If you remember my NFL Draft Theory series, then you know I'm a fan of trading down. Big, big fan. Like, windmill-sized type of fan. Blades the size of CostCo.
According to this dude, this is a deep draft - and (in my best Dan Rather super-intense news voice) all my FanSpeak mock drafts significantly support this. Trading down sounds even more delicious than it usually does. Add some bacon on that burger, add another scoop of ice cream on that pie, add some more…(scratches head)...lettuce…on that salad? (Sorry I don't know what to say to people who eat healthy).
When I took a look at the odds of legitimately being able to move down in the 2016 NFL Draft, I looked at it from this perspective: what reason will a team have to move in front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I suppose it's possible that a team will leap frog 2 or more teams to be "extra safe" that they get their guy, but I find that contingency bleak. The best move for a front office is to leap frog one, and only one, spot in front of the "danger zone" (the team who might take a player of interest). In our case, from the perspective of the trade-down partner, the "danger zone" is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Asked another way, what prospect will be available that will entice a team to trade up with the Miami Dolphins in order to get ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
I'll admit, as gung-ho as I am about moving down, this year has a contrasting concern to take into account: the teams at #9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, and 18 have looming defensive concerns as well. Move too far down, and we'll miss out on a lot of defensive prospects. We have a lot of overlapping needs with Tampa Bay, and that will reduce trade partners because we won't want to move with a team who will take a player Tampa Bay wants (because that's a player WE will want). However, if our board shakes out to where a trade-down makes sense, I came up with the 3 most likely scenarios that will surface that will create a trade-down possibility, namely by considering Tampa Bay's most glaring needs.
DE is available: Shaq Lawson or DeForest Buckner
Tampa Bay (#9) and New York Giants (#10) have needs at DE. Depending on what happens this off-season, WE might have a hole at DE. If we are able to bring back 2 of our 3 DE's (Shelby, Wake, Vernon), this could present us a possibility to move down while capitalizing on a team's desire to improve the pass rush and move in front of Tampa Bay to secure their DE of choice (Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles). I think this is our most likely trade-down scenario, but it's built on a house of straws that WE won't need a DE ourself. It's also possible that we have 3 or 4 good fits at DE, considering this is a deep DL draft, and a roll of the dice is worth it to acquire an extra pick.
CB is available: Vernon Hargreaves or Mackensie Alexander
AAAAHHHH! Why does Tampa Bay need everything we do?!?! Sorry to be redundant, but we can't move down with a team who wants to take a CB in front of Tampa Bay, because what if Tampa Bay takes the "next best" CB? That's a doomsday scenario if we were rolling the dice trying to move down a few spots and take a CB. In this case, I think the most likely scenario is that the Miami Dolphins were going to draft a LB or DE all along, through Hell or high water, and feel comfortable trading down and allowing one of those LB/DE prospects to slip through the cracks. An even slimmer scenario suggests that the Dolphins simply don't like any of the Day 1 prospects at CB (and hopefully they would get Vance Joseph's take on any draftees that might come in to help the secondary).
OL is available: Ronnie Stanley
In the world's most shocking news, the Buccaneers AGAIN have an overlapping position of need with us. Although the Bucs have holes all across their OL, the Dolphins have holes at Guard (and one could argue everywhere else, too). A part of me believes that Tackle is a very real need, at the very least from a depth perspective. However, we might be OK with Albert and James at Tackle for another year, and would prefer to take OL depth on Day 2 or 3. This scenario allows Stanley to be a commodity, with potentially 7 or more teams from pick #9-20 looking at an OT to improve the OL.
Trading down is always a risky proposition, but over the long-term, I believe it's the best strategy in the NFL Draft. The ability to have more picks minimizes the offset of whiffing. This year seems to have extra risk, though, with teams we'd be passing over having similar needs to our own. However, if the front office is feeling ballsy, or if the Dolphins have to move down 5 or fewer spots, or simply have a lot of similarly rated players, then a trade-down scenario is more palatable. It'll be interesting to see if the Dolphins receive any offers for the #8 pick this year. Draft day wheelin' and dealin' comes as the seconds tick down while a team is "on the clock", and I can't wait to see if Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier will get the best out of our draft maneuvering.