Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores pushed back Thursday morning against a published report suggesting part of the reason for inserting Tua Tagovailoa into the starting lineup was to evaluate the possibility of having to take another quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft.
Flores began answering a question about shorter quarterbacks in light of Tagovailoa's upcoming matchup against the Arizona Cardinals and 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray when he changed course and addressed the story by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
"There’s a couple of things out there, let’s call it a source close to Dolphins thinking is saying that, that we’re auditioning Tua," Flores said. "I’m just going to tell you about MY thinking. Look, we brought Tua here because we believe in him, same as all the other draft picks. We believe in developing players and I think guys have heard me talk about improving the players on a daily basis. That would be the opposite of giving somebody a 10-game audition. So … that’s my thinking on that just so everybody is clear.”
Tagovailoa's first NFL start last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams was less than overwhelming, as he completed 12 of 22 passes for only 93 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the Dolphins' 28-17 victory at Hard Rock Stadium.
Tagovailoa had only one completion longer than 10 yards, a 15-yard hook-up with wide receiver Jakeem Grant.
The Dolphins will have two picks in each of the first two rounds, thanks to the 2019 trade that sent offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans.
With the Texans off to a 1-6 start, there's a distinct possibility the Dolphins could end up with a high first-round pick for a second consecutive year.
Schefter wrote: The Dolphins need to know what they have in Tagovailoa as they enter the 2021 draft with two picks in each of the first two rounds, courtesy of their trade last year that sent left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans.
"That's definitely a part of it," one source close to the Dolphins' thinking told ESPN, regarding Miami's recent decision to replace popular veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick with Tagovailoa. "Whoever told you that is right."
Flores said he would be comfortable with whatever he sees from Tagovailoa over the final 10 games of the 2020 season.
“Yes. I’m comfortable with what comes out of these 10 games," Flores said. "Since I’ve been here, I think everybody’s heard me talk about the development of players, improvement on a daily basis, so I just don’t see how someone close to Dolphins thinking could say that this would be a 10-game audition. Not sure where or who that came from ... so just put that out there.”