Miami Dolphins

Trading back in first round is on the table for Dolphins, but is the reward worth the risk?

Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier probably won’t have as easy a Round 1 decision in 2017 as they did last year.
Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier probably won’t have as easy a Round 1 decision in 2017 as they did last year.

History might repeat itself, but usually not right away.

The Dolphins could learn that the hard way Thursday night when they settle in for the franchise’s 52nd draft.

Yes, the best-case scenario is for the Dolphins, picking 22nd and sometime in the 10 p.m. hour, to luck out for the second time in as many years. For a Laremy Tunsil-type player, like linebacker Reuben Foster or defensive end Derek Barnett, to fortuitously slip to them.

A wish is not a plan, however. And the Dolphins better have contingencies.

Like, a lot of them.

In years past, we on the outside had a good feel for who the Dolphins would take. Ryan Tannehill in 2012. Ja’Wuan James in 2014. DeVante Parker in 2015.

But not this year.

The Dolphins could select as many as seven players at 22 and it wouldn’t be a surprise. This is the most uncertainty surrounding a Dolphins first-round pick since 2010, when they traded down down 16 spots to take defensive end Jared Odrick. Like today, the Dolphins had a lot of needs then and not enough premium picks to address them all.

It was the steepest first-round trade down in franchise history, and it netted them a second-round pick in return.

But time hasn’t been kind to that decision. Odrick was solid but not spectacular in his five years with Miami. Koa Misi, selected with that added second-round pick, can’t stay on the field.

And here are the best players drafted between 13 and 28 in 2010, all available to the Dolphins at 12: Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Devin McCourty.

Any one of those six would be high-level starters for the Dolphins today.

So yes, there’s reward in trading down. But also risk.

Good news is this draft is deep, particularly at areas of Miami’s needs.

But the players the Dolphins covet the most — like Foster, Barnett and Charles Harris, to name a few — are expected to be gone before Miami goes on the clock. Which is why a trade back could make sense.

“We’ll always make what decision we feel is best,” executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said last week. “Typically you get calls both ways — maybe three in front of you and three behind you. … When a trade becomes available, we’ll measure that opportunity against the board. What our needs are, of course, that’s going to be a little bit of a balance. But we’ll see what happens. Sometimes you get a trade offer that’s hard to say no to.”

Here’s a scenario that the Dolphins might find too enticing to pass up: trading down from 22 to the early 30s and getting back the third-rounder they surrendered in the Leonte Carroo trade in return.

That would be a better return than most trade charts suggest the Dolphins should get, but circumstances might work to Miami’s advantage. If there isn’t an early run on quarterbacks, teams needing one might get antsy and pony up to move back into the first round from the early second.

In all likelihood, the Dolphins know what it would take to get them off that 22nd spot. Dennis Lock, Miami’s director of analytics, has crunched the numbers and given the decision-makers the appropriate information. So while the Dolphins might be surprised by a draft-night scenario, they won’t be unprepared.

In a nutshell, that’s how Chris Grier, the Dolphins’ second-year general manager, will make decisions Thursday. He’s taken input from everyone — Tannenbaum, Lock, coach Adam Gase and others — to construct his draft board. And when the time comes to pick, he’ll stick to it.

“A lot of those discussions are had well before, when we have the debate and disagreements,” Tannenbaum said. “Once the board is set, that’s really what we rely on to make our decisions. Last year is probably the best example of that. Again, we didn’t think we were going to be drafting a left tackle, but when there is a guy that’s so much higher rated than anything else, those are easy decisions. Our owner, Steve Ross, is there. We’re all sitting there and you say to yourself, ‘This is the best player for the long-term for us. Let’s turn in the card.’ 

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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