Mock draft analysts up and down the country cannot agree on who the Dolphins will select with their first pick of the draft on Thursday. The team has shown it is willing to be aggressive in order to make the playoffs. For the first time in years, not one draft analyst has an inkling has to how the team will approach the draft, let alone who they will select. Lets check out three big questions heading towards draft weekend.
Dion Jordan trade?
The Dolphins top brass repeatedly sidestepped a series of tough questions surrounding Dion Jordan's decision not to participate in voluntary workouts. Was Jordan told to stay away from camp in anticipation of a trade? Jordan was suspended for the second time, missing four games last season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and is only one more step away from a lengthy suspension if he does it again. The big wildcard here is Chip Kelly, Jordan's former coach at Oregon, who has shown that he can make aggressive moves. Of course, a trade will depend upon the cap ramifications for the Dolphins where, according to overthecap.com, it would cost the team just under $6 million in dead money. However, if Kelly decides to trade up for Marcus Mariota come draft day, this potential deal would surely be dead in the water.
My take: Dion Jordan may just be the most frustrating player for Dolphins fans. Blessed with all the athletic ability in the world, he could be the swiss army knife on this defense. Has the team failed to utilize him properly, or is Jordan's head just not in the game? Maybe it's a mixture of both, but if the Dolphins can find a team willing to part with, say, a third round pick in exchange for Jordan, it may be worth cutting their losses. Is it realistic? This has been a crazy offseason, anything can happen.
Tannenbaum made it loud and clear that Dennis Hickey has the final say on who the team will draft. But that doesn't mean Tannenbaum won't have a strong voice in the draft room. During his time with the New York Jets, he made a series of bold moves to improve the team. Some worked out well, others ended in tears. He's shown he can be aggressive by trading up in the draft to land, what turned out to be, one of the greatest corners in modern times (Darrelle Revis) or one of the most underwhelming quarterbacks in recent years (Mark Sanchez).
He's also been known to trade draft picks for proven veterans (Brett Favre), and recently signed the prize of the free agency (Ndamukong Suh).
There's no doubting that Tannenbaum will have been working the phones these past few weeks to gauge how much it would cost the team to move up and select one of the elite talents. Adding a wide receiver like Kevin White, who may have the highest upside, or Amari Cooper, who may be the best fit for the Dolphins west coast offense, would provide Ryan Tannehill with a weapon that has been sorely missing for years.
My take: In such a deep draft, teams devoid of talent in the top ten may jump at the chance to acquire additional picks. Throw the draft value chart out of the window; a team in the top 10 may be willing to move back for only the Dolphins first and second round picks.
The Dolphins still have a number of holes on the roster. Priority positions include wide receiver, linebacker and corner. With Tannehill's pending pay day, it would be wise to invest in cheaper wide receivers through the draft. At linebacker, the team struggled at times last season. Playing a rookie behind Ndamukong Suh would be a huge advantage. As for the starting corner position opposite Brent Grimes, the players currently on the roster shouldn't fill anyone with confidence. The team could also use a complimentary running back for Lamar Miller. Offensive guard seems less of a priority now with the signings of Jeff Linkenbach and Jacques McClendon.
Should the Dolphins swing for the fences and add one elite talent at the expense of other positions, or should they sign promising young players in a deep draft? That's the million-dollar question.
My take: Hypothetically speaking, should the Dolphins trade Dion Jordan for a third round pick, and then move back in the draft to acquire another second round pick, the team would be well-placed to instantly patch the leaking holes on offense and defense. Moving back may not necessarily mean the Dolphins can't sign elite talents - both Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon could be there for the taking. Both players would add a fear factor to opposing defenses across the AFC. This could also enable the team to select a linebacker, a corner and a wide receiver all in the same draft. Will it happen? It's not out of the question.
Many questions, too few answers. Stay tuned Dolphins fans.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter@AlexParish89.