The expectation is that the Dolphins will select a quarterback in the draft's first round, sources told ESPN. But which one? Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love are the top four quarterbacks in the class, and there are paths (some wide, some small) for the Dolphins to end up with any of them.
Today we begin a four-part series analyzing each top quarterback prospect and his chances of landing in Miami, especially considering that the Dolphins are armed with three first-round picks and 14 total selections.
We start with Burrow.
ESPN's Adam Schefter said he expects the Cincinnati Bengals will listen to calls from other teams but ultimately will draft Burrow with the No. 1 pick.
Pre-draft buzz has percolated in recent weeks, with The Miami Herald reporting that the Dolphins will attempt to trade up for Burrow. ESPN's Todd McShay also reported the Dolphins' interest in trading up for Burrow.
That has created some panic among Bengals fans, increased intrigue among Dolphins fans and led to juicy discussions for sports radio and TV shows.
That's a great spot for our first question: Is an ambitious trade up for Burrow a realistic option?
So you're saying there's a chance Miami gets Burrow?
ESPN's NFL Nation Bengals reporter, Ben Baby, provided perspective on whether the idea of Miami moving up from No. 5 is a pipe dream or if a Burrow trade has some legs.
Baby: "The odds of the Bengals trading down from the top overall pick are incredibly slim. How slim? I'm not sure how many zeroes I need to the right of the decimal point to properly quantify the likelihood of that happening. Cincinnati is looking for its next franchise quarterback, and Burrow, who hails from the Buckeye State, is the most logical option. Sure, the Bengals like Herbert. But in many ways, they can't really afford to draft anyone besides Burrow. On the field, Cincinnati can't squander the opportunity to find the successor to Andy Dalton. Also, when it comes to filling Paul Brown Stadium, anybody but Burrow will be a nearly impossible sell for a franchise that just saw its lowest home attendance since 1993."
Some league executives told ESPN that a Dolphins trade for Burrow is unlikely, given all that goes into it, but it's not impossible.
The Dolphins like Burrow a lot, according to sources. Plus, Burrow would be happy to play in Miami if it works out that way, another source said.
Given Burrow's amazing 2019 season at LSU, tantalizing swagger and lack of red flags (unlike some other top prospects), there's a good chance that he's the No. 1 quarterback on the Dolphins' board. Hence, if Miami takes a swing to try to get Burrow, it should not come as a surprise. But attempting that move is different from succeeding at it.
This situation could be compared to someone desiring to purchase a rare Lamborghini. You try to figure out the car's price and how to get it, but you quickly find out that vehicle is not on the market. End of discussion and pursuit. But even if the car were shockingly available for the right price, you would have to weigh a bold, asset-crippling move versus finding another high-quality car and using the extra resources on other needs. In the Dolphins' case, the high-quality car might be Tagovailoa, Herbert or Love, and the other needs are offensive linemen, running back, safety and front-seven players.
How much would it take for the Dolphins to move up?
Let's say the odds roll in the Dolphins' favor and the Bengals are willing to give up a chance to take their hometown hero in exchange for a load of picks that includes the No. 5 pick. What would it take to get a deal done between Cincinnati and Miami?
ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, who played in the league and spent 13 years working in NFL front offices, said it would take a "ridiculous haul" for the Bengals to trade the No. 1 pick to Miami.
"Considering where I am with my program, if I'm the Cincinnati Bengals, knowing that I need a franchise quarterback and I may have my eyes set on the one that I want, what would it take for me to move out of there? Quite honestly, it'd probably take two ones, two twos in order for me to get out of there," Riddick said. "If you're Miami, does that mean we swap spots in the first round, then we take your other two first-round picks as well? We take 18 and [No. 26]? Do we then take a two as well? Do we take a two in 2021? If you want me to move out of there, two ones and twos is where we start."
NFL teams have twice traded up from No. 5 to the No. 1 pick. The 1995 Bengals traded a No. 5 and a second-round pick (No. 36) to take running back Ki-Jana Carter. The 2001 Atlanta Falcons traded a No. 5, a third-round pick, a 2002 second-round pick and receiver Tim Dwight to take quarterback Michael Vick at No. 1.
But we're in a different era in which the costs have increased.
Griffin III trade: Washington got the No. 2 overall pick for the No. 6 overall pick, two second round-picks, a 2013 first-round pick and a 2014 first-round pick.
Goff trade: Los Angeles got the No. 1 overall pick, a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick in exchange for the No. 15 overall pick, two second-round picks, a third-round pick, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 third-round pick.
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has reiterated all offseason that they have the assets to "do anything we want." He's right. If the Bengals are willing to do a deal and the Dolphins are willing to do whatever it takes to get Burrow, then Miami has enough draft capital to do it.
But for a rebuilding team with many holes to plug, does giving up three first-round picks and more -- much like with the RGIII deal -- make sense? Does giving up two first-rounders, two second-rounders and more -- much like the Goff trade or what Riddick suggested -- make sense?
Would a godfather offer by the Dolphins, such as shipping No. 5, No. 18, No. 39, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick be enough for the Dolphins to draft No. 1?
Those are questions Miami's front office will have to answer if it can draw the Bengals' interest.
It's unlikely that the Dolphins will move up, but it's not impossible. The buzz will continue as the draft draws closer, and Miami seems set on making an attempt. But don't count on it yet, Dolphins fans, and it's too early to stress, Bengals fans.