The Dolphins pick 14th overall next week. They view 19 players in this year’s NFL Draft class as legitimate first-round prospects.
Which means two things:
1. They will absolutely land a player they like if they stand pat at 14.
2. They could trade back at least five spots, pick up a much-needed draft pick and still get a quality talent.
That jibes with the belief in football circles that the Dolphins will try to slide out of the 14th pick if none of the draft’s elite talents (e.g., Todd Gurley, DeVante Parker or Trae Waynes) falls to them.
The team’s braintrust — Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Dennis Hickey and assistant general manager Eric Stokes — didn’t say anything nearly so explicit Friday at the team’s annual predraft news conference.
But Tannenbaum, in his first draft as the team’s executive vice president of football operations, signaled that the team would be willing to deal — either up or down.
“We’re an equal opportunity trader,” Tannenbaum said in jest.
Even if his history suggests otherwise. When Tannenbaum was the general manager of the Jets, he regularly would sacrifice quantity for quality. In 2009, the Jets gave up their second-round pick and three active players to move from 17th to fifth so they could take Mark Sanchez.
The Dolphins don’t need a quarterback next week. Ryan Tannehill is their future, even if Tannenbaum wouldn’t commit Friday to picking up the fifth-year option on Tannehill’s contract by the May 3 deadline. (They most assuredly will, however, unless the two sides can agree to a long-term deal before then.)
But they could use another interior offensive lineman (options include Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and LSU’s La’El Collins), a cornerback (Michigan State’s Waynes and Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson) and a wide receiver (Louisville’s Parker and UCF’s Breshad Perriman).
Whomever the Dolphins pick Thursday night, it will be the result of a collaborative effort. But if there’s a difference of opinion, who ends the debate?
“Dennis does,” said Tannenbaum, who is Hickey’s boss. “... The final decision rests with Dennis.”
Those were a few of the many takeaways from a 30-minute news briefing.
Among the others:
▪ The Dolphins gave no indication that Dion Jordan, who has missed the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, will return for this summer’s mandatory minicamp. It is unclear why Jordan has been away from the team.
▪ The team’s draft board is nearly set, Hickey said, aside from a few final tweaks. “Firmly etched in pencil,” Tannenbaum joked.
▪ Hickey views Stokes as a future general manager in this league.
▪ Tannenbaum mentioned fourth-year receiver Rishard Matthews as a player the team hopes will emerge this fall, particularly if the Dolphins don’t target a wideout early.
▪ As for this year’s class of receivers, Stokes said: “There’s everything. ... I think it’s a very solid class.”
▪ Stokes also spoke in glowing terms of Gurley, the Georgia running back linked by many to the Dolphins: “Definitely a player whose ability stands out.”
▪ Tannenbaum on the Dolphins overall makeup: “By no means are we saying our roster is perfect, but we’re happy where we are.”
NFL Draft at a glance
8 p.m. Thursday, April 30 (ESPN, NFL Network). Dolphins pick: 14th overall
7 p.m. Friday, May 1 (ESPN, NFL Network).
Noon Saturday, May 2 (ESPN2, NFL Network).