So, how many different ways did Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier manage to screw up the team’s first pick in the 2021 draft, which was sixth overall? Well, for starters, right out of the box, he broke one of the oldest and truest roles of drafting players in the first round, by selecting a wide receiver. This unwritten but irrefutable axiom is both true and provable for two reasons: first, year in and year out, there are, by far, more players performing at a high level at that position than any other in football. To make matters worse, Waddle would almost certainly have been available at the twelfth pick, and certainly at ten. If Grier had to have the Alabama WR so badly, why couldn’t he have traded up from 18, rather than reaching for him at six? Then, he could have had a player actually worth taking at six, which Waddle most assuredly wasn’t.
Secondly, WR’s taken high in the draft fail to live up to their draft status more often than at any other position, outside of quarterback and edge rusher. So, right off the bat, your risk/reward ratio favorability continues to diminish the higher you select a receiver in round one, while, by taking two or three of them in subsequent rounds or even signing them as undrafted free agents (Preston Williams) you can give up less in draft capital, mitigate risk, and give yourself a chance to come away with at least one stud. There is a reason why successful NFL franchises, such as New England, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, and Green Bay seldom take a WR in round one, much less with the sixth pick. When your favorite team is gifted with a high draft pick like that, they need to make the most of it, as the Patriots did in 2008, when they found themselves sitting in the tenth slot, courtesy of a trade with New Orleans. Bill Belichick knows better than to take a WR in the top ten unless you believe he’s the next Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, or Calvin Johnson. Tim Brown (6th, 1988) and Amari Cooper (4th, 2013) are other examples of guys drafted high who possessed talent that was commensurate with where they were chosen. Jaylen Waddle, suffice it to say, does not. Belichick picked Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo tenth in ‘08, and he played for eight years in Foxboro, winning a Super Bowl along the way. And by the way, Tom Brady didn’t leave New England because their WR’s were bad; he left because the whole team was bad, due to years of subpar drafting throughout the roster. Belichick’s model worked to perfection for eighteen years. Then, in the nineteenth year, it didn’t work. Sounds like a pretty good business model to me. Not too coincidentally, also in 2008, the Dolphins had the very first pick in the draft, due in no small part to having chosen a WR in the previous year’s first round, 2007. They probably wouldn’t have finished 1-15 in 2007 if they took CB Darrelle Revis or linebacker Patrick Willis, both of whom were still available when Miami picked Ted Ginn, Jr.
In any marketplace, whether it’s the supermarket, an automobile showroom, or a draft, you base your purchases on three basic elements: supply, demand, and cost. With a huge supply of receivers who are still available, even as I write this, several likely future Pro Bowlers that were still on the board, and two more quarterbacks still left, spending that kind of coin to take Waddle with the sixth overall pick was just a boneheaded move, period. Raise your hand if you really, truly believe that Jaylen Waddle was the best player (excluding quarterbacks) available when the Dolphins were on the clock at number six on Thursday night. Yeah, I know this isn’t a zoom call, but somehow I don’t think there are a whole lot of hands going up. When you’re drafting sixth, you don’t take anyone other than the most talented player you can get. And there wasn’t just one player better than Waddle on the board, there were at least two — both of whom play a position at which the Dolphins have a crying need, three if you count the linebacker from Penn State, who according to some, may have been rated slightly lower than the guy we took. But there are far fewer LB’s who can play multiple spots in a 3-4 defense than there are speedy, undersized WR’s, which, again, is why well-run teams don’t take them high. You’re telling me that Miami couldn’t have taken an Elijah Moore, Rashod Bateman, or Kadarius Toney further down, and gotten similar results to what they’ll get from Waddle? At least in 2015, when they drafted Parker, there weren’t really any other players left with similar talent who would have made sense for the Dolphins; that was absolutely not the case on Thursday night. With this screw-up, Grier may well have cost Miami a shot at a Super Bowl run a few years from now — of course, that’s if he doesn’t make any other bonehead moves like this one, which is by no means a sure thing. Would Ron Wolf (former Green Bay GM) have made that pick? Would Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh)? Eric DeCosta (Baltimore)? How about John Schneider (Seattle)? The prosecution rests. Folks, this is not some kind of abstract, exotic, or convoluted theory we’re talking about here. This basic, fundamental football and Grier blew it, period. After all his wheeling and dealing, jockeying and maneuvering, Grier went out and passed a carefully executed fart on Thursday night. As a guy who’s passed a fair amount of gas in my time, take it from me, Chris, if you’re going to break wind, at least do it cheaply. That’s the wrap for today, have a great weekend, everybody.