Here’s how the Dolphins should evaluate their future at quarterback

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 15: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 15: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Dolphins’ top offseason priority must be to choose a quarterback to build around. That could be Tua Tagovailoa or an elite draft prospect.

The start to Tua Tagovailoa’s tenure as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback seemed to augur a long run at the controls of the Miami offense. Unfortunately for Tua and his teammates, a late-season swoon that forced the team to miss the playoffs has put his long-term future with the franchise in serious jeopardy.

The Dolphins’ possession of the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft complicates matters for Tua and the team. The easy path forward is for Miami to select a high-quality prospect at another position and give Tagovailoa at least one more season to prove he’s worthy of being their starting quarterback of the future.

The more unconventional choice would be selecting a new quarterback at No. 3 to supplant Tagovailoa.

Would the Dolphins actually draft a quarterback?

Currently, officials in Miami are saying all the right things about Tua’s status with the team. General Manager Chris Grier recently told reporters that he would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2021. It’s safe to assume that’s the organization’s intention at the moment.

Things can change quickly in the NFL though. As the draft approaches it’s crucial for the Dolphins to scout every player that is potentially worthy of being a top-five pick. That includes several high-profile quarterbacks that already have a lot of fans inside the scouting community. It’s conceivable that Miami could fall in love with a quarterback they scout extensively and change course on the game’s most important position.

How should the Dolphins make their choice?

The answer here is pretty simple. They should scout each of the elite quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class in relation to Tagovailoa.

Simply put, the franchise should make their decision based on acquiring the best possible player when they go on the clock at No. 3.

If Tagovailoa is the best prospect when they make their first round pick, then he remains their quarterback of the present and future. If not, the Dolphins must make a bold sea change that will drastically alter the franchise’s short and long-term futures.

What quarterbacks are worthy of consideration at No. 3?

There are only three quarterbacks that deserve to be considered as such a high draft pick in this year’s class. Trevor Lawrence will almost certainly go off the board to the Jaguars at No. 1. Both Justin Fields and Zach Wilson are also strong bets to be selected in the top-five. There are other talented prospects that will go later in this year’s draft, but none has the right combination of talent and polish to dethrone Tagovaila.

If Lawrence somehow slides down to No. 3 or becomes available in a reasonable trade, the Dolphins simply have to select him. He’s a generational prospect that could turn into one of the game’s most prolific passers. His talent level is on a different plane than Tua’s. Unfortunately for Miami, their chances of Lawrence falling to them in this draft are almost zero. The franchise should spend much more time scouting Fields and Wilson.

Fields offers a more compelling set of athletic skills than Tagovailoa possesses. He’s a big, strong passer who can make big plays with his legs both from the pocket and via designed runs on the perimeter. It will take him time to adjust to an NFL offense coming from a relatively vanilla system at Ohio State, but he’s also got All-Pro potential.

Fields has a much wider range of outcomes as a player than Lawrence, but his advantage over Tagovaila in terms of upside still makes selecting him worth the risk. Fields is the second quarterback in this class that should cause the Dolphins to dump Tua if he’s available at No. 3.

Wilson is the current consensus third-ranked quarterback prospect in this year’s class. He deserves a lot of credit for rising out of relative anonymity to lead his BYU team to a special 2020 season. Accuracy is his biggest strength. He showcased an impressive ability to hit receivers in stride from different arm slots during his days with the Cougars.

Add in Wilson’s impressive ability to make plays on the run and it’s easy to understand the appeal to him as a prospect.

With that being said, he isn’t an impressive enough athlete to tempt the Dolphins into giving up on Tua. In many ways, Wilson is just a lesser version of Tagovailoa as a prospect. Both showcased great accuracy during their collegiate days. Wilson showed excellent ball placement, but Tagovailoa’s performance at Alabama was truly elite in that regard. There just isn’t enough upside in Wilson’s game to justify making such an expensive change at the quarterback position.

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Add it all up and the Dolphins should set their quarterback board and stick with it. Lawrence and Fields have the grades to knock Tua off of his perch. Wilson and the rest of the quarterbacks in this year’s class just don’t offer enough to merit such a momentous decision.