The NFL draft is now less than a month away. Can you hear the clock ticking?
The stakes are always high, but with a new staff and a different mindset, this draft has even added significance for the Dolphins.
If there is anything that has become evident over the first several weeks of free agency, it is that this team will be built around young players, some already on the roster. But more are on the way and that's why this draft is so important to this growth process. Make the right choices and the timeline to success is shortened.
That's the urgency of the next four weeks when the Dolphins will pare down their lists, re-visit their evaluations and at some point finalize their intentions. But nothing is irreversible at this point. All options remain. That's one of the beauties of the draft. You spend months preparing. You try to anticipate everything that might happen. And then, as it did four Aprils ago for the Dolphins, something totally unforeseen occurs, like left tackle Laremy Tunsil falling into their laps.
Having said all of that, I wasn't sure what we'd hear on Monday from General Manager Chris Grier when he spoke to the media at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix. But one answer clearly resonated the loudest. One thought followed by another and then another.
Grier said he could draft a quarterback this April.
Or next April.
Or both Aprils.
No April Fools. This is a new day for the Dolphins
The commitment to focus on the most important position on the team is indeed in full-throttle mode. Every top young quarterback is being carefully dissected. Interviews are taking place. Backgrounds are being checked. Tapes are being studied. But it isn't just about how they play. It's about who they are and how badly they want it. It's about their internal make-up and about how they are built for the most pressurized moments.
The Dolphins are searching for the entire package and you got the feeling after listening to Grier that they'll keep searching until they find it.
How refreshing is that?
The signing of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was a short-term solution, as Grier reiterated on Monday. But Fitzpatrick also brings value to the young quarterback — or maybe quarterbacks — the Dolphins draft. Value because this will be his 15th season and there isn't much he hasn't seen. Value because Fitzpatrick embraces the role of a mentor and has the smarts and maturity to lead by both words and example.
So the clock is ticking. The NFL draft will soon be here. While nothing is quite clear at this point, and figures to stay that way for a while, at the very least it is comforting to know the Dolphins have their priorities in order.