Everything you need to know about Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft can be summed up by a couple of reports by ESPN this week:
Among the teams looking to trade up: Miami.
Among the teams looking to trade down: Miami.
The Dolphins are currently picking 12th Thursday, and their intentions remain a mystery. Because they filled many of their holes in free agency, a good case could be made for them to draft more than a dozen players at seven positions. And good cases could be made for them to trade up, trade down or stand pat.
GM Jeff Ireland figures to be busy Thursday, and not just with the draft.
Talks about a trade for Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert have reportedly heated up. According to the website NFL.com, Chiefs GM John Dorsey said Thursday that the teams are discussing a deal but are not close on compensation.
The Chiefs reportedly want the first of the Dolphins’ two second-round selections (No. 42 overall). The report also said a long-term contract for Albert — believed to be for at least $8.5 million per year — would not be an issue for the Dolphins.
Ireland might also trade receiver Davone Bess, who is drawing interest from the Cleveland Browns and other teams, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. The Dolphins haven’t fielded an offer they like, but they would be receptive to trading Bess if the right offer comes along.
Both Albert and Bess will affect the Dolphins’ draft strategy. If they trade for Albert, it removes the possibility of the Dolphins taking an offensive tackle in the first few rounds.
Trading Bess, a former undrafted free agent in 2008 who had 3,447 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in five seasons, could clear the way for the Dolphins to draft West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin — considered by many analysts the draft’s most electrifying offensive player — in the first round, or perhaps add another receiver in the middle rounds, such as Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope. The team already has added Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson to the receiver rotation this offseason.
The Dolphins are hardly the only team masking their intentions. The entire first round is in flux, since there are no elite quarterback, receiver or pass rusher prospects. The Chiefs, picking No. 1 overall, still haven’t tipped their hand as to whom they will take, although Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel is the favorite. University of Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher and Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan also may be in the mix.
As for the Dolphins, they could snag the draft’s top-ranked tight end in Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. They could use one of their extra second- or third-round picks to trade up and get one of the draft’s three top offensive tackles –Joeckel, Fisher or Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson.
They could draft a defensive back such as Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Houston’s D.J. Hayden or Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro. They could target a pass rusher such as BYU’s Ziggy Ansah, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo or Florida State’s Bjoern Werner, or a a big run-stuffing defensive tackle in Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson or Utah’s Star Lotulelei. And although it won’t be popular with the fans, they might even take one of two excellent guard prospects, UNC’s Jonathan Cooper or Alabama’s Chance Warmack.
They could use the 12th pick — or trade for a higher one — on either Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson. Or they could decide to move Jonathan Martin to left tackle and use a second-round pick (or a late-first rounder if they can trade down) on a right tackle, such as FSU’s Menelik Watson or Oregon’s Kyle Long.
The Dolphins also had the 12th pick in 2010, trading it to San Diego for the 28th and 40th overall picks, but if they keep it this time, recent history suggests they have the chance to add a solid if not excellent player.
Several of the 12th overall picks drafted in the last decade have done well, including: Broncos LT Ryan Clady (2008), Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (2007), Ravens DT Haloti Ngata (2006), former Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman (2005) and Saints LB Jonathan Vilma (2004).
The success of recent 12th overall picks is mixed: Eagles DT Fletcher Cox (2012; 5.5 sacks as a rookie); Vikings QB Christian Ponder (2011); Chargers RB Ryan Matthews (2010); Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno (2009).