Dolphins don’t draft QB, leaving Tannehill’s status secure
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins have been saying all offseason that Ryan Tannehill will be their starting quarterback in 2018, and the draft didn’t change that.
Miami still has used a first-round pick on a QB only once since 1984 — and that was Tannehill six years ago. The Dolphins didn’t add a QB with any of their other seven draft choices this week, either.
“As always in the draft, a couple of guys went before we picked,” general manager Chris Grier said Saturday. “There were some players that we liked, but we weren’t going to reach for any player.”
With no rookie QB, veterans Brock Osweiler and David Fales will compete for the backup role. The job could be vital because Tannehill has suffered two major left knee injuries in the past 18 months and missed all of last season.
He’s expected to be ready for offseason drills, but doubts linger about his durability — and ability. He turns 30 this summer, has a 37-40 record and has never taken a postseason snap.
But the Dolphins are comfortable with their quarterback situation, including Osweiler and Fales as backups, executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said.
“They’re young and still have plenty of time to get developed,” he said.
Here are things to know about the positions Miami did upgrade in the draft following a 6-10 season:
In less than 24 hours, tight end went from a need to one of the deepest positions.
The Dolphins took Mike Gesicki of Penn State in the second round, the highest pick they’ve used on a tight end since 1974. Then they added Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe in the fourth round.
“Different chess pieces,” Grier said.
Smythe is considered the better blocker but had only 28 career receptions in college.
New Miami running back Kalen Ballage tied an FBS record with eight touchdowns in a game for Arizona State against Texas Tech in 2016. That must sound especially good to the Dolphins, who totaled four touchdowns rushing all of last season.
Ballage, the Dolphins’ second fourth-round pick, provides depth behind starter Kenyan Drake and newly acquired veteran Frank Gore, who turns 35 next month.
In the sixth round, the Dolphins drafted Southern Miss defensive back Cornell Armstrong. They made two seventh-round picks: linebacker Quentin Poling of Ohio and kicker Jason Sanders of New Mexico.
Sanders becomes the front-runner to replace Cody Parkey, who signed with the Chicago Bears.
Third-round pick Jerome Baker of Ohio State is an undersized linebacker at 225 pounds, but the Dolphins love his speed and coverage ability. Grier said they weren’t in the market for a 250-pounder to line up on the strong side.
“Some of those are like the way of the dinosaur,” Grier said.
First-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick , an All-America safety from Alabama, gives Miami a timely boost in the back side of the defense. Two AFC East rivals used the opening round to add a quarterback: The Jets took Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold with the third pick, and the Bills took Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the seventh pick.
Miami took Fitzpatrick in the 11th slot.
“For me he was probably one of the top five or six players in the draft,” Grier said.
This was the third draft together for Grier, Tannenbaum and coach Adam Gase, and they continued a trend of choosing only FBS players.
The Dolphins didn’t draft a defensive tackle to reinforce their rotation after they released five-time Pro Bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh. Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor return, and a free agent signing is likely.
“We’re very confident we’ll keep adding depth to that position,” Grier said.
That’s also true elsewhere.
“There will be opportunities to improve,” Tannenbaum said. “We feel like we’re going in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”