DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins found themselves in an interesting scenario Thursday night during an unpredictable first round of the NFL draft.
Because of some unexpected picks, the Dolphins were in a position to take former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 19 overall. Instead, Miami drafted former Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James, who is not a sexy pick but fills a major need on the offensive line.
Manziel was this draft’s biggest lightning rod at the league’s most important position. I talked to several NFL talent evaluators throughout the pre-draft process, and their opinions of Manziel were all over the place. Some feel he has bust potential, and some believe he can become a franchise quarterback. Twenty one teams, including Miami, passed on Manziel until the Cleveland Browns selected him at No. 22 overall.
Did Miami think twice at No. 19 when Manziel was still on the board?
“You can ask the general manager that,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said Thursday night.
Your thoughts, Dennis Hickey?
“With Ja'Wuan James there. ... there was no question that he was going to be the player that we were going to select if we stayed at that pick,” Hickey explained.
But what if Manziel turns out to be a star quarterback? Would the Dolphins, several years from now, regret passing on him?
Miami still is not 100-percent certain what it has in second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a former teammate of Manziel at Texas A&M. Tannehill is 15-17 as a starter and must continue to make strides in Year 3 to prove he is the Dolphins' long-term solution at quarterback.
But passing on Manziel was the right call for the Dolphins, in my opinion. Manziel doesn't fill a need, and he would bring unneeded attention and a potential quarterback controversy. However, if it turns out Tannehill is not the answer and Manziel goes on to be a star in the NFL, some football fans in South Florida might wonder what could have been.