MIAMI — So Mel Kiper Jr. has the Dolphins trading up (again) and the Pro Football Focus people have them trading down (again).
And with two weeks to go before the NFL draft we’ve hit mock draft critical mass, in my humble opinion. Because multiple people apparently think the Dolphins don’t have a clue about what they really want.
The truth of it is no one knows whether the Dolphins are open to more trades of their first selection or if they truly found their sweet spot when they traded down from No. 3 overall to No. 12 overall and back up to No. 6 overall a few weeks ago.
(Actually, general manager Chris Grier and I suppose head coach Brian Flores know, but are curiously not sharing. And if they were sharing, I would be dubious of their agenda).
This much I do know:
Trading in any direction comes with a potential reward, no doubt.
But it also comes with significant risk.
And it always comes with consequences.
The Dolphins must know this.
When they traded out of the No. 3 spot they effectively gave up the guarantee of picking the highest-rated nonquarterback on their board.
The Dolphins and the whole Earth knew the Jacksonville Jaguars are picking quarterback Trevor Lawrence. And the Dolphins and approximately 82% of the Earth knew the Jets were picking Zach Wilson.
And know the Dolphins, along with everyone else, understand quarterbacks will go 1-2-3 and the draft for every other position potentially starts with the Atlanta Falcons holding pick No. 4.
Well, Kiper has the Dolphins trading up to that No. 4 slot to pick tight end Kyle Pitts.
They traded down from No. 3 to eventually trading back up to No. 4 from No. 12 and No. 6? If the Dolphins make this move it assures us they had no plan and are merely moving along on fanciful whims of whatever comes next.
The draft trade value chart assigns a 200-point difference between picks No. 6 and No. 4, and that’s equivalent to a mid-third-round pick. The Dolphins’ No. 81 overall selection, their lone third-round pick in this draft, is valued at 195 points.
And this is where I begin to bang my head against the wall.
Because if the Dolphins do this, the grand mastery of all the moving within the top 10 will have actually made the Dolphins weaker in 2021.
Recall that the end result of Miami going from 3 to 12 to 6 was getting a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2022.
None of what the Dolphins accomplished in their twin trades helps this year in this draft.
So if the Dolphins have to give up a third-round pick this year to move up from No. 6 to No. 4, they actually come out of all their top-of-the-draft trades with fewer and lower picks in 2021.
Because they will have ultimately moved down a spot, given up a third-rounder, and also made an exchange of a fourth-rounder for a fifth-rounder in the bargain.
So two lower picks.
And one fewer pick.
Yes, the club would still own the 2023 first-round pick.
But explain to me how that will help the Dolphins make the playoffs for the first time in five seasons this coming year? It won’t.
About that 2023 first-round selection. It’s good to have. But it isn’t as valuable as something right now. Jimmy Johnson taught us all that decades ago.
You will recall Johnson was fond of trading the future for the benefit of the present. He traded a first-round pick in 2000 for a second-round pick in 1998. Then he used that second-rounder on future Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain.
Johnson explained a second-round pick this year is equivalent to a first-round pick next year because the player selected this year will have a full year of development and will be making the traditional second-year leap when the other team’s first-rounder will still be trying to learn his new team’s system.
Johnson thought getting talent now was better than draft picks later.
Grier and Flores are doing it the other way around. They gave up a higher pick this year for lower picks this year and high picks in the future.
The only way a trade up from No. 6 for the Dolphins makes any sense whatsoever is if they give up their 2022 third-rounder. Not their 2021 third-rounder.
Because, again, giving up that third this year would leave Miami in a weaker spot this year than before all the wheeler dealer stuff began.
Now, as to a trade down:
The PFF people have Miami going down to No. 9 in a trade with the Denver Broncos.
And in this mock scenario the Dolphins still get Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith because Kyle Pitts went off the board at No. 4 and Ja’Marr Chase went to the Bengals at No. 5 and the Broncos got their QB at No. 6.
This scenario has the Detroit Lions selecting left tackle Penei Sewell at No. 7.
And now the reason the Dolphins cannot make this trade: Because they really have no clue what the Lions will do.
One of the things the Lions might do is select a wide receiver, possibly Smith, with the No. 7 pick.
Could they use the left tackle? Sure.
But could they use help at wide receiver? They just lost Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Jamal Agnew in free agency.
If the season began today, Detroit’s top two receivers would be Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams.
The point is there is no guarantee the Lions won’t pick a receiver at No. 7.
So the Dolphins moving down from No. 6 at all would be a huge gamble that would require them to know information that won’t be available until after they move.
That doesn’t sound like a great way to conduct a draft.