When General Manager Chris Grier addressed the media at the Senior Bowl this week, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a lot of the conversation centered around the quarterback position.
Grier again stressed the importance of the Dolphins finding a franchise quarterback, said he fully expects veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to be back with the team in 2020 and expressed his satisfaction at Josh Rosen's progress throughout his first season with the team.
Responding to a suggestion that he's under pressure from owner Stephen Ross to find a franchise quarterback, Grier said that's a team-wide goal.
"That's from all of us," Grier said. "We'd like to find the right guy to be the quarterback. You see how important it is around the league. I wouldn't just say it's Steve. It's Brian (Flores), myself, everyone. Coaching staff. Scouts. We think it's important that we find the right guy who could be the quarterback here for a long time."
Grier listed the qualities he wants that potential franchise quarterback to possess, and they include a lot of intangibles.
"When you're talking about the quarterback position, a lot of the intangibles are what separates a lot of guys," he said. "You hear stories now even when they talk about, like, Tom Brady coming out didn't have great arm strength or Drew Brees, but those guys are some of the all-time best to ever play the game. You look at everything, everyone's skill set. At the end of the day, do they win games? Are they leaders? Are they football smart? The intangibles, the character and stuff plays a big part at the position, but also at any position. There's a lot of guys that get overlooked. Zach Thomas is a perfect (example). Zach was too small, too slow and stuff, but yet he's one of the best linebackers to play in the history of the Dolphins and is being considered for the Hall of Fame, which is great for him."
The one quarterback about whom Grier was specifically asked about at the Senior Bowl is one who is not at the Senior Bowl, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama.
The left-hander has been linked to the Dolphins since last offseason, but he's a bit of a mystery at the start of draft season because of the hip injury that cut short his 2019 season.
"We're still so early in this process," Grier said. "We haven't met him, haven't sat down with him or talked to him. Our doctors haven't seen him. We know as much as you do right now. We see the media reports and things of that nature, but at the end of the day we've got to get to know the guys, get in front of him, just like another player. We're very, very early in the stage with the fact that we haven't met the guy yet.
"The way people talk, he's been a winner. The fact that he won the Elite 11 and goes to Alabama, has the kind of storybook coming off the bench winning the national championship. Everyone always talks about his accuracy, etc., and they talk about the person as well, the intangibles that we talked about. Looking forward to get to meet him just like a lot of players. There's a lot of good players in this draft and even some other quarterbacks he's competing with. I'm looking forward to the next couple of months."
Among the quarterbacks who are at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, this week are potential first-round selections Justin Herbert from Oregon and Jordan Love from Utah State.
Grier is happy for the chance to watch those two — and all the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl — this week.
"For us, it's always about the first step," Grier said. "This is the first meeting. You can actually sit down and talk to them and kind of begin to figure out who they are and what makes they tick. In terms of practice, it's a competition. I love the fact Herbert, Love and those guys have come down here to compete, just like in the past when Baker (Mayfield) and Josh Allen, those guys all came down. It's good to see them in a competitive situation and they're all on equal footing. They're all learning a new playbook, everything. That's the thing you like about the Senior Bowl and appreciate those guys coming down here to compete."
The Dolphins' quarterback room in 2019 included the eventual team MVP and the former first-round pick who came over in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals.
Fitzpatrick closed out the season with four 300-yard passing performances in the final seven games, including a 320-yard day in the season-ending victory at New England. Fitzpatrick signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins last March, and Grier expects him to be back for a 16th NFL season in 2020.
"He did a great job," Grier said. "The things he did with the young players too in the locker room, his leadership, and just his enthusiasm. You guys saw him, how he is and carries himself. He did a great job for us."
Rosen, for his part, started three games but did not throw a pass after the Week 6 game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 13.
"The trade for us, we're always trying to upgrade that position," Grier said. "This was a younger player that had some talent. For us, knowing that we were going to have a lot of picks going forward in the future and money available, it made sense for us and try and make that trade. We're happy we made it. Josh made huge strides, like Brian has talked about. It's been fun watching him grow toward the year. No one got to see it and everyone wanted to see him play, but he did a tremendous job growing."