Why don't the Dolphins have a first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?

2022 NFL Draft
2022 NFL Draft / David Becker/GettyImages

As we draw closer to the 2023 NFL Draft on April 27th through the 29th, everyone is excited and making their predictions for who their favorite teams will select, including our own Brian Miller, who published this mock draft just last week. But when browsing mock drafts, you may notice the Miami Dolphins do not own a first-round pick. There are only 31 picks in the first round -- why is that?

The Dolphins are not the only team without a first-round pick, as five other teams won't make a selection on the first night. But the other five teams traded their pick away; the Dolphins did not do so. Miami actually was forced to forfeit their first-round pick, which would have been pick 21, by the NFL due to "tampering" violations.

Back in 2019, the Dolphins made a big push for then-free agent quarterback Tom Brady, who was expected to leave the New England Patriots for the first time in his illustrious career. They allegedly did so again in 2021, when Brady played for the Buccaneers. The Dolphins also wanted to pair then-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton with Brady to form a super team, of sorts in 2022. The issue was that Miami spoke with both Brady and Payton about this plan while they were both under contract with their respective teams on three separate occasions -- which is evidently a huge no-no in the NFL.

Does that sort of stuff happen all the time? Of course. But when it pertains to big names like Tom Brady and Sean Payton, I guess that's when the league decides the violation is egregious enough to enforce the tampering rules. And they sure did that. In August of 2022, the league announced the Dolphins would be forced to forfeit their 2023 first-rounder, as well as a 2024 fourth-round pick.

Along with the two forfeited draft picks, there were some other punishments handed down by the league, including suspending and fining Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross.

Believe it or not, this isn't even the first time the Miami Dolphins were forced to forfeit their first-round pick due to tampering violations. Back in 1970, the Dolphins forfeited their 1971 first-rounder for hiring head coach Don Shula without seeking permission to do so from his former team. The Dolphins ended up finishing the 1972 season with a perfect undefeated record and won the Super Bowl, for what it's worth.

Does the league have it out for the Dolphins? Maybe you could make a case, based on the fact illegal tampering essentially happens every year. But at this point, the Dolphins are focused on the 51st overall selection in the second round, their first selection in the draft next week. Is there a chance the Dolphins could make some moves and end up back in the first round, just to spite the league? Possibly, but it's not likely.

The NFL Draft kicks off with the Carolina Panthers on the clock with the first overall selection on April 27th at 8:00 P.M. ET and lasts seven rounds through April 29th. The Dolphins hold a league-low four picks and are set to make their first selection Friday, the 28th, in the second round. To learn more about how to watch the draft, Brian Miller laid it all out in this viewing guide.