The Miami Dolphins had the team's most successful draft in decades, proving owner Stephen Ross made the right call by putting brothers who know football in charge. General manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores landed one of the best defensive tackles in the first round in Clemson's Christian Wilkins, stocked up on draft picks for next year, and traded next to nothing for Josh Rosen, the franchise's best quarterback since Dan Marino.
The Arizona Cardinals put Rosen, the team's first-round pick last year, on the market after drafting 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, a signal-caller with a more promising future, according to sports pundits. Knowing the Dolphins desperately need a quarterback, Arizona's front-office geniuses thought they could sucker Miami's top brass into giving up a first-round pick in exchange for Rosen.
Instead, Grier and Flores bluffed like hustlers playing a poker game at NW 64th Street and 15th Avenue. They got Rosen for a late second-round pick acquired from the New Orleans Saints and a fifth-round pick in 2020. The Dolphins now have a star quarterback who's ready to silence critics such as the Miami Herald's Omar Kelly and Armando Salguero. At his introductory press conference, Rosen said if the chip on his shoulder got any bigger, he might tip over.
Plus, the Dolphins added first-round pick Wilkins, an all-star who shares Rosen's strong charisma and confidence. Miami actually got two first-round picks. All the moves Grier and Flores are making will pay off in the next two years. By 2021, the Dolphins will go deep into the playoffs.
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The only thing missing is signing a college player who didn't get drafted because of alleged character issues such as former University of Miami star Gerald Willis III. He was one of the best defensive tackles coming out of college not to get drafted — maybe due to off-field disputes at the University of Florida and in Coral Gables. But then he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens. Had the Dolphins grabbed him, they would have had two of the best defensive tackles in football. That is the kind of move the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick would make. If you want to win, you have to put up with some headaches.
When he bought the Dolphins in 2009, Ross relied heavily on then-vice president of operations Bill Parcells, who abruptly resigned a year later. Ross kept Parcells' protégé, Jeff Ireland, as general manager for another three years before finally firing him in 2013. More recently, Mike Tannenbaum — another Parcells crony — served as the Dolphins' executive vice president of football operations until December, when Ross reassigned him. These guys brought in coaches who relied on the old-boy network. They drafted only players represented by their own agents or agents who were their pals.
Grier is often described as a Parcells protégé too. But that's not entirely accurate. He joined the Dolphins as a team scout in 2000 under then-head coach and general manager Dave Wannstedt. His father is Bobby Grier, the Houston Texans' associate director of pro personnel. Bobby Grier also worked several years in various roles for the six-time world champion Patriots. If anything, Chris Grier learned what not to do from Parcells, Ireland, and Tannenbaum.
Dolphins president and chief executive Tom Garfinkel's fingerprints are all over the team's new direction. He doesn't play politics and the who-you-know game. He puts the best people in place to do the job. And for the 2019-20 Dolphins, those people are Grier and Flores.