Since the college football season came to an end, eyes have begun to sift towards the 2020 NFL Draft. Over the next several weeks and months, rumors and speculation will run rampant as fans try to predict what their favorite NFL teams will do come draft day. And already, we have a big one that is circulating around social media – are the Miami Dolphins trying to trade up with the Cincinnati Bengals for the rights to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow?
Before we answer the question, let’s backtrack to how this started. In a recent interview, ESPN’s Adam Schefter fueled talk of a potential trade by casually mentioning that the Dolphins were a quarterback-hungry team with a war chest of draft ammunition.
From there, rumors began to fly on social media because a website reported this as a factual rumor. There was even a trade scenario between the Dolphins and Bengals that was presented as something that was brewing behind the scenes.
However, Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright reports that the Dolphins have no interest in trading up for Joe Burrow nor for the first overall pick. Instead, he says the Dolphins are supposedly in on Alabama Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa and are looking to move up to third overall – or second – if it should be necessary.
But if they wanted to move several high draft picks, Burrow would be the guy to go after. After having a historic college season, he has all but solidified himself as the first overall pick in the draft. The senior quarterback from The Plains, Ohio, led the Tigers (15-0) to their first national title since 2007. He became the first major college quarterback to throw 60 touchdown passes in a season, as LSU snapped defending national champion Clemson’s 29-game winning streak.
Are the Bengals willing to move their first overall pick?
Schefter is correct when saying that Miami has robust ammunition in the coming draft. After a flurry of moves prior to and during the season, the Dolphins now have three first round picks this year (5, 18, 26) and six total picks in the first 70 selections. But would the Bengals be willing to move away from the first overall pick? Probably not.
The initial problem with the Dolphins trading up for the first pick is the fact that there has been zero indication that the Bengals want to make a trade. In fact, it looks more like the organization is already enamored with LSU’s breakout star. Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt was quoted as saying that Burrow has already checked all of the boxes for the Bengals.
“He definitely checks off a lot of boxes early on in the evaluation process,” Van Pelt said. “He obviously looks like a very intriguing guy.”
Their offensive coordinator, Brian Callahan, has also expressed how impressed he is with Burrow.
“He’s got a natural pocket feel. He feels it,” Callahan said. “It seems like he never takes his eyes off, down the field. He extends the play really, really well. He’s a lot faster than you might assume when you see him running away from all those SEC guys. He’s got incredible up-field accuracy. The ball hardly ever hits the ground in a game, which is rare. He just naturally puts the ball in places where those guys can make plays.”
Similar to last year with the Arizona Cardinals, there was little doubt that head coach Kliff Kingsbury wanted to draft Kyler Murray first overall, no matter how hard they tried to hide it. Murray fit with Kingsbury’s system and he had been enamored with him early on. There was a lot of smoke that they would trade back or make a move, but ultimately Murray went to Arizona.
In this situation, Burrow has already impressed the Cincinnati coaching staff, and on top of that, is a player that comes from Ohio. The Bengals need a quarterback and they have one of the highest touted, homegrown superstars in their hands with the first overall pick. They aren’t going to throw that away.
Does Miami have any interest in Burrow?
Since the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, Miami has been connected to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. There was early talk that they were “tanking” for the opportunity to draft him first overall. Ultimately, head coach Brian Flores and this young Dolphins team had little interest in losing. They finished with a 5-11 record, which was better than most expected — and visions of the #1 pick succumbed to the fifth pick instead.
The team made a number of moves to try and gain draft capital in 2020. They traded Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans, Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans, Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals, all for more picks.
When Tagovailoa went down with a serious hip injury in a game against SEC rival Mississippi State, questions began to surface about whether or not he would declare and if he would be ready for the 2020 season. He ultimately declared, but there is still some speculation about his health. Tagovailoa himself has said that doctors are optimistic that he will return to form. But, there is nothing 100% clear at the time being.
“Yeah, I’m optimistic I’ll be able to play this upcoming season.,” Tua said. “But for me, right now, I’m more so worried about getting better soon as possible — see what I can do. If I can do a pro day? If I can’t do a pro day? I mean, and then you know, it’s really all dependent on what the doctors have to say to the teams and what the results that come back.”
The reality is that there are still a lot of questions surrounding Tagovailoa. His injury was a serious one and until general managers and owners get a look at him, speculation will remain. Even Tagovailoa admits his status as that high draft pick is unsettled.
“I don’t think I could tell you that. I don’t think any of the teams could tell you that,” Tua said. “It really depends on how the doctors’ report goes with my MRI, my X-rays at the three-month mark. But then again what factors into this decision, too, was our faith. It’s a leap of it.”
Tagovailoa brings a presence both on and off the field
Any team, including the Dolphins, will have to take a leap of faith selecting Tagovailoa. But with all this talk about how impressive Burrow has been, people seem to forget that Tagovailoa is also a legitimate college prospect. Head coach Nick Saban has praised the young man for what he has been able to accomplish on and off the field.
“Tua has probably had as much of an impact on our program here as any player that we’ve ever had,” Saban said. “And I’m not just talking about as a football player. He’s got great character, he’s a great leader … There’s a spirit about him that’s impacted myself and everyone around him in a very, very positive way.
It is high praise from one of the most storied head coaches in college football. In 32 games over three years, including the final two as Alabama’s starter, Tagovailoa completed 474 of 684 passes (69.3 percent) for 7,442 yards and 87 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, while adding nine rushing scores.
Before Burrow’s sensational season, all eyes were on Tagovailoa. His injury history has put somewhat of a damper on that recently, but he remains one of the most promising college prospects of our time. Miami might in fact need to trade up to grab him, with a number of teams including the Chargers and Jaguars also looking to add a quarterback.
With the first two picks of the draft logically in place, the Detroit Lions or New York Giants might be the team that Miami will have to discuss with to move up. If another team trades up to four, the Dolphins could watch their coveted quarterback slip through their fingers. Either way, it appears that at this time, Tagovailoa is Miami’s guy and not Joe Burrow. Only his health could change that.