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NFL Draft predictions and observations for 2016 Miami Dolphins

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Dolphins Need To Find At Least Two Starters

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2016 NFL Draft now just hours away, it's time for some predictions. It looks as though the Rams are leaning toward Cal's Jared Goff at QB, leaving North Dakota State's Carson Wentz for the Eagles, who traded up to the second overall pick, to ensure getting one of the top two quarterbacks.

Many pundits are now penciling in Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott's name as the Cowboys' pick, at fourth overall.  It's hard to believe Dallas would take Elliott that high, simply because that would mean passing on the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Joey Bosa or Myles Jack (although Jack may slide a bit, due to medical concerns).  If Jerry Jones wants Elliott bad enough, though, he can have him.  That will only push more good defensive players down the board to the Dolphins.

For the Dolphins, the Phinsider faithful seem to have gravitated into two basic groups, with two different philosophies:

First, the 'Turtle Strategy', led by Brian Naidus, a gentleman whom we greatly respect.   With the Turtle Strategy, the idea is to let the board come to you, trade back if and when possible, select the best available player and fill as many holes as possible.  Like his distant relative in Aesop's Fable: 'The Hare And The Tortoise' , the Turtle Strategy is 'Slow And Steady Is Sure To Win'.

Next up, we have the 'Early Bird Strategy'. Chris Early has broken down so much film that he could probably work for a lot of NFL teams if he wanted to.  Although Chris has indicated that he normally is not a great believer in trading up, there are specific cases in which trading up makes sense, and we, like Chris, think trading up for Ezekiel Elliott might not be a bad idea. With the Early Bird Strategy, you want to make moves that will help you win this year, like Bill Parcells did the last time Miami made the playoffs, in 2008. Although the Dolphins have several areas of concern defensively, a player like Elliott will often benefit the defense more than any one specific defensive player, because of his ability to keep the offense in manageable down and distance situations, thus helping to keep the defense off the field.

Although we have a tremendous amount of respect for both of these great football minds, in this year's draft, we're leaning toward the Early Bird Strategy, particularly in light of the fact that we received two probable starters in LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell, from Philadelphia, in the trade down from number eight to thirteen.

One of the annual rites of passage of the NFL Draft is that seemingly every year, we recite the same old tired rhetoric: "This is a really deep draft; other than the first seven to ten picks, there isn't much difference in talent between the fifteenth pick and the fortieth pick."   Uh, no.  You know why we say that about every single draft, year after year ?   Because, as fans, we have a tendency to overvalue our draft picks.  Even though statistically, a first round draft choice has less than a fifty percent chance of becoming a long term starter with his original team, we think those draft picks are like gold, and they might be, if we had Ozzie Newsome or Bill Polian, Ron Wolf, etc, making the selections.  But we don't, although if new Dolphins GM Chris Grier inherited any of the evaluation acumen from his father, legendary 80's New England personnel man Bobby Grier, we might yet get to that point.

Finally, can we please stop waving Dion Jordan around, as a reason for not trading up.   We get it - you don't like the idea of trading up, and if anything, you'd rather trade down, and accumulate more picks.  Here's the thing, though: it is always much easier to trade up in the draft than it is to trade down, because it's a seller's market; teams entertaining offers inherently have more leverage than the teams making the offers.  Holding out the Dion Jordan pick as a reason why we shouldn't trade up would be equivalent to my saying, "Hell, no I'm not going swimming in the ocean -- there are sharks in the ocean !"  Well, yes, there are.  But around the U.S. , despite our having thousands upon thousands of miles of coastline, where millions of people go swimming every year, there are only about a dozen or so attacks annually, in the United States.  Please, let us not fall victim to EOS, Exception Obsession Syndrome. The world revolves around the rule, not the exception.

Some other thoughts:  what is the deal with our wanting to downgrade University Of Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves as much as we possibly can ?  The past few weeks, we've seen numerous criticisms of Hargreaves, but all he is is the best pure cover corner in this year's draft.  But he's not elite, you say ?  Neither are either of the two quarterbacks that are going to go in the first two selections. Cornerback, along with left tackle and middle linebacker, is one of the most important positions on the field.  If you have a chance to grab the best one in the draft, and he carries a high first round grade, you do it.  And this is a guy who played his college ball in the state of Florida, for crying out loud !  Although I have yet to see any mock draft, anywhere, in which Hargreaves is selected later than the thirteenth overall pick, one guy on here had him going sixteenth, in one of his mocks.  Hargreaves deserves better treatment than this, guys, and he won't last beyond the eleventh overall pick; you can book that.

If they stay at thirteen, Miami will likely end up with one of six players: Shaq Lawson, Ezekiel Elliott (yes, he could still fall, although it's unlikely), William Jackson III, Eli Apple, Jack Conklin or Mackensie Alexander.