NFL Draft History Suggests Miami Dolphins Probably Can’t Do Better Than Tua Tagovailoa

Since the success rate of quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft remains lower than marriages, the Miami Dolphins are wise to extend Tua Tagovailoa.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — There are 14 or so teams expected to at least consider taking a quarterback early in next week’s NFL Draft, including eight who would be using a first-rounder on a QB for the second time in less than a decade.

The Miami Dolphins aren’t in that boat. Tua Tagovailoa is their guy in 2024.

In fact, Chris Grier hopes he doesn’t have to use a premium pick on a quarterback for a long time. The team will extend Tagovailoa this offseason if the two sides can agree on compensation.

While that plan certainly has some soft spots — Tua has proven he’s more than capable but has not yet proven he’s great — the Dolphins are learning the right lessons from those eight aforementioned peers.

Miami Dolphins Want Out of QB Rat Race

Put simply, the Dolphins have something good. And they have something that’s a whole lot better than the nothing that roughly half the league has on their rosters.

And even if there’s a huge run on quarterbacks next Thursday, with the top six prospects all going in the first round, there’s as good of a chance as not that those teams will be back in this very same place three or four years from now.

Of the 24 quarterbacks drafted in the first round from 2016-2022, 13 are projected 2024 starters, including just 10 with the team that drafted them.

For every Class of 2020 — which saw Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love go in Round 1 — there’s a Class of 2021. Four of the five QBs taken in the first round three years ago are gone from the team that drafted them.

So for as much as fans and media nitpick Tua’s performance through four years, the Dolphins know the odds of finding someone better are poor. For proof, look no further than the team’s history book.

Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have drafted eight quarterbacks, including Tagoaviloa. Tua, in his four NFL seasons, has won 32 of his 51 starts, completed 66.9% of his pass attempts, averaged 7.7 yards per attempt, a 4.9% touchdown rate, and a 2.3% interception rate, and amassed a career passer rating of 97.1.

The other seven QBs, meanwhile, have gone 56-69 with a 62% completion percentage, averaged 6.8 yards per pass, a 3.7% touchdown rate, and a 2.8% interception rate for an 82.9 cumulative rating.

Drafting QBs Remains a Crapshoot

“I think it would be hard to point to the results and say we’ve made progress [in evaluating quarterbacks], as sad as that is,” NFL Media draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said on a call with football writers Wednesday.

“I think the more you look at it, I think there’s more attention being paid now to maybe more so the environment than the actual quarterback, and knowing how to set the table for when you do take the quarterback, that he can be successful,” Jeremiah continued.

“I think that seems to be a conversation I have a lot with teams around the league is, ‘OK, A, do we take him? Then do we put him out there right away? Do we have the infrastructure for him to survive and be successful?’ That seems to be a little bit more of the focus on that.”

Tagovailoa nearly failed in Miami because of the wrong infrastructure. His first coach, Brian Flores, didn’t believe in him and wanted to replace him. The system didn’t fit Tua’s strengths, and the surrounding talent was middling, at best.

When Tua’s environment changed — with, most notably, the arrival of Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill — his performance did. And if the Dolphins make Tua one of the league’s 10 highest-paid players in the coming months, they’re doing so because they believe his best is yet to come.

“He’s trying to do everything he can to do what he can to be great,” Grier said this week. “And that’s been from Day 1 when Mike and him connected here, working through the first season and then making the changes offseason, working through last year, staying healthy, leading the league in passing and now this is his next evolution.

“As Mike has told you guys, we feel like there is a whole other step that he can take, so we’re excited about his future.”

KEEP READING: Exploring Miami Dolphins’ Limited Round 1 NFL Draft Trade Options

And they’re smart to do what they can (within reason, of course) to ensure Tagovailoa has a future in Miami.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

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