Chris Grier, overlooked at times outside Dolphins headquarters, is held in the highest regard inside of it.
Adam Gase trusts his general manager implicitly. Lower level scouts fist-pump when their player grades match up with Grier’s.
“We feel like if we draft right, which with Chris running our draft and our scouts doing what they do and after going through that process last year; you talk about as a coach just being able to completely walk away from the situation because you have so much faith and trust in that crew,” Gase said last week at the NFL owners meetings. “They do such a good job that you know you’re going to get the right kind of players. You know that you’re going to get our kind of players, the guys that we keep talking about that we want.”
Translation: The Dolphins want Grier to have draft picks. The more the better.
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Which is why they’re far more likely to trade back in the first round than up in a few weeks.
As things stand currently, 23 days shy of the draft, the Dolphins have seven picks — but just three in the first 165 selections.
The Dolphins would love to add a fourth (or even fifth).
First bit of context: This is a particularly deep draft at Miami’s positions of need (pretty much everywhere on defense, but rush end, safety and corner are especially strong).
Second bit of context: The Dolphins are not blind to their 2016 roster limitations. No one believes they were on the cusp of a Super Bowl title last year, even with a 10-6 record. Accordingly, they want to inject their team with as many good, young (and cheap) players as possible.
Knowing all this, it doesn’t take Aristotle to figure out what the people in Davie are thinking.
Logic suggests they’ll at least field calls to move back from the 22nd overall pick, if not make those calls themselves — unless lightning strikes again and a Laremy Tunsil-like talent falls into their laps at 22. (Sorry, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett won’t make it out of the Top 15.)
The rub: It takes two to tango. The Dolphins need a trading partner to make it happen.
Which brings us back to the impact of this draft’s strength. Every smart team with a first-rounder will at least consider moving back to acquire more picks. But if everyone’s looking to move back, who’s moving up? Supply must meet the demand. The Dolphins won’t execute a trade unless they get good value.
So here’s where Gase, Grier and Mike Tannenbaum could use a bit of luck.
Teams who need quarterbacks must pass on those players early. The Dolphins need at least three of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s class — Clemson’s DeShaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer — to still be on the board at 22.
And that might happen. None of those four are can’t-miss talents.
That means clubs might balk at using a top-10 pick on one. But it also means teams could be more willing to take a chance in the early-to-mid-20s. Which teams, you ask?
The Texans, who pick at 25, the Chiefs (at 27) and the Browns, 49ers and Jaguars, all of whom own selections early in the second round. In the aforementioned scenario, these five teams might be scrambling to jump ahead of each other for their preferred QB.
So what kind of haul could Miami expect if things play out that way? There are a bunch of draft value charts floating around the internet, but the one created by Chase Stuart at FootballPerspective.com is as good as any.
The 22nd pick, in his valuation system, is worth 14.9 points.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Browns, who pick first and 12th, pass on a quarterback both times. They also own the 33rd pick, and could look to move up and select in the first round for a third time. Should the Browns package the 33rd and 108th picks (their fourth-rounder), the Dolphins might be willing to move down 11 spots plus throw in their first of three fifth-rounders (166th overall) to make the scales balance.
If so, the Dolphins would still almost certainly land a player they like at a position of need at 33 (e.g., Kansas State’s Jordan Willis) and would improve the value of their initial third-day pick by nearly two full rounds. There should be plenty of good guards still on the board when the fourth round begins — how does Danny Isidora sound, Hurricanes fans? — and the Dolphins would have their choice of any of them.
But what if the Jets come calling instead? The Dolphins’ asking price would probably exceed what the chart recommends, as Miami would expect a sweetener to help its division rival land a potential franchise quarterback.
The Jets pick at 39, which would be a 17-spot drop for the Dolphins. Stuart’s chart suggests that much of a step back would be worth a late-fourth rounder. The Dolphins would probably hold out for New York’s third-round compensatory pick. Such a trade would give the Dolphins the 39th, 54th, 97th and 107th picks — making for a busy, and potentially lucrative second day of the draft.
Will such a trade happen? Who knows. But it’s certainly possible should the first 20 teams to pick on April 27 cooperate.