rsz-gettyimages-1280969075.jpg
Getty Images

No one expected it to happen, least of all Ryan Fitzpatrick. The veteran quarterback had mostly been playing well for the Miami Dolphins in 2020, but was notified recently he'd be benched to make way for Tua Tagovailoa, the team's rookie fifth-overall pick. It wasn't news Fitzpatrick took well, noting his "shock" and in how "heart just hurt all day" following the news. The decision had been made though, and head coach Brian Flores will now get to see if Tagovailoa is truly capable of being the face of the franchise. If not, the 2021 NFL Draft will get spicy for the Dolphins.

It's being reported one reason the team is fine with benching Fitzpatrick after a 3-3 start that includes a two-game win streak is where the Dolphins might sit on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. Given the fact they own two picks in the first two rounds -- thanks to the blockbuster trade that sent a disgruntled Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans -- the Dolphins are eyeing the failure of Houston in 2020 closely, because it could see them landing premium picks in next year's draft. 

If the Texans continue to flounder, the Dolphins will need to know sooner than later if Tagovailoa is the answer at QB, and that's seemingly why they named him starter despite Fitzpatrick having positioned them in second place in the AFC East. In other words, if Tagovailoa doesn't impress as QB1 in 2020, the Dolphins reportedly might consider grabbing a second consecutive top pick -- this time by way of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or the like.  

"We feel like through practice meetings and walk-throughs that he's ready, and that's how we're going moving forward," Flores said of the move at QB, via ESPN. "[Fitzpatrick] has done a great job. ... It's not an easy decision for me or us as an organization, but we felt like for the team now and moving forward, this is the move we needed to make."

The Texans are currently in a race for the No. 1-overall pick, and the Dolphins aren't blind to this fact.

For Tagovailoa, his first career NFL start marks a milestone for the former Alabama star quarterback, who saw his 2019 season end due to a devastating hip injury some believed would end his football career. He's instead battled back in miraculous fashion to not only be medically cleared ahead of the 2020 draft, but to also lose none of his draft stock en route to the getting the call from Miami as the fifth-overall pick. But while his ceiling is high and his perseverance stout, he'll need to hit the ground running to both keep the Dolphins in contention for the AFC East, and to keep the team from attempting to draft his replacement next April.