The Miami Dolphins have made transactions involving 17 NFL Draft choices over the next two years. It isn't easy to follow all that they have done to reshape the future of their franchise. With the NFL Trade Deadline passed, it is safe to examine Miami's current draft haul and wonder what they might be able to accomplish with those choices.
Before diving into their assets, consider what the team needs to improve. The Dolphins need offensive linemen, pass rushers, cornerbacks, wide receivers, running backs, safeties, linebackers and potentially a quarterback. In short, they need everything.
2020 NFL Draft: Day One
Let's start with the 2020 NFL Draft. Miami holds their own first-round pick as well as first round selections from the Houston Texans (Laremy Tunsil trade) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Minkah Fitzpatrick trade).
- 1st: Miami
- 1st: Pittsburgh
- 1st: Houston
There are a few strategies the team could attack with these choices. It the personal opinion of this writer that there is not a quarterback for whom a team should tank. They all have their deficiencies. Games are won in the trenches and, when a team has as many holes as Miami does, they should not build their roster around the quarterback first. What could a Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa possibly accomplish with that roster right now?
Some question why the Dolphins would tank for any position other than a quarterback. Perhaps they intended to tank for two years? Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and potentially Texas' Sam Ehlinger could become better prospects than anyone in the 2020 NFL Draft class. The biggest mystery to me is why they surrendered a second-round draft pick for Josh Rosen when all of their other moves suggest they are attempting to acquire draft capital. Is Rosen part of the plan? Consider the inconsistencies of young quarterbacks in the past; Baker Mayfield looked tremendous as a rookie but has struggled in his second year while Jared Goff played poorly as a rookie but showed improvement in Year Two. Rosen has appeared in just 19 games, which is little more than one season. In that time, he has played in two different schemes under two different head coaches and offensive coordinators.
Miami should take Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young if they can get their hands on him. With their other two first round picks, they should take offensive linemen or a cornerback. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns were faced with a decision at No. 1 overall to take the best pure overall talent, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, or reach for a quarterback prospect like North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky or Clemson's Deshaun Watson. Garrett has been a great player. He currently leads the league in sacks. Trubisky does not look good. Watson is fantastic. There is nothing wrong with taking the safe option and adding a quarterback later. It would be painful to look back five years later knowing that the team passed on a Von Miller, Garrett caliber player when they were not equally as confident in a quarterback.
One other point to consider is the positional strengths and weaknesses in this draft class. Running back and wide receiver look like two of the deepest positions, which means they could add talent after the first round concludes. Historically speaking, teams have been able to find Pro Bowl caliber players in the second, third and rounds beyond.
2020 NFL Draft: Day Two
On Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dolphins have their own second and third round choices as well as a second round pick from the New Orleans Saints, which -- in addition to other draft compensation later flipped for Rosen -- General Manager Chris Grier acquired in a draft day trade allowing New Orleans to move up.
When the dust settles, the AFC East franchise is likely to own six picks within the Top-70.
- 2nd: Miami
- 2nd: New Orleans
- 3rd: Miami
Locking in to certain positions at this stage of the draft would be a mistake. The Dolphins have so many needs and it becomes even more difficult to find contributors beyond the first round. Miami should build their draft board and pick best player available with conviction. It will give them a better chance to add quality players while also allowing them to sleep at night because they do not have any regrets. As noted above, they have a lot of needs anyway.
Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, James Conner, Juju Smith-Schuster and Budda Baker are examples of players taken on Day Two of the 2017 NFL Draft. All five have made at least one Pro Bowl appearance.
2020 NFL Draft: Day Three
There have been several trades involving their Day Three treasure chest as well. The team acquired a fourth round pick from Tennessee in exchange for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami did trade both of their fourth round picks to Houston and Pittsburgh as part of the aforementioned Tunsil and Fitzpatrick deals respectively. The Dolphins traded their fifth round pick to the Arizona Cardinals as part of the deal for Rosen but they are expected to get it back in the Kenyan Drake trade. The Drake trade is either Miami's fifth round pick or Arizona's sixth round pick depending on pre-negotiated conditions. They also received Pittsburgh's fifth round pick in the Fitzpatrick deal. Miami has additional sixth round picks from the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh in deals for defensive end Robert Quinn and Fitzpatrick. Miami traded their seventh round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for offensive guard Danny Isidora but acquired a seventh round pick from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for safety Jordan Lucas. The draft compensation included in the trade between the Indianapolis Colts and Dolphins for offensive guard Evan Boehm has not been disclosed. On NFL Trade Deadline day, the Dolphins acquired cornerback Aqib Talib and a fifth round pick in exchange for an undisclosed late round pick.
- 5th: Miami or 6th: Arizona
- 5th: Pittsburgh
- 5th: Los Angeles Rams
- 6th: Miami
- 6th: Dallas
- 6th: Pittsburgh
- 7th: Kansas City
The Dolphins should follow the same strategy as Day Two: take the best player available. George Kittle, Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson are examples of Pro Bowl players selected on Day Three of the 2017 NFL Draft. Coming into Day Three, Miami will have already made six picks barring trades. They could turn some of these later picks into better picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. For example, they could send their sixth round pick to the New York Giants for a fifth round pick the following year.
Miami also has an additional first round pick and an additional second round pick from Houston in the 2021 NFL Draft stemming from the Tunsil trade.
NFL Draft capital ultimately means nothing if the team is unable to turn those assets into quality players. Tunsil in exchange for a pile of draft busts is a loss for the Dolphins.
Path to the No. 1 overall pick
At this stage, it would be demoralizing if the Dolphins did not get the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, they are one of two remaining winless teams joining the Cincinnati Bengals, who have one additional loss because they have not yet had their bye week. The Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets each have one victory. Those four teams, at this time, are the most threatening hurdles to Miami successfully tanking.