It has been an open secret for weeks that the Dolphins covet Joe Burrow and would embrace acquiring the Cincinnati Bengals’ first overall draft pick in order to snag the record-setting LSU quarterback.
“They want Joe Burrow. I can’t say that enough,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said three weeks ago.
And the topic has become something of a thing on social media this week, with the league’s website and the executive director of the Senior Bowl weighing in and Burrow suggesting on social media that he likes the Dolphins’ moves in free agency.
A week rife with intoxicating speculation began when Burrow, on Monday night, “liked” a tweet about the Dolphins’ moves in free agency.
Then, on Thursday night, Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted this:
The Dolphins have three picks in the first round (5, 18 and 26) and two in the second (39 and 56).
And then, to top it off, Lance Zierlein — the draft analyst who does the mock draft on the league-owned website — predicted in his NFL.com mock draft that the Dolphins would trade for the first pick to land Burrow.
“If there is any sense in Cincinnati that Burrow doesn’t want to be a Bengal long-term, then the team should listen to offers,” Zierlein wrote. “An NFL executive I consulted with felt that including all three of Miami’s first-round picks in this deal would be too much, so I’m sending Cincy Pick Nos. 5 and 18, as well as second-round selections.”
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But Zierlein also added: “I believe that Joe Burrow is likely headed to the Bengals ... but what if he’s not? Who might come up and make a run for Burrow, and how would a trade at the top impact the rest of Round 1? These are questions I like to ask and answer in early iterations of my mock drafts.”
And then, to top it off, the Bengals tweeted this:
Asked at last month’s NFL Combine if he would play for Bengals if they draft him, Burrow said: “Yeah. I’m not going to not play. I’m a ballplayer. Whoever takes me, I’m going to go show up.”
But Burrow also has expressed admiration for the Dolphins. “I think they have a lot of assets, and it seems like they’ve begun to build a team that can be successful in this league,” Burrow said last month.. ” ... They seem to be doing the right things.”
Meanwhile, a few former Bengals have offered indirect warnings to Burrow about the Bengals history.
“That’s why I wanted out: I never felt like the [Bengals’] organization was really trying to win a Super Bowl, and really chasing the Super Bowl, former Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer told CBS Sports Radio’s Damon Amendolara last month. “Because that’s what today’s day and age is. The game today is you can’t just hope you draft well and not go after free agents and you just end up in the Super Bowl. You gotta go get it.
It’s notable that Palmer’s brother, Jordan Palmer, has been helping train Burrow.
So how could a Dolphins’ bid to procure the No. 1 overall pick have the best chance of success? It would certainly help if Burrow were on board with the plan.
This is purely hypothetical, but Dolphins general manager Chris Grier could convey to Burrow’s agents — Brian Ayrault, Todd France, Tom Condon and Ben Renzin — that the Dolphins would like to try to trade up to get him and ask Burrow if he’s interested and more importantly, willing to tell the Bengals that’s his preference.
Or the Dolphins could try to achieve this, if they chose, during a video conference session with Burrow, which would be permitted under current league rules that prohibit in-person draft visits during the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps Dan Marino and Brian Flores could try to sell Burrow on the merits of the Dolphins and gauge if Burrow is willing to tell the Bengals he would prefer the Dolphins.
Something like, “Hey Joe, it would really help us to convince the Bengals to take our offer if you told them you prefer Miami.”
This would be unorthodox, to be sure, but any attempt to trade up for the top pick would assuredly have a greater chance of success if the Bengals believe he prefers not to play for them.
Whether Burrow would do that remains the great unknown; there has been no indication that he would be unhappy playing for the Bengals.
After all, he attended high school in the Plains, Ohio, and spent three years at Ohio State before transferring to LSU.
How much might it take to move up? The three first-round picks — or two first rounders this year, a second-day pick this year and a first-rounder next year — might be required if the Bengals were even amenable, considering Burrow’s value and the high cost to move up for a quarterback.
In a 2018 trade with the Colts, it cost the Jets the sixth overall pick, the 37th and 49th picks and a 2019 second-round selection simply to move up from sixth to third to draft Sam Darnold.
Why consider trading such a treasure trove of picks for Burrow?
“He’s self-assured and plays with competitive toughness that teammates will gravitate toward instantly,” Zierlein said. “He’s a rhythm passer who benefited from tempo and scheme, but his vision, touch and read recognition made the offense special. He buys time for himself inside the pocket, but creates explosive, off-schedule plays outside of it with his arm or legs.
“He throws with staggering precision and timing, but he recognizes his own arm-strength constraints and is forced to shrink the field accordingly. His 2018 tape and unremarkable physical traits could clutter his evaluation for some, but he appears to be an outlier who simply developed and blossomed beyond those evaluation concerns. He’s a smart quarterback with special intangibles and could become a Pro Bowler if a team tailors its offense to his specific strengths and comfort level.”
Burrow produced one of the best seasons in college football history, leading the country in passing yards (5,671), total offense (6,039 yards), completion percentage (76.3, on 402-of-527 passing) and set an NCAA record with 60 touchdown passes in 15 starts while leading his team to a national championship.
Two other thoughts:
▪ If the Dolphins believe they have a chance of moving up to No. 1, they likely need to find a legitimate starting option at left tackle — such as a trade for Washington’s Trent Williams or Jets free agent Kelvin Beachum — because the 18th pick almost assuredly would be needed in such a trade.
Otherwise, the Dolphins would need to find a left tackle in the second or third round (perhaps TCU’s Lucas Niang, Connecticut’s Matt Peart, Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson, Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanoghu, Washington’s Trey Adams or LSU’s Saahdiq Charles). If Miami could hold onto its pick at No. 26, Southern California’s Austin Jackson would be an option.
▪ Though the Dolphins love two running back options at No. 26 — Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins and Georgia’s D’Andre Swift — they could always find a back on the second day of the draft among Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, FSU’s Cam Akers and LSU’s Clyde Edwards Helaire.
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