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Miami Dolphins helmet sits on the field during warmups before a regular season Week 8 NFL football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Texans on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, in Houston. The Texans beat the Dolphins 42-23. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Chris Grier, Dolphins Face Historic Draft

Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is sitting on a pot of gold. On Thursday night, he’ll finally be able to spend it.

The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off with the first round on Thursday, and it could be the draft Dolphins fans have been waiting for since a guy named Dan Marino hung up his cleats. Miami has a whopping 14 selections, a tie for the most picks ever entering a draft, which was originally set in 1997 by… themselves.

While the ’97 draft yielded at least two game-changing talents, the focus of the Dolphins’ franchise and its fandom is firmly fixated on Thursday night. Three of Miami’s 14 picks reside in the first round — for now — and while there is always a level of uncertainty surrounding the NFL Draft, there are some things we can expect on draft night.

For starters, this isn’t your normal draft. COVID-19 shut down the NFL’s plans to hold the draft in Las Vegas, so teams will be conducting the draft from home. Grier, who will be helming the draft via his home in Weston, Florida, has already made adjustments to accommodate the draft’s unusual, yet necessary new demands.

But no matter the circumstances, Grier understands that each draft is a culmination of at least a yearlong process by the organization. Although this year’s process was cut short due to COVID-19, these alterations have allowed Grier and his staff to zone in to the roots of what makes the draft process so great.

Don’t remind Grier, but this year’s draft might not only be the biggest in his four-year tenure as general manager; it could be the turning point for nearly two decades of mediocrity.

Two playoff appearances since 2002 is not the resume of a winning franchise. But in that time frame, Miami has only had four top-ten selections — excluding when they traded up nine spots to No. 3 in 2013. For too long, the Dolphins have been stuck between the NFL’s iteration of a rock and a hard place.

Now is the chance for Miami to break their cycle of being not good enough, but being not quite bad enough, either. They finally have their coach. It’s no secret that Brian Flores did wonders with an underwhelming roster last season.

They spent big in free agency. Holes were filled with lucrative, yet surprisingly team-friendly deals. Exciting new players were brought in to a locker room that really came together toward the end of last season.

All they need is a quarterback. While Ryan Fitzpatrick, 37, exceeded expectations in 2019, he’s not the long-term answer. That answer may lie in the 2020 draft class. As to who it is, reports have been scattered all over the map.

F0r months, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the guy. Just look no farther than the massive fan-initiated ‘Tank for Tua’ campaign.

However, Tagovailoa has since taken a back seat in the rumor mill to Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. Suddenly, it’s no longer Tagovailoa’s team. It could be Herbert’s.

While Tagovailoa and Herbert aren’t the only possibilities for the Dolphins, they are the most talked about. No two players have been connected more to the team in mock drafts, per nflmockdraftdatabase.com.

ESPN insider Adam Schefter echoed these sentiments on ESPN, though he pointed out one player has seemingly emerged as the favorite.

With all the reports connecting Tagovailoa to Miami over the past year, it may be surprising to some to see the organization allegedly switch gears.

To others, it may just be an elaborate cover-up that was designed to shield the Dolphins’ true intentions. Count former Gator and current ESPN host Laura Rutledge among the list of skeptics.

It’s not an outlandish assumption. If you thought everyone knew your deepest secret, wouldn’t you try to change their minds? That could be what Grier and his staff have done here.

Of course, we won’t know for sure what Miami’s plans for Thursday night are. Even if the Dolphins say that they “got their guy,” they could just be saying that. What if a team jumps them for their top target?

Only time will tell how this story unfolds for the Dolphins, though they certainly have the capability to write a great, new chapter for a tortured franchise. And Chris Grier is holding the pen.

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