Timing has never been kind to the Miami Dolphins. In 2005, Miami was in desperate need of a quarterback, but that year's draft class featured only two worthy candidates: Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers.
Smith went first overall, and Rodgers was deemed inferior and fell to No. 24, leaving the Dolphins to invest the second overall pick in Ronnie Brown, who has never quite lived up to the hype.
This year, the Dolphins, at 15th overall, will likely be on the outside looking into a quarterback class that could contain the solution to their post-Dan Marino struggles. Because those quarterback prospects project to go before Miami picks, consensus is growing that the 'Fins will trade down.
However, all of those mock drafts and speculation stating such fail to specify how the Dolphins will trade down.
The following five scenarios provide a look at the likeliest instances for the Dolphins to trade down from the 15th pick in the draft. Believe it or not, based on the teams picking after the 'Fins, the timing might be perfect for them to strike a deal and move down in the draft. (In all of these scenarios comes the chance Miami will throw in extra picks and players, but for simplicity's sake, let's keep it simple.)
Although trading up in the draft strays far from the "Patriot Way," the 2011 draft might be different for Bill Belichick. New England has two draft picks in each of the first three rounds of the draft, providing it with sufficient ammo to pull off virtually any move-up trade it desires.
Despite their grand success in 2010, the Pats still have a whole slew of holes to fill, mainly along the offensive line, at defensive end and at running back.
New England's first-round picks are 17 and 28, so the possibility of a trade hinges on its draft board. If the Pats covet two guys like, say, Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan and 'Bama running back Mark Ingram, then a trade-up becomes a legitimate possibility.
However, Belichick is one to stockpile, not to trade away, so this a long shot. Not to mention Miami might not be willing to give the 'Pats a chance at drafting more elite talent.
Even though they were able to retain Champ Bailey, the Broncos secondary remains one of the weakest units in the NFL. They ranked 25th against the pass last year, and unless they add some talent and depth, that number will only decline.
Their rushing defense also ranked 25th in the league, making cornerback and defensive end Denver's biggest needs headed into the draft.
Regardless of whom the Broncos draft with the second overall pick, a trade-up scenario is in play. Denver has two second-round picks, and although it is in rebuild mode and might be reluctant to part with draft picks, it has a serious need for great talent.
The Broncos have the fourth pick in the second round, and that, along with some later picks, might be enough ammo for Denver to trade up to 15 and convince the 'Fins to slide out of the first round.
Denver could be in play for Colorado's Jimmy Smith, the second highest-rated cornerback behind Patrick Peterson, or they could target one of the many defensive end prospects projected to land in the middle of the first round.
As Peyton Manning ages and the Colts try to sign him to a long-term contract, securing his blind side becomes more vital than ever. Indianapolis GM Bill Polian has neglected Manning's blind side since Tarik Glenn retired in 2006, and it may have cost his teams the chance to make Super Bowl runs.
Indianapolis currently holds the 22nd pick, just seven spots behind the 'Fins. However, if the Colts want to secure the services of this year's premier offensive tackle, they will have to trade up.
Will the Colts part with their second-round pick in order to move up seven spots? It ultimately depends on which lineman is highest on their draft board. If they believe they can snatch Nate Solder or Gabe Camiri at 22, then they will stay put. But considering teams like the Dolphins, Giants and Bucs could all be in play for those guys, Indy might be pressured into making a move.
Even if the Colts offer up a third-round pick, it would be difficult for the Dolphins to decline, and that is the more likely scenario.
The San Diego Chargers are one of the three teams that possess two second-round draft picks, making them a natural trade partner for the Miami Dolphins.
The Bolts pick just three spots behind the Dolphins in the first round, but they are in dire need of an impact defensive end-linebacker, and the top-tier players at that position could be gone before they pick at 18.
Although it seems like a stretch for the Chargers to part with a second-round pick to move up just three spots, keep in mind that both of their second-rounders are at the tail end of the round. They hold the 18th and 29th picks in the second round.
Thus, if San Diego is salivating over a prospect and he is on the board at 15, it would not be unrealistic for them to part with one of those second-round picks to draft him (especially with the Patriots picking at 17 and likely to select a defensive end).
(Also: Couldn't the Dolphins trade down with the Chargers and then, if one of those elite tackles is still on the board, trade down with the Colts? They could stockpile two more third-round picks or, if they are lucky, a second and a third-rounder. Just some food for thought, Jeff Ireland.)
Like the Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs are in desperate need of one of this year's elite defensive ends or linebackers (or a DE/LB hybrid).
Players such as Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Cal's Cameron Jordan headline a group of stout 3-4 defensive ends projected to land in the middle of the first round, likely before the Chiefs pick at 22.
Meanwhile, UCLA's Akeem Ayers is one of two pure linebackers expected to go in the first round, but he might not be around at 22 either.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, two teams with similar needs for these defensive ends and/or linebackers, the Patriots and Chargers, pick between them and Chiefs. If Kansas City becomes infatuated with one of these prospects, or one of them is off the board before 15 and the Chiefs get nervous, trading up with the 'Fins is the safest and most logical solution.
Miami could leverage the Chiefs' desperation into their late second-round pick, but even if Miami only manages a third-rounder out of this deal, it would be a success for both parties.