Is Fields at 3 a Far-Fetched Idea?

The Miami Dolphins will have a lot of options with the third overall pick and one national media figure thinks they should use it on Justin Fields
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Tua Tagovailoa continues to elicit strong opinions from all sides.

Not long after former teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick and former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr. sang Tua's praises, national sports talk show host Colin Cowherd went the other direction.

In fact, he suggested the Miami Dolphins should select  quarterback Justin Fields with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, one year after they took Tagovailoa with the fifth overall selection.

Taking a quarterback in the top 10 in consecutive years has been done before, and Dolphins fans should be well aware because it involved Josh Rosen, who was picked 10th in 2018 before the Arizona Cardinals took Kyler Murray at No. 1 the next year and traded Rosen to Miami.

It also was done in the early 1980s when the Baltimore Colts took quarterbacks not in the top 10 but in the top five in back-to-back drafts — Art Schlichter at number 4 in 1982 and John Elway first overall in 1983.

"If I'm Miami. I'm not sure I'm giving up that pick and I'm not so sure I'm not drafting Justin Fields because I don't want to get trapped," Cowherd said on his national radio show this week. "Listen, Miami could first just take a mulligan on this, and do what Arizona did, say, we drafted a pocket guy, the league's changing, we're gonna go with Kyler Murray. You could do that with Justin Fields.

"Justin Fields is bigger than Tua, stronger than Tua, faster than Tua , a bigger high-end arm than Tua, he’s a better athlete than Tua."

Cowherd goes on to make the point that the Dolphins may not be in this kind of draft position again for a long time, and there's a lot of validity to that.

For sure, the Dolphins don't want to be in that position again for a long, long time — unless it's the result of another trade like the one that involved Laremy Tunsil and the Houston Texans.

There are four prospects in the 2021 draft seen as potential franchise-type quarterbacks, possibly five if you throw in Mac Jones from Alabama.

The four are Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Fields.

Lawrence and Wilson are pretty universally recognized as the top two at the position, and there's some debate as to whether Lance or Fields should be next.

The question the Dolphins have to ask themselves is whether Lance or Fields would constitute a significant upgrade over Tagovailoa.

Actually, the more basic question is: What is Tagovailoa's ceiling as an NFL quarterback?

This is where Tua fans will jump in and talk about his great ceiling, based on what he did at Alabama and the obstacles he had to overcome as a rookie, namely coming back from his 2019 hip injury with the lack of OTAs and preseason games.

But the other top rookie quarterbacks in 2020 also didn't have the benefit of OTAs or preseason games, and both Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert showed enough franchise-type qualities that no questions have surfaced about the future of either in Cincinnati or Los Angeles, respectively.

"I know (Tua is) a rookie, and I know he's a kid, I get that," Cowherd said. "But Joe Burrow looked good by Week 2. By Week 2, Joy (co-host Joy Taylor) and I were like, Woah! Tua under pressure is bad — 45 passer rating 43% completion percentage. He is a player that you have to have a play designed for, and you can win games that way. That's very Jared Goff, but the Rams moved off Jared Goff and Arizona moved off Josh Rosen. That pocket guy where it's all got to be perfect ... football is not perfect anymore. The athletes are getting bigger and stronger on the defensive front. Offensive lines have less practice time; they're mostly getting worse."

But here's an important point that Cowherd makes that is easy to get lost if Tua fans immediately get up in arms about the suggestion of drafting another quarterback: Drafting Fields does not necessarily mean he'll be the starter in 2021 and that Tua won't be on the team anymore.

Having Fields on the roster along with Tua gives the Dolphins another option when it comes to a long-term franchise quarterback.

There's nothing keeping the Dolphins, for example, from trading either Fields or Tua at some point if both look promising in training camp and the preseason.

The bottom line from here is this: The Dolphins need to maximize the value of that third overall pick, and the great value lies in the availability of blue-chip quarterback prospects.

Whether that means trading down a few spots and picking up another premium pick — ideally a 2022 first-round selection — or taking another young quarterback will be up to the Dolphins to decide.

And that's going to come down to how they truly feel about Tagovailoa.

And the Dolphins aren't about to declare publicly that they have reservations about Tua — if they do — because all it would do is potentially diminish his trade value or plant doubt in his mind if ultimately the decision is made to move forward with him.

So what Brian Flores said a few weeks back about being excited to work with Tua was exactly what he was supposed to say and what he needed to say at that time.

Also remember that the Dolphins usually were complimentary of Rosen's progress throughout the final weeks of the 2019 season and they cut him the next summer.

Actions speak louder than words, you know.

If the Dolphins are fully confident that Tua will take the next step and become an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL, then the conversation is moot.

But if they have their doubts, they owe it to themselves to get the quarterback position right — even if that means doubling down on the position.

"I just don't want to be trapped," Cowherd said. "You can move Justin Fields. Think about this, next year is a bad college quarterback draft. If you have Justin Fields in camp, and you've shown him off in preseason, and he's a couple of times had to come in for Tua and looked pretty good, you're going to get your pick back. If you wanted to move him, you'll get value back.

"But if you move and give this pick this number 3 pick to Carolina, you go in with Tua, and it doesn't work, what are you left with? You're in a division with the best football coach ever, Bill Belichick, and a quarterback that looks every bit as good as Patrick Mahomes named Josh Allen, and you're stuck with a 5-11 1/2 guy that can't work off script. I don't know. If I’m Miami, I'm not moving that pick, I'm taking Justin Fields."

Cowherd, by the way, isn't the first national media personality to suggest the possibility of the Dolphins taking a quarterback at number 3.

SI NFL Senior Reporter Albert Breer and NFL Network analyst (and former scout) Daniel Jeremiah both said the Dolphins should evaluate the position to determine  whether they need to take a quarterback again.

So the idea absolutely, positively is not far-fetched.

If we're taking about maximizing the value of the position, you even can make the argument that taking a quarterback is the best way of doing that.

And if you have doubts about your starter, then it becomes even more enticing.

It's all about making the team better.