In recent history, the number 8 spot in the draft has not been a horrible place to be, but it hasn't exactly been a great place either. You can make a case for Antrel Rolle in 2005 and maybe even Donte Whitner in 2006, but there is no denying that both Jamal Anderson (2007) and Derrick Harvey (2008) have been major disappointments in the league. This year things don't look much better at number 8. Most agree that there are 5 to 6 "elite" superstars in the making in this years' draft: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, and Justin Blackmon (whom some in the NFL community have suggested really doesn't deserve the title of "elite"). So what does Miami do with their #8 pick? This of course is the million dollar question with only a small selected few who know the answer.
From my recent observations, I've come to the conclusion that Ireland desperately wants to trade out of the number 8 spot. My intuition tells me this because of the surplus of value that is located in the second round and even third round of this years' draft. Miami already has back-to-back picks in the third, so having an additional pick in the second would be a dream come true for Miami's value first general manager. And who here can really blame him for wanting as many picks in the first three rounds as he can get, being that Miami in its current stage of transition have a lot of immediate needs.
So how can Miami get those additional picks that I speak of? Two words - Peyton Manning. I'm not exactly talking about the future hall-of-fame quarterback as much as I'm talking about the team that recently acquired his services - the Denver Broncos. Everyone who considers themselves a fan of the NFL and watched the Peyton sweepstakes knew that whichever team he Manning chose would be a team that automatically switched into Superbowl or bust mode. What great about this for teams such as the Dolphins, who are in re-building mode, is that teams that go all-in on the big game tend to care a little less about what lies ahead in next years' draft since their main focus is this year and winning it all. What Miami needs to do is take advantage of that mentality.
As of today, the most glaring need for the Denver Broncos is at defensive tackle,more now than ever since recently losing Bunkley to New Orleans and the release of McBean due to league suspension. Now I know Elway has come out publicly and declared that DT is not their biggest need, but no one including Denver fans are buying that, at least not while John Fox is their head coach. What is great about this years' draft is that if a team ever need a defensive tackle this is their year. The 2012 NFL draft is load with quality 1st round DT prospects such as: Devon Still, Michael Brockers, Jerel Worthy, Dontari Poe, with Fletcher Cox leading the pack. While I consider it a good year to have a need at DT, I also consider it a bad year to be waiting for one at #25.
There are a few monkey wrenches in my dream scenario but none bigger than the decision that two teams will have to make. Both the Rams at #6 and the Jaguars at #7 have the ability to completely blow this scenario to pieces. However, if the best DT in the draft is sitting there at #8, Miami will be in the drivers' seat because after the selection of Fletcher Cox there is going to be a fast run on defensive tackles with teams like Carolina (9), Kansas City (11), Seattle (12), Arizona (13), Dallas (14), Philadelphia (15), Cincinnati (17), and San Diego (18) all looking to get bigger and better in the middle.
When Thursday rolls around, I would love to see Ireland get on the phone with Elway and explain to him that if he wanted he could have the best defensive tackle in the draft for a very reasonable price. We all know by now about draft value chart which was designed not to be an exact science but rather a way of getting the conversation started. According to the chart the #8 pick= 1,400 pts and the #25 pick=720 pts, that is a difference of 680 pts. If I were Ireland and were using the chart in order to get the conversation started, I'd start by offering this: the chance to draft the #1 rated DT in 2012 draft, for [Denver Broncos] 57th pick (330 pts), 121st pick (52 pts), and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2013 which based on the players production in 2012 could become a 1st. I would consider this to be a fair trade because worst case scenario Miami breaks even (in terms of value points) and best case scenario Miami has the potential to possibly net a 1st round pick, but only if player selected has a phenomenal rookie season (I'm thinking Marcell Dareus type season). If the player the Broncos selected didn't have a excellent season Miami would still make it out on top since they would have two picks in the 2nd round and two picks in the 3rd round for the second consecutive year. I know all the fans of next years' crop of quarterbacks would love to go into the 2013 draft with 5 picks in the first 3 rounds because this would give Miami more than enough ammo to trade up in order to secure an "elite" quarterback in the 2013 draft (I'm thinking Tyler Wilson).
As for this years' draft, we can all agree that the Dolphins biggest needs are as follows: Pass Rusher, Wide Receiver, and Quarterback. By have 5 picks in the first 3 rounds this year the Dolphins would have put themselves in a great position to address each position adequately with room to spare.
When it comes to my dream draft scenario there is just one way to describe it
"Dependable explosive value."
