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NFL Draft

Dolphins’ Bet On Josh Rosen Wasn’t A Wasted Pick

  • The Draft Network
  • September 5, 2020
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Miami Dolphins fans don't really know what they want other than knowing it's well past time for the team to get the quarterback situation right. And for some fans, the Dolphins' decision to trade for quarterback Josh Rosen during the 2019 NFL Draft seemed like the perfect gamble to take. For others, it felt like a wasted opportunity.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Miami Dolphins' investment and bet on Rosen was a path that perhaps should not haven been taken. And those Dolphins fans who were against the move back then? They'll be sure to tell you how foolish it was now—or point out the players that Dolphins could have had instead.

But Dolphins fans: are you sure the Dolphins would be better off had they not tried to skip the line at quarterback and bet on a former top-10 pick? Because the decision to gamble on the former UCLA quarterback put the Dolphins down the path that ultimately led to the apple of everyone's eye in South Florida, Tua Tagovailoa. And had the Dolphins chose to not trade back in the 2019 NFL Draft's second round and simply picked a player, what is so say Miami's end result would have been the same?

It likely wouldn't have been.

Part of the appeal for the Rosen deal was that the Dolphins traded back in the second round, dropping to the 62nd overall pick and adding an additional 2020 second-round selection, which would go on to become Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis this past spring. Miami entered the 2019 NFL Draft with two second-round choices between the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts and they exited the 2019 NFL Draft with two second-round choices (both in 2020) plus a cheap bet on Rosen. But let's assume, with the gift of hindsight, that the Dolphins didn't execute that chain of events and instead drafted a player. A pair of successful rookie offensive linemen were available, center Erik McCoy and guard Max Scharping. Standout receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf were also on the board. Yes, any of the four would have helped the Dolphins' production throughout the 2019 season.

But that's the catch. Because the Dolphins were literally just bad enough to claim the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and position themselves to draft Tagovailoa, an additional win, which would have very easily come against a bad Washington team in Week 6, would have plummeted the Dolphins from fifth in the 2020 NFL Draft order to eighth. Remember: Rosen started that football game for the Dolphins and was pulled late in the third quarter with the Dolphins trailing 17-3. Miami went on to run off 13 unanswered points and attempted a two-point conversion to win the game with just seconds remaining after re-installing Ryan Fitzpatrick into the offense. Had Fitzpatrick started and played the whole game (he was 12-18 passing for 132 yards and a touchdown in just over one quarter of play), the Dolphins would have easily won the contest. And Miami would've picked eighth, behind the Los Angeles Chargers and another quarterback hungry team in the Carolina Panthers.

In reality, the Dolphins drafted Tagovailoa at No. 5, the Chargers landed Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert at No. 6 and the Panthers drafted Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at No. 7. So Miami's bet on Rosen can't so simply be viewed at as a "waste" of a second-round pick because the chain reaction that followed the trade back in the 2019 NFL Draft directly contributed to the Dolphins being in the position they were to luck into drafting Tagovailoa a year later. Miami getting a plus contributor with that deferred pick in 2019 and subsequently starting Fitzpatrick for the entire season would have changed the shape and direction of the Dolphins' rebuild completely.

So, Dolphins fans, don't just ask yourself if you would rather have McCoy or the failed experiment that was Rosen. Instead ask yourself which end result you'd rather have.

Reality

  • QB Josh Rosen
  • DL Raekwon Davis
  • QB Tua Tagovailoa

A "No Josh Rosen" Scenario

  • OL Erik McCoy (or another 2019 second-round rookie)
  • QB Justin Herbert or Jordan Love

There are those who will advocate for NFL teams to swing the bat at a quarterback each and every year until they find a hit. It seems as though, at least for the first two years of the Chris Grier and Brian Flores era in Miami, that the team certainly buys into that line of thinking. By swinging the bat twice, the Dolphins have given themselves twice as many opportunities to find a hit. And, just as importantly, because the Dolphins were able to double their second-round picks via the trade back ahead of dealing for Rosen, the team's opportunity cost was greatly diminished.

The Dolphins' didn't necessarily lose that pick, they deferred it for 12 months for a shot at picking up a talented arm who played in a bad environment in 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals. That low opportunity cost made it an even easier decision to double down at quarterback and draft Tagovailoa, too. The team invested a significant asset to acquire Rosen, but in reality they weren't on the hook for bad money and they weren't emotionally tied to the player.

Miami, of course, couldn't have possibly known the weight of the decision when they made it in 2019. But the team made the best possible decision they could for the future of the quarterback situation based on the information they had at the time. And, based on the information we have now, it was the right call—just not in the ways the Dolphins may have intended at the time.

Fans of the team bemoaning the decision to invest in Rosen both at the time of the decision and now with the benefit of hindsight have every right to do so; but only if they're equally comfortable with the ability of Jordan Love or Justin Herbert to bring the Dolphins out of the waters of mediocrity. Given the fanfare Tagovailoa has received from the fan base since the moment his name was read off the card by commissioner Roger Goodell in April, there probably aren't too many who can claim that to be the case. So be careful what you wish for, Dolphins fans.

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