Matt Barkley’s choice could have Miami Dolphins scrambling

The silver lining seemed so shiny and plausible seven weeks ago, didn’t it? Yes, the Dolphins were navigating a terrible storm of a season, complete with a two-month-long winless skid, a season-ending injury to the starting quarterback and weekly updates on the coach’s impending firing. But at least there was a promise of brighter days to follow all that darkness.

At least Dolphins fans could look past the losing and see a gleaming personification of future success. At least, we all thought, this terrible season would be followed by the acquisition of a franchise quarterback in 2012.

Yeah, well, forget all that.

You endured the pain. Tony Sparano indeed was dismissed. The Dolphins are still not a good team, certainly not good enough to make it into the playoffs.

But the trade for these terrible times has just been called off.

Matt Barkley is staying in school.

The truth is despite all the Dolphins have suffered and continue to endure, they now might have to move mountains to get the elite, franchise-defining quarterback all that failure was supposed to deliver.

Andrew Luck? You’re not getting him because he will be drafted No. 1 and the Dolphins separated themselves from that draft position with victories over Kansas City, Oakland, Washington and Buffalo.

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III? The chances he’ll be around when Miami drafts grow fainter with each touchdown pass he and Matt Moore throw.

Griffin is the second-most prized quarterback talent expected to be in the draft. And, unfortunately for the Dolphins, he also could be gone before they pick.

Finally, there’s Barkley. The only way the Dolphins will get him is if they have the first or second pick in the draft … in 2013.

Barkley on Thursday announced he wants to “finish what I started” at USC.

Barkley’s decision could be devastating to the Dolphins. If he had opted to enter the NFL Draft in April, three quarterbacks who should carry top 10 grades would have been available.

Assuming the Dolphins don’t become a late-season AFC East monster the final month, beating Buffalo last week, New England this week and New York next week, they would have found themselves with a top 10 draft pick and a chance to take one of those three top three quarterbacks.

But without Barkley and with Luck practically being fitted for an Indianapolis jersey, that leaves the Dolphins, Seattle, Washington, and possibly Cleveland and Jacksonville vying for RG3, with the Browns and Jaguars already owning worse records than Miami.

So where does that leave Miami now that the quarterback pool it expected to make a splash in suddenly got so shallow?

Two options:

They will have to select a lower-graded college quarterback and hope he turns out to be a better professional player.

The other option is that Miami gets a strong conviction about Griffin and general manager Jeff Ireland does whatever is necessary to trade up in the draft for him.

That second option, frankly, throws variables into the equation that sets off alarms for me.

What if the price to trade up three or four spots is so prohibitive that Miami backs off its targeted quarterback? What if the price to trade up means the Dolphins must give up picks they would really like to use on a right tackle or pass-rushing outside linebacker — two other enormous needs?

The possibility of needing a trade-up to accomplish what the Dolphins must accomplish also opens the door for the grand excuse.

I can hear it now:

“We didn’t get an elite quarterback in the first round because the price was too steep.”

Or:

“We didn’t get a quarterback in the top 10, but we really love the value of the quarterback we got in the second round.”

Or:

“The right tackle was the highest-rated player on our board so we took him, and we really like Matt Moore as our starter.”

Those words were never supposed to be in the conversation when the Dolphins opened the year 0-7. So can someone please direct the Dolphins to that silver lining we were expecting?

 

Source: Miami Herald