1st Round - Nick Perry DE USC: a lot of people will say this is crazy since you can select him in the 2nd, but I say why take the chance. Up until a week ago Perry was considered a 1st round talent by almost everyone, but then all of a sudden he begins to slip? Something about that seems suspicious to me. Perry is a great talent at defense end in the 4-3 defense and also possesses the ability & strength to stand up as an OLB in the 3-4, a versatility trait that is essential to a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense.
2nd Round - Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers: similar to Perry, Sanu is also seeing his draft value slip and this could be a good thing for the Dolphins who are picking 10th in the second round. While Sanu does not possess great speed his best quality is his catching abilities, his willingness to go across the middle, his unmatched toughness as a blocker, and his extreme value as a leader. I will be first to admit that Sanu is not a vertical threat but what is not up for debate is his ability to make every catch at the short to intermediate routes, something that the West Coast offense lives and dies by.
2nd Round - Zach Brown LB N.Carolina: Many fans would argue that our LBs core can be considered a position of strength and not a weakness, but I challenge you to look again. Right now we have Dansby (a great player but is aging and is not guaranteed to be on the roster next year due to his enormous salary), Burnett (who is another good player but would rather play to his strengths as a 3-4 ILB than a 4-3 ILB he was the player who was a little disgruntled earlier in the year when news came out they would be switching to a 4-3), Misi (who depending on his criminal case is not guaranteed a spot on the roster), and then you got FA guys Westerman & Guyton who were solely added for depth at the position. Brown is an intriguing prospect mostly due to his out of this world closing speed when it comes to rushing the passer. I spent hours watching Coples cut-ups, yet I couldn't help but be distracted by Brown who was flying all over the field making one play after the other. If Brown would have came out of college last year he would have been a late 1st round pick, so to have the chance to draft him in the second is great value.
3rd Round - Brock Osweiler QB Arizona State: Now let me make this clear, I do not foresee Osweiler as the elite Franchise QB Miami desperately needs. What I do view him as is a prospect that has great potential and if groomed properly can become a great NFL passer. The value with this pick is the same value Atlanta got when it drafted Schaub in the 3rd round. If Miami can take a year or so to fix most of his mechanical & technical flaws they could be is possession of a player who may be worth a 1st or 2nd round pick in the near future. My dream scenario would be draft Osweiler this year, develop him for a season or two and then trade him when or if his value was at its highest (hopefully netting 2 high picks in consecutive years. My plan for finding a franchise quarterback would come in 2013 when Tyler Wilson is available. If Ireland is still around he should make it his duty to put himself in a position to get Wilson no matter what the cost.
3rd Round - Chris Givens WR Wake Forest: In my opinion, Givens is everything Sanu isn't and vice versa. That is why these two prospects would complement each other so well. According to some scouts & experts, Givens is one of the best if not best wideout with tremendous after the catch abilities and is a vertical threat whenever he's on the field. The only questions that surround Givens are his hands and his attitude (weaknesses that can be coached up). To me each players' flaws can be easily overlooked when you think of the possibility of Miami having a wide receiver duo that would match that of Green Bay's duo in Jordy Nelson & Greg Jennings.
4th Round - Senio Kelemete OG Washington: I fully expect Miami to start looking for some developmental offensive linemen come fourth round and one of the highest prospects I have on my list is this man. For one, Kelemete already comes from a zone blocking team in Washington and has the athletic abilities that Philbin describes as a must when it comes to his sort of linemen. What Kelemete also has that is vital musts when it comes to good zone blocking are quick feet, violent hands, the ability to get to the second level, and a mean nasty streak to destroy his opponent- Kelemete has all of those. He mainly played tackle in college but will be moved inside do to his arm length and with proper development he will become a force to be reckoned with.
4th Round - Olivier Vernon DE/OLB Miami: In college Vernon was not very productive by any means of the imagination, but then again he also went to the University of Miami (this is not an intentional knock on the university) it's just widely known that when it comes to prospects from the U you can't correctly evaluate them by their numbers. Vernon has the size, strength, and abilities to become a superstar in the league, the only question that follows him is does he have the passion? But if all it's going to cost you to find out is a 4th round pick, then count me all-in. To me Vernon is one of the biggest high reward/low risk guys in the entire draft.
I'm going to leave it at the 4th round because after this round the rest of the prospects will be purely developmental depth prospects who have potential to make an immediate impact most likely on special teams. I know that creating a mock using trades is completely unreliable and most of you may not even give it try once you saw that a trade was made, but I contest that this trade with Denver is completely realistic and within the Miami's reach, it's just up to Ireland sack up and get it done.
Starting on April 26th, 2012 history will be made for the Miami Dolphins. The only question is how they will be remembered.