For just the fifth time in the history of the Miami Dolphins franchise, the team selected a quarterback in the first round of the National Football League's annual draft.
This time, Miami ended up picking the one player many fans were hoping they would "tank" for last season as the Dolphins selected Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with their first pick Thursday night.
Tagovailoa was one of the most sought after players entering the 2019 college football season. For his college career, he finished with 7,442 yards passing along with 87 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.
The Hawaii native gained fame when he came off the bench in the second half to lead the Crimson Tide to a victory in the national title game for the 2017 season.
He started 24 of his next 25 games, which included getting Alabama back to the title game in the 2018 season after defeating Oklahoma in the 2018 Orange Bowl played inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
A dislocated hip suffered on November 16th sidelined him for the rest of the 2019 season. Tagovailoa announced in January he would forgo his senior season at Alabama and made himself eligible for the draft.
“As far as rehab, as far as the medical rechecks, I’ve checked off all the boxes, so that’s what I’ve been really standing on and that’s kind of what I’ve been going with," Tagovailoa said during a Zoom call with media members late Thursday night. "That’s why I would say I’ve been really encouraged to say that I’m able to play if need be; but I think the biggest thing for me right now is just being able to take it in, soak it in, enjoy it with my family and get to work.”
Miami made the pick after spending much of Thursday reportedly trying to trade up in the first round, including trying to trade with the Cincinnati Bengals for the top pick and the right to draft former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
"We made our calls to everyone. Yes, we spoke (to Cincinnati) to see if they were interested. So yes, we talked to everyone – every team in the league," general manager Chris Grier said. "It was no different. Every team makes those calls so yes, we reached out."
The Dolphins made the pick like every other NFL team - virtually, with team officials in different locations in accordance with guidelines for dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The league cancelled its original plans for the draft, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, as players watched from their homes.
Fans of the Fins were hoping to get Tagovailoa before the start of head coach Brian Flores' inaugural season, which ended with Miami winning five of their last nine games after losing their first seven contests of the season.
"I’m very grateful and I’m honored that the fans think so (highly) of me. It’s a different ball game. What I did in college can’t translate to the NFL. It’s a clean slate," he said. "What I’ve got to do is I’ve got to go out there and earn my respect and earn the trust from my teammates. It’s how you go about doing things.”
"There were a lot of good players at the position. We talked about every one of them. We did our homework on every one of them," Flores said. "We’ve been in Zoom meetings for multiple days, multiple weeks. At the end of the day, we felt like that was the best choice for the Miami Dolphins.”
Miami is hoping for the long term career of two quarterbacks previously selected by the team: Bob Griese in 1967 and Dan Marino in 1983, both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fans may expect him to be the next great to wear the No. 13, which he wore while at Alabama but won't get a chance to wear with the Dolphins.
"For me, I’m not too worried about what number I have. I understand number 13 is retired and it should be," he said. "Dan Marino, he - he’s the GOAT. He’s like the mayor out there, and I have much respect for him.”