into his offense in a second season. His second season would have been 2017, but he missed the entire campaign with injury.
So, according to Kelly – even if Miami drafts a quarterback at number 11 – he’ll likely have to sit behind Tannehill for the time being.
“I don’t believe that anybody that they draft will be able to unseat him unless that player is a Russell Wilson type who comes in and instantly demands playing time.”
You can listen to the full interview with Omar Kelly on The Joe Rose Show above. Tune in weekdays from 6-10 AM on 560 WQAM.