MIAMI -- It's not a secret that the Miami Dolphins are ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill and in the market for a quarterback. The one name that keeps coming up as an answer: Oklahoma's Kyler Murray.
Drafting Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner who has quickly become the most interesting player in pre-draft conversations, would quickly provide an exciting face for the Dolphins' rebuild. Several mock drafts, including ones done by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, have predicted Murray to Miami at pick No. 13. Many sportsbooks have listed the Dolphins as the betting favorites to land Murray.
As the NFL combine begins this week, talk about Murray, quarterback prospects and the Dolphins' plans will heat up in Indianapolis. Let's examine this scenario and whether these sides are a fit.
The success of Baker Mayfield, who comes from the same college and has a similar playing style as Murray, makes the Murray-to-Miami connection heat up, given that the Dolphins liked Mayfield in the previous draft. Coach Brian Flores, general manager Chris Grier and offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea value winners and playmakers, and Murray led the Sooners to a Big 12 title and the College Football Playoff. He's arguably the most exciting playmaker in this draft.
Questions about Murray's height and weight have dominated talk over the past week. But interviews might have an even bigger impact on how the Dolphins and other teams view Murray.
There is little question about Murray's talent. He has a rare combination of athleticism, accuracy and playmaking ability. He is also competing with Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins to be the top quarterback in April's draft. It wouldn't be a surprise if Murray and Haskins are selected before pick No. 13, requiring the Dolphins to trade up if they want to get either.
It's not clear yet how Grier feels about Murray or the rest of the 2019 quarterback prospects, though he mentioned this offseason that the Dolphins are actively evaluating the group. Miami had several interviews with quarterback prospects at the Senior Bowl, with senior advisor Dan Marino in those rooms helping Grier.
Grier often mentions the principles of Bill Parcells, one of his mentors, as helping him in his current role. He brought up Parcells again recently when discussing how he goes about the NFL combine.
"It's the old 'Parcellism.' It's the underwear Olympics," Grier said in an interview with the Dolphins team site. "People fall in love with guys that work out well in shorts when no one is hitting them. So you fall in love. So for me, yeah, the 40[-yard dash] is nice, it brings all the attention, everyone wants to see it. But for me, it's the interview process. That's very important for us to make sure you get the right types of [people] in the organization and find out their level of maturity, intelligence in terms of football and just how they interact with people."
Why is Parcells important to the Murray-Dolphins connection? Well, it's worth wondering whether Grier will try to abide by Parcells' rules for drafting a quarterback:
Be a three-year starter
Be a senior in college
Graduate from college
Start 30 games
Win 23 games
Post a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio
Tally a completion rate of 60 percent or higher
Murray checks only the last two boxes, though it's worth noting that he blows each of those away, with his 50/14 touchdown-to-interception rate and 67.4 percent completion rate. In an era when college transfers happen more often and top quarterbacks rarely stay four years, these requirements have become harder to reach.
Miami added two key executives with histories of helping evaluate their team's future franchise quarterbacks: assistant general manager Marvin Allen (previously national scout with the Buffalo Bills, who took Josh Allen in 2018) and senior personnel executive Reggie McKenzie (previously general manager with the Oakland Raiders, who drafted Derek Carr in 2014). Their input, along with Grier's philosophy, could allow the Dolphins to drift from Parcells' requirements. It's a new Dolphins coaching staff led by Flores, and they will have significant influence on what type of quarterback they want to lead their team.
O'Shea said he has a "tremendous amount of respect" for Tannehill. He mentioned that the longtime Dolphins quarterback had been a problem for New England to defend because of his athleticism and ability to extend plays. Injuries have sapped some of that ability, and the Dolphins are expected to move on from Tannehill this offseason. The final decision could be made within the next month, with a Tannehill trade or release being the most likely options.
It's not clear yet whether Miami's quarterback of the future will join the team next month via free agency or trade or in April via the draft, but as the NFL combine approaches, we are learning some of what the Dolphins are looking for in a signal-caller.
"The intangibles are most important to us. Obviously, leadership is very important -- work ethic," O'Shea said. "The quarterback position is a unique position because there's a lot of pressure that goes on with that position, and he has to be your greatest ambassador on your football team. He carries the message that you want to have offensively."
Dolphins assistant head coach/QB coach Jim Caldwell mentioned the importance of finding a quarterback who can quickly pick up the new NFL language, translate that to his game and play.
The Murray-to-Dolphins buzz isn't stopping anytime soon. Grier, Flores & Co. have two months to decide if Murray is a fit and worth the resources it will take to get him.