Dolphins in holding pattern as Bengals, Lions keep their options open ahead of 2020 NFL draft

Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on prior to the snap during the first quarter against the LSU Tigers in the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 9, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/TNS)
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By Safid Deen Sun Sentinel (TNS)

MOBILE, Ala. — Senior Bowl coaches Zac Taylor and Matt Patricia may not yet know — or want to say — what they are going to do with their respective picks in the 2020 NFL draft, but they certainly know what month it is.

Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals own the top pick, where LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the presumed favorite to be taken after his standout, national championship season. But Taylor has not committed to drafting Burrow, or being open to a possible blockbuster trade, just yet.

Ohio State star defensive end Chase Young could be taken with the second pick, owned by the Washington Redskins, which could leave Patricia and the Detroit Lions in position to dangle their No. 3 pick for teams looking to move up in the draft.

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Those instances could be welcoming or concerning for the Miami Dolphins, who own the No. 5 pick and are in the market for a franchise-changing quarterback like Burrow, injured Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert among others available in this year’s draft.

The Dolphins, led by coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier, must also account for what other NFL teams could do to get into the top 5 before the draft begins on April 23 in Las Vegas.

Here’s some early chatter from the Senior Bowl week regarding that front:

— The Carolina Panthers could quickly move to draft a quarterback after hiring new coach Matt Rhule and new offensive coordinator Joe Brady this offseason.

— The Oakland Raiders, who have two first-round picks, could be open to making a move, which could also include moving quarterback Derek Carr.

— The Los Angeles Chargers, who own the No. 6 pick behind Miami, could be in the market to move up in the draft to find Phillip Rivers’ replacement.

— Also, it’s still too early in Tagovailoa’s recovery from a hip injury to warrant making a splash for his services. There’s still more to discover in February, March and hopefully during his live throwing session in April.

Taylor, the former Dolphins assistant from 2012-15 who went 1-15 in his first season with the Bengals, said Tuesday that his team will use its allotted time to reach their final decision.

“No decisions have been made with what we’re going to do with it or how we’re going to approach it,” Taylor said of reports that Cincinnati could be open for business with the top pick instead of drafting Burrow.

“We’re still in January. We’ve got until April to figure it all out. So we’re using this week as a tool for making the right decisions moving forward.”

Patricia echoed the same sentiment regarding his draft pick, which could be subject for discussion especially with a player like Tagovailoa, who may need to be drafted earlier than expected despite concerns surrounding his hip injury.

Patricia also believes longtime Lions starting quarterback Matthew Stafford can return to form from a back injury that caused Detroit to go 3-12-1 last season.

“It’s January,” Patricia said with a smile before referring to Lions general manager Bob Quinn.

“I think for us, we’re just going to go through the process and get everything handled. I don’t think you can commit to anything. It’s way too early.”

As for the Dolphins, they will use the Senior Bowl practices and game to scout prospective players for the draft in which they own 14 picks.

While Miami could package a number of those picks in 2020 or 2021 for a trade, the goal remains to have as many draft picks at their disposal to aid their rebuilding effort.

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