The top NFL Draft analysts have the Miami Dolphins and GM Jeff Ireland trading up with anyone who will listen for a chance to draft Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson. The top three tackles in the draft. The Dolphins have the “pick” ammunition to do it and players they can include if they so desired. Can they get a deal done?
The draft order in front of Miami is Kansas City – the landing spot at number one overall if they want Joeckel, Jacksonville at 2, Oakland at 3, Philly, Detroit, and Cleveland at 4, 5, and 6 respectively, followed by Arizona, Buffalo, NY Jets, Tennessee, and San Diego. Breaking down those teams we can rule out a trade up with Buffalo despite the fact they are actively trying to trade out of their 8th spot. The Dolphins will not try and make their division rival better by giving them more picks. The Jets at number 9 are the same.
The San Diego Chargers pick one pick before the Dolphins and they are said to be high on Lane Johnson as well however they are not so high on him that they are expected to trade up. Tennessee won’t draft a tackle but could be a trade partner as they are targeting DE and WR more than likely. A swap of spots with the Titans would likely cost the Dolphins an extra 4th round pick. At worst their late 3rd rounder. The Dolphins will likely have to move higher to land one of those three.
Lane Johnson’s has come out and said he expects to be drafted by the Lions at the five spot and says he fits with their style of offense. The Eagles one pick before could also be a landing spot. With Joeckel expected to go number 1 overall and Eric Fisher expected to go to either Philly at 4 or Detroit at 5, Johnson very well may be a top five pick. The Dolphins best options to trade up are with Oakland at number 3, a costly trade up that will cost a minimum second round pick, Cleveland who I have been told are more interested in CB Dee Milliner than extra picks, and Tennessee.
If the Dolphins either fail to trade up or have no intention of trading up (my hope) they could look to trade back should one of those tackles not fall to the 12 slot. And if that is something they wish to do, they will not have a problem finding a suitor.
The latest rumors have the Atlanta Falcons wanting to jump from the bottom of round 1 to the top half. If they fail to make another mega-trade with Cleveland the Falcons may try and move up with Buffalo. But if the price is too high, the Dolphins could be a partner. The trade would net the Dolphins an extra second round pick this year and likely an additional early pick next year as well.
San Francisco is another team rumored to be hot for a trade up. The 9′ers are in a win now mode knowing that making the AFC Championship one year and the Super Bowl the next means that the window of opportunity will eventually close sooner rather than later as other teams like Seattle continue to make major improvements. The 49′ers hold the 31st pick in the first round but also have the 34th pick (2nd in round 2) and the 61st pick in the draft. The 49′ers are rumored to be high on Tavon Austin or Tyler Eiffert. The 12 spot would be an ideal landing spot if they wanted to snag one of those players. The Dolphins would be smart to make this move as it would more than likely land them the 49′ers first rounder and early 2nd rounder as well as a 2014 selection.
Jeff Ireland could potentially be fielding calls from his previous boss. Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys need to make a splash as their window of opportunity is fading very quickly. It was likely only ajar as it was. With salary cap issues and questionable QB play and a coach who is on the hot seat, the “Boyz” need to fix holes now. Kenny Vaccaro is a player that the Cowboys need to add to fix their safety position and Jerry Jones knows there is no guarantee he will slip to the 18th position.
In St. Louis, the Rams’ Jeff Fisher is in need of WR help for his QB. Sam Bradford gained Jared Cook at TE but lost Danny Amendola to the Patriots in free agency. Steve Smith is the longest tenured WR on the unit with 6 years experience but he is coming off injuries that have depleted the production he once had with the Giants. The team has two other WR’s with two years experience and Chris Givens coming off his rookie season. Needless to say the team could use a Corderelle Patterson. But so could the Pittsburgh Steelers who are looking for help at the position as well. The Steelers pick 17th and the Rams pick 16th with their first of two selections. Both teams need a WR and there are only two prospects worthy of first round consideration. Tavon Austin and Patterson.
If we are talking about WR’s there is no way we can rule out the Minnesota Vikings and former Dolphins GM Rick Spielman. The Vikings lost their bid for free agent Mike Wallace and traded their number one WR, Percy Harvin, to the Seahawks. The Vikings are slotted back at 23 and it’s more than likely both WR’s will be gone before they pick. They won’t have another pick until the second half of round two so they may have to reach for WR Keenan Allen at 23 who many believe will fall into the mid 2nd round. The question is can the Vikings who have very little WR support for Christian Ponder afford to risk not coming away with a first or second day pick at the position?
As the draft approaches TE seems to suddenly be a position that teams are looking at. The hottest position of talk is by far the tackles and guards, not just in Miami but throughout the league. Many insiders believe that all three top LT’s will be gone in the top 5-8 and both top OG’s will be gone in the top 10-15. Teams in the 2nd half of round one are not clamoring to move up to grab a tackle. They may very well be trying to move up to get Tyler Eiffert.
Eiffert is a possible target of several teams looking to find their TE of the future. Atlanta is looking to find the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez who will play only one more year, the Houston Texans are looking for a replacement for Owen Daniels while the San Francisco 49′ers will look to have their future locked down possibly moving on from Vernon Davis who is rather expensive. The New York Giants are another team who is need of a TE as well. There are only two top TE’s in this years draft. Zac Ertz who is a late first/second round talent or Tyler Eiffert who could go as high as number 12. A team looking hard at making a move for Eiffert may be calling Ireland a week from Thursday.
I have never been a proponent of trading up unless you are targeting a game changing type of player. There will be plenty of opportunities to find a franchise type of game changer at the 12th position or even later in this draft that is deep in talent in several positions. Cornerback is a need but again depth is deep and the Dolphins can move down and find a player with the same talent level. The teams biggest question mark is by far who will play the LT spot and it’s that reason that many expect the Dolphins to move up and draft one of the top three.
While it would surely fill a need, it’s not a game changing position. Especially in an offense that is quick and fast paced. It’s for that reason that I hope the team will not throw away valuable second round picks to get a left tackle and it’s because that is what I don’t want to happen that it likely will. Rumors will continue to swirl of the Dolphins interest in moving up and while no one in the Dolphins organization is talking about it, it’s very possible that teams they have talked to are talking about it and mentioning to media. It works in their favor to do just that. It increases the cost of making a trade.
Regardless, in another week we are going to get our answers early. Ideally, the Dolphins will trade back a spot or two, pick up an extra 4th round pick, take a game changing player and then instead of the extra pick they would have thrown into moving up, they move back into round 1 at the end and grab another top prospect who fell a little further than expected.
The options for Jeff Ireland are indeed numerous.