This NFL draft, we find out what Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier thinks. The last draft was about whether he could pick a quarterback and put enough big bad guys on the lines to anchor the future.
These questions are still awaiting an answer. But this project is about something more. It’s about how Grier helps his chosen quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa – on what he thinks is most important to winning football.
Does this team need a dynamic receiver, as many think (raising hand)? Does Grier want another top offensive lineman, as many simulated drafts that litter the landscape say? And would he take a running back in the first round?
You can find a winning model to support your idea. Bill Walsh, for example, won the Super Bowl in San Francisco by building upside down in attack. The receivers were the final pieces. They depended on everyone, he said.
Jimmy Johnson won the Super Bowl in Dallas the other way around. He invested in playmakers in the first round and drafted cogs as offensive linemen later. Dynamic talent goes fast while linemen can be developed, he thought.
The constitution of a team is the prerogative of the architect. And, yes, we are on the verge of regaining Grier’s prerogative. A former general manager who liked the Dolphins going from No.3 pick to No.6 points out that it could cost them the top playmaker in the draft – or perhaps both Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. That’s the risk, he said.
Still, two of Alabama’s top receivers, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, are reportedly available. If we know one thing about Grier, it’s that he likes Alabama players (Tagovailoa, Raekwon Davis, Minkah Fitzpatrick …)
What we don’t know is Grier’s philosophy towards team building. He comes from Bill Parcells football school. Brian Flores is a successful offspring – the Bill Belichick school. A common thread: neither of the two appreciated taking the high receivers in the draft.
Parcells was so upset when New England drafted wide receiver Terry Glenn with seventh pick in 1996, that he said his famous line: “They want you to cook dinner, at least they should let you do your shopping. “
Parcells left New England after that season. He also won a playoff game in his combined 13 years as a football coach or czar with the New York Jets, Dallas and Dolphins after a successful stint with the New York Giants. Coincidence? Or a changed game?
Belichick drafted a first-round receiver during his two decades with New England. It was the imperceptible N’Keal Harry with the 32nd pick in 2019. Belichick won six Super Bowls. He also won them with quarterback Tom Brady, who walked away annoyed with his supporting cast before winning another Tampa Bay title. Is there a lesson there?
Plan A for Grier last year was Tua and three rookie offensive linemen. We’ll know Plan A looks in trouble if this draft goes unexpectedly and Grier uses another first-round pick on a lineman.
Read what you want in fictitious drafts. a NFL.com mock the Dolphins taking Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater at No.6 and Alabama running back Najee Harris at No18. Would the Dolphins be better? Sure. But is this how you build a champion?
Another mockery from ESPN along with former Dolphins vice-president of football (and Grier boss) Mike Tannenbaum got them to take on USC goalie Alijah Vera-Tucker with their second first-round pick. Again, that would improve the team. But is this the best use of resources?
Here’s the overarching question about investing more expensive resources into an offensive lineman: You don’t have to have the best offensive line in the league to win. You can’t have glaring problems like Kansas City starting two backup tackles in the Super Bowl.
But you can win big with good. Solid. In fact, having the best offensive line could hold you back from winning given investment decisions, as the Dallas Cowboys have shown for much of the past decade.
To recover? The question is whether Grier tempers the obvious need against what history shows. In the last 10 draft, only three first-round backers have enjoyed playoff success with their home teams.
Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley, New England’s Sony Michel and Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire were also more than pieces of that team success.
Grier did the only thing winning GMs do. He multiplied the draft picks. It is important. It doesn’t matter as much as having the right quarterback, which is 60% of any GM’s job.
Another great track is what Grier is doing ahead. How does he surround Tua with help? What does he care about? What model does he think he will make a competitor? It should start with a dynamic receiver. But finding out what Grier thinks is the goal of this project.