Habib: Dolphins' Chris Grier must be finding first-round draft picks in his couch cushion
Who knew, when that weird video of Laremy Tunsil with a bong was posted on social media, the entire fortunes of the Miami Dolphins were about to take a turn for years to come?
Who knew that the future of the senior quarterback at Saint Louis High School in Hawaii was about to be cemented?
Who knew that mild-mannered Chris Grier, whose GENERAL MANAGER nameplate with the Dolphins was still drying off, was about to hand himself the bargaining chip of his life?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to the mic and said with the 13th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected Tunsil. But what he should have said was you’re not gonna believe what these next few chapters are going to take you.
By taking the free-falling Tunsil, and then trading him away three years later when the Houston Texans made an offer that looks more like robbery each successive year, the Dolphins reaped benefits, then reaped more benefits, then, Friday, reaped even more benefits.
As if it weren’t weird enough that the 10-win Dolphins held the No. 3 overall pick as of Friday morning thanks to the Texans’ kindness, the Dolphins traded back nine slots with the San Francisco 49ers, picking up first-round picks in 2021, ’22 and ’23.
Grier then turned around and immediately traded back into the Top 10 by landing Philadelphia’s No. 6 overall pick in a deal whose primary cost was one of the 2022 first-rounders.
(Reports were Grier also received several shares of GameStop stock, but our sources would not confirm this.)
Chances are, if you’re able to keep all this wheeling and dealing straight, your eyes didn’t glaze over in class when the teacher started going off on the wonders of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Just know that Grier has scored four first-round picks — including No. 6 overall this year — by unloading Tunsil, a left tackle who is good but also has missed the Pro Bowl more seasons than he has made it.
Combine that with picks they would naturally receive and we’re looking at the Dolphins making eight first-round selections in a span of four NFL Drafts that started in 2020.
Thursday, Pat Riley was doing what Pat Riley does — making other teams wish they let calls from the 305 go straight to voicemail. Riley scored two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo for the Heat. Perhaps Riley had a smirk on his face Friday when he saw Grier’s handiwork.
This is a score not quite on the level of Jimmy Johnson trading away Herschel Walker in 1989. Not today. Grier still has to make all this draft capital count, something we’ve been saying for a while but never more true than this spring.
The Cowboys parlayed their deal into the Emmitt Smiths and Russell Marylands of future drafts, leading to three Vince Lombardi trophies. In the five drafts since Grier was named GM, he struck gold with Xavien Howard in the second round in 2016 and otherwise had some hits, some misses and a glob of picks you’d rate as just OK.
Well, OK isn't OK now.
Grier’s signature move last year, of course, was quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who, if he ever had reason to look over his shoulder, now knows he’ll enter the 2021 season as the Dolphins’ unquestioned starter. The Dolphins certainly aren’t looking to draft another quarterback. Forget the tainted Deshaun Watson. Ryan Fitzpatrick is gone and Jacoby Brissett is the newcomer, but a backup. If Tagovailoa’s play gets the Dolphins in a fix this fall, Tagovailoa’s play will have to get them out of it.
Now, it’s all about surrounding Tagovailoa with playmakers to give him confidence to throw past the chains. Receiver Will Fuller was a start, but only a start.
At No. 6, the Dolphins are still in prime territory to land the best receiver, edge rusher or running back in this draft. With picks Nos. 6 and 18, there’s a good chance they can grab two of ’em.
What Grier cannot afford is outsmarting himself by going for another project who never pans out — we’re looking at you, Charles Harris — or a player who does but isn’t a Brian Flores kind of player (Minkah Fitzpatrick). And with glaring needs at the skill positions, if the Dolphins pick another defensive back in the first two rounds, he’d better be another Howard, not another Noah Igbinoghene who may or may not come around.
Because Chris Grier just grabbed his chips and took a seat at the high roller table.
Deal him in.