Dolphins, DeVante and the Bama Fascination

The Miami Dolphins have been connected to University of Alabama prospects since the start of the so-called draft season
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The 2021 NFL draft arrives and picture this for the Miami Dolphins: wide receiver DeVonta Smith comes to Miami as the sixth overall pick, and he's followed at number 18 by running back Najee Harris.

For good measure, let's throw in one more and have the Dolphins trade a future pick to move back to the top and add wide receiver Jaylen Waddle also.

There you have it.

The whole gang reunited, Tua Tagovailoa's University of Alabama offensive teammates back to work their magic again in the NFL.

It's a can't-miss recipe to launch Tagovailoa toward NFL stardom.

At least that's the way it's being portrayed, to some degree at least, among many Dolphins fans and even some in the media.

But it just doesn't work that way.

And, yes, it's absolutely possible that the Dolphins could end up drafting one or more of Tua's former teammates, but if they do it will be on merit and not because of familiarity and prior connection.

Former NFL and college head coach Jim Mora Jr. was pretty clear about that when he discussed the possibility of the Dolphins taking Smith at number 6 despite a physical stature unlike pretty much any previous successful NFL wide receiver.

"If you take him at 6, they're gonna have specific reasons to justify it because you're gonna go sit in that press conference, you're gonna ask that question," Mora said. "And they won't take him unless they have absolute conviction and I think that people that try to make this connection between Tua and DeVonta, 'Well, they played together in college, let's put them together in the NFL' that's nonsense. I think you know it's nonsense. I think it's nonsense. I think every NFL evaluator thinks it's nonsense. I hope fans realize that at some point that is nonsense.

"The NFL and college football are two totally different things. They'll have a different relationship in the NFL. They'll be doing different things. It’s a different concept. They're playing against different athletes. It's just not the same.”

Research shows that if the Dolphins do end up taking either Smith or Waddle in the first round, it'll mark the first time a team has taken a quarterback in the first round one year and a wide receiver from the same school the next — of course, unless the Bengals beat the Dolphins to it by taking Ja'Marr Chase and former Joe Burrow LSU teammate at number 5.

Seeking a quarterback's former teammate is just not the way teams operate.

For example, the Dolphins never drafted Pitt wide receivers after they selected Dan Marino in 1983. Michigan had two wide receivers taken in the two years after the Patriots drafted Tom Brady, but they didn't go New England. Texas Tech had two wide receivers drafted the year after Kansas City took Patrick Mahomes in 2017, but Keke Coutee went to Houston and Dylan Cantrell went to the Chargers.

Let's be clear, if the Dolphins decide that Smith or Waddle is the best choice at number 6, then they absolutely will and should draft the player. If everything else is equal in the minds of Dolphins scouts and coaches, then they absolutely should favor an Alabama prospect.

But if anybody thinks they're going to make a choice with undue weight based on a previous connection with Tua, that's just silly.

Even though, yes, it does make for a good story.