The Miami Dolphins are expected to be as busy during the NFL Draft, as they have been during free agency. The team has 11 draft picks, and could use all of them, trade down to add even more, or trade up, using picks as payment for an earlier selection. But, to figure out where the Dolphins could move, we have to figure out how much a draft pick is worth, rather than trying to guess if two picks are equal to one earlier pick.
The best way to do that is to use the "Jimmy Johnson" Draft Value Chart. Developed by Johnson when he was the head coach with the Dallas Cowboys, the chart is a couple of decades old at this point, and is not a perfect product when you consider the new rookie wage scale, among other things. But, it is a widely used source, and can give us a starting point in the value of each of the Dolphins' draft picks.
Of course, a draft pick is actually worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it (like the crazy price the Washington Redskins paid last year to move up to the St. Louis Rams' second pick and grab Robert Griffin III).
The Dolphins start the 2013 NFL Draft with following picks:
Turning to the Jimmy Johnson Draft Value Chart (which you can find on ESPN, among multiple other sites) we can take a look at the Dolphins' picks by value:
Essentially, the Dolphins have 2,535.3 points to play with during the draft. The way the draft chart works is, say the Dolphins want to move up to the 8th overall pick. Checking the draft value chart, that pick is worth 1,400 points. So, for Miami to jump up, they need to get as close to 1,400 points as possible.
You can immediately assume the 12th pick will be included, bringing with it 1,200 points. Looking at the rest of Miami's picks, they logical pick to include is the 77th overall pick, worth 205 points. Of course, the Bills, who hold that eighth pick, will likely want one of Miami's second round picks instead, so you could see Miami add in their second pick of the second round, meaning the Dolphins are now paying 1,560 for a 1,400 point pick in the first round. The Bills would likely have to throw in their fourth round pick, number 105 overall, and the 84 points from its value.
So now, we have a trade with the Dolphins sending away picks 12 (1,200 points) and 54 (360 points) to the Buffalo Bills, who would return picks 8 (1,400 points) and 105 (84 points). Overall, Miami would pay 1,560 points while seeing a return of 1,484 points, or a Dolphins overpay of 76 points.
Things of course get more complicated when you start adding in picks from future drafts or players, so it's not always a cut and dry mathematical formula. And, as we said before, the draft value chart is simply a starting point in negotiations. But, it at least gives us an idea of what the Dolphins could do in the draft this year.