The Dolphins haven’t gotten around to looking at draft-day trade scenarios yet. They don’t even expect to speak with other teams about them until later this week.
“We haven’t gone through the process of [figuring that out] and talking to other teams at this point and seeing where we would go up or back,” general manager Jeff Ireland said late last week. “Right now, we’re trying to get the board right, and we’re kind of grinding through the process.
“We’re in our second week of draft meetings. We’ve got about six more days left to kind of finalize the board and so, at that point, we have about a week to 10 days to kind of work the nuances of moving up [and] moving back.”
Despite these facts, trade rumors already abound on Internet fan sites. They swirl on social media. They create buzz.
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The NFL loves this because it makes the annual draft an event. Clubs love it because the unfounded rumors grow into smokescreens that club personnel didn’t even have to fabricate.
One problem with this avalanche of activity:
Trading up and trading down on draft day is often an exercise with little or no payoff. And when it does pay off for one team, it’s also a sign that some other team made a terrible mistake.
The Dolphins, for example, have done a good bit of draft-day jockeying for position during their history.
The best draft the Dolphins had moving up and down the board? That came in 1995, when Miami traded down and got stalwart defensive tackle Tim Bowens in the first round and used the third-round selection it got as part of that first trade to trade up to the second round and select longtime starting center Tim Ruddy.
That’s it. That’s the shining moment of draft-day trading in Dolphins history.
The more complete picture of draft-day trading done by the Dolphins is that more often the moves either accomplish little or go so badly that they become part of team infamy.
The Dolphins traded up to pick Charles Benson, Jackie Shipp, John Bosa, Scott Schwedes, Leroy Holt, Gene Williams, Dorian Brew, Morlon Greenwood, Shawn Murphy, A.J. Edds, Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay during their history.
How’s that for awesome wheeling and dealing?
The 2004 trade in which the Dolphins sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Vikings in order to move up one pick in the first round, from 20th to 19th, and pick Vernon Carey is still a puzzler.
Trading down also comes fraught with peril. One such move perhaps cost Jimmy Johnson a chance to get that third Super Bowl ring he so desperately wanted. That move came in 1998 when Johnson, holding the 19th overall selection in the first round, traded it to Green Bay for the 29th and 60th picks only minutes before the draft began.
Unfortunately for Johnson, when the 19th pick came around, Randy Moss, the elite receiver Dan Marino lacked his final few years, was still available. He went to Minnesota with the 21st pick.
More unfortunate for Johnson, the coach later said he knew Moss would be there and traded the pick anyway because he didn’t want Moss. More unfortunate for Johnson, he turned that second-round pick into another trade-back that eventually yielded linebacker Brad Jackson and offensive lineman Scott Shaw. More unfortunate for Johnson, Jackson and Shaw were cut during training camp.
And most unfortunate of all for Johnson, he selected a receiver in the third round named Larry Shannon and boldly predicted Shannon would be as good as Moss. Shannon, good guy that he was, never caught a pass in the NFL.
This is not to say every move, up or down, the Dolphins have made has backfired. And it doesn’t suggest future moves will backfire. Indeed, the current personnel department under Ireland has done some good work shifting back and forth during its five drafts.
Ireland moved up to get starting safety Reshad Jones in 2010. He moved down and got cornerback Sean Smith and added the pick that turned out to be safety Chris Clemons. The trade up to get Lamar Miller last year might pay off if the running back is next season’s starter, as expected. In 2008, Bill Parcells traded down and nabbed solid starter Kendall Langford in the third round.
But this personnel department also has swung and missed during trades around the board.
The trades up for Thomas and Clay in 2011 have paid no dividends. The trade-down for tight end Michael Egnew that also brought B.J. Cunningham last year added nothing and basically skipped over FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton not once but twice. Hilton caught 50 passes and scored eight touchdowns as a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts.
With all the draft-day poker the Dolphins have played since 2000, 21 players came to the roster.
Seven of those players eventually became contributors on some level, although not necessarily starters. Six players became significant disappointments, and this includes Thomas and Egnew.
Eight of those players neither contributed nor necessarily disappointed, but simply faded into history or, like Miller, are waiting to show their worth.
The results don’t come close to suggesting draft-day trades have been a huge benefit for Miami. So why is there so much buzz about them, again?