Friday produced one of the most hectic moments of the offseason and that's saying something considering the amount of transactions that have occurred in the first 10 days of the mew league year.
The Miami Dolphins have been at the forefront of the chaos. It all started on Aug. 31, 2019. The Dolphins, in clear rebuild mode, decided to move on from franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The Houston Texans, which had their franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, needed to improve the offensive line. They paid a pretty penny to get Tunsil, giving up 2020 and 2021 first-round picks, along with a 2021 second-rounder as the most significant picks involved in the package.
Was it a reach for Houston? Perhaps. But Tunsil is an elite pass-blocker and Houston figured they would be selecting somewhere in the 25-32 range for the next two years. Fast forward to this past season, and the Texans finished 4-12, giving Miami the third pick in the draft. The Dolphins, on the other hand, were one win away from making the playoffs, and with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the helm, they don't need a quarterback in the upcoming draft. It turns out this is one of the best quarterback classes in recent memory, and with a lot of teams in need of a franchise player at the position, it appeared as if a trade was inevitable.
The 49ers decided to pull the trigger, not wanting another team to get to Miami first. They gave up the 12th pick in the draft, 2022 first- and third-round picks (the latter an expected compensatory choice) and a 2023 first-round pick. It sounds like a lot on paper, but it is hard to put a price tag on the most valuable position in sports.
49ers general manager John Lynch has always been aggressive, but this has been his most significant move so far. San Francisco has claimed that Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starter in 2021, and he is a competent quarterback, However, because of his injury history and contract, the move makes sense. It appears he will be a bridge quarterback at best at least until the fan base starts getting antsy next season.
What some might question is, why moving up to No. 3? Often, a team will need to move up to the first or second choice to get their guy, but this class is special. Even though Lynch was at Zach Wilson's Pro Day at the time the deal went public, so was New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. It is difficult to expect them to go in a different direction than Wilson.
The Jaguars, who hold the first pick, are expected to take Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. He is the safest quarterback prospect in years. After Lawrence and Wilson, Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trey Lance of North Dakota State are likely next. Fields was a five-star recruit, lost two starts in his college career and has a decorated resume'. Lance, although from the FCS level, had one of the greatest seasons from a redshirt freshman ever in 2019. He passed for 28 touchdowns with no interceptions, didn't lose a game, and has all the tools to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. Either one of them would be prime candidates to go first overall in a different draft.
Even though Fields is an exceptional talent, it appears as if the 49ers will go with Lance. The raw tools are enticing, and with a head coach like Kyle Shanahan, he could be a perennial Pro-Bowl pick. There are a lot of wild-cards that could throw off this pick. The Jets may pass on a quarterback. They could take Fields or Lance at two, giving the 49ers a chance to draft Wilson. The Eagles tried to trade up to three to take Wilson before the Dolphins went with the 49ers' offer, so perhaps Wilson to New York isn't set in stone. Most likely, the draft goes: Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, but anything is possible.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins weren't done for the day. After acquiring the 12th pick, they traded with the Philadelphia Eagles, giving up 12 and the 2022 first they received from the 49ers for the sixth overall pick. This was a surprise, but the Dolphins likely their eye on one of the other blue-chip players in the draft. It could be for either tight end Kyle Pitts or one of the top three receivers. Miami needs a threat to pair with Tua Tagovailoa, and they were willing to part ways with one of those first-rounders to get him. Atlanta, which has the fourth pick, most likely will go quarterback or Pitts, and the Bengals at five, look like they are going with tackle Penei Sewell or wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. If Miami is eyeing DeVonta Smith, Tagovailoa's favorite target from college, they can feel comfortable he will be available. Consider they still have the 18th pick in the first round, and two second-round choices this year. It is an excellent day to be a Dolphins fan.
Today was a win-win-win for all parties involved. All in all, the Dolphins could end up getting the player they would have taken at three, while adding a 2023 first in the process. Philadelphia got the Dolphins' first-round pick in 2022 to move back six spots this year. The move takes them out of the quarterback market, but that doesn't mean they won't use that extra first to go up and get one next year. San Francisco gave up a lot, but they will be able to select a franchise quarterback. If he pans out, they will have struck gold, and all the draft capital they traded away will be worth it.
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