Dolphins Need to Sell No. 3 Overall Pick to Highest Bidder and Complete RebuildMarch 26, 2021
Editor's note: After publish, the Miami Dolphins traded the No. 3 overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the No. 12 pick, first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a 2022 third-round pick, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Miami Dolphins find themselves in a rare and awesome situation. Despite winning 10 games last year, they own the No. 3 overall pick, the No. 18 overall pick and two more top-50 picks in the NFL draft.
No other team coming off a double-digit-win season has close to as much draft capital as the Dolphins, who own two picks that belong to a Houston Texans team that went off the rails in 2020 and two picks that are located more or less in the middle of the first two rounds because they conveniently missed the playoffs.
The Washington Football Team and Chicago Bears won fewer games than Miami, but each organization has just one pick in the top 50 even though neither has traded any early picks away.
That might cause some to believe that the Dolphins should simply hang on to that third overall pick that originally belonged to Houston and select a potential game-changing player like Ja'Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith at wide receiver or Penei Sewell at offensive tackle.
After all, how many rookies does a strong team like Miami have room for anyway?
But the Dolphins have already invested heavily in DeVante Parker, Will Fuller V and emerging tight end Mike Gesicki to work as 2020 No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa's pass-catching core, and they used first- and second-round selections on tackles Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt last offseason.
The players most likely to be on the table third overall—Chase, Smith, Sewell, Jaylen Waddle, Kyle Pitts, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson—play positions already occupied by Parker, Fuller, Gesicki, Jackson, Hunt or Tagovailoa.
Besides, the fact that there's an open debate regarding the top receiver in a class that contains little separation between Chase, Smith and Waddle means standing pat makes little sense when quarterback-needy teams will likely be clamoring for a shot at whichever quarterbacks remain available after the Jacksonville Jaguars have presumably taken Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets (or whoever trades into Gang Green's spot) have presumably taken Fields, Wilson, Mac Jones or Trey Lance.
Worst-case scenario, you take Sewell—a potential generational tackle—with the knowledge that the jury's still out on both Jackson and Hunt. But it shouldn't be hard to land a king's ransom here.
ESPN's Adam Schefter recently predicted that four quarterbacks will go off the board in the first six or seven picks, which implies that certain teams slated to select beyond that range—the Carolina Panthers at eight, the Denver Broncos at nine, the San Francisco 49ers at 12, the Minnesota Vikings at 14, the New England Patriots at 15 and possibly even Washington and Chicago at 19 and 20, respectively—will fight for the right to swap first-round spots with Miami in exchange for extra picks or even veteran players.
After trading edge defender Shaq Lawson for off-ball linebacker Benardrick McKinney and cutting veteran Kyle Van Noy, the Dolphins' top need is clearly a pass rush that right now looks too reliant on Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel.
But this class lacks an edge worthy of the third overall pick. The first big board of the new B/R NFL Scouting Dept. contained zero edge defenders in the top 25, with Michigan product Kwity Paye standing as the only player at that position to crack the top 35.
The Dolphins can manipulate the draft board to land whichever edge they want without much trouble, and trading back from the third spot will only make it easier to do that and still wind up with a primo receiver in a deep wideout class as well as any tackle not named Sewell (Northwestern's Rashawn Slater comes to mind).
For years, the Cleveland Browns loaded up on as many dice as possible for the crapshoot that is the draft, essentially admitting to the football world that they're not under the impression they're significantly better at talent evaluation than their peers. And that eventually paid off. Now, a Browns team built primary with a "take as many swings as possible" mentality is a contender.
Miami has been following suit, and there's no reason to ditch that strategy now.
Now's the time for the Dolphins to forge and demand competition throughout the roster. Chase or Sewell would be exciting additions, but they'd move to the front of the line sheerly because of the onus that is attached to using a No. 3 overall pick on a guy.
But what if instead, they could wind up with, say, Waddle (creating an open battle with Parker and Fuller), Slater (creating a similar competition with Jackson and Hunt) and—that's right, AND—Paye or fellow highly rated edge Gregory Rousseau (either of whom would immediately push Ogbah, Van Ginkel and others on the pass-rushing hierarchy).
That's an entirely plausible scenario in the event of a trade down into the middle of the first round—a move that would likely land the Dolphins at least another Day 2 pick and likely another premium selection in 2022.
The window is open now, so it's fair if they don't want to keep kicking the draft can down the road, but it's worth noting that Washington has an extra third-round pick and the Patriots appear to be going all-in for 2021.
If I'm Miami and the WFT offers me 19, 51, 74 and a 2022 first-rounder for the third pick that wasn't even mine in the first place, there's no hesitating. Ditto for if the Patriots offer up 15, 46, 96 and a 2022 first. Better yet, all it would take from Denver would be the ninth pick along with the Broncos' 40th and 71st selections this year. Carolina? Give me eight, 39 and 73 and call it a day.
It's not complicated. More early-round picks, especially in a deep draft like this, increase your odds of hitting on difference-makers. And considering the state of Miami's roster along with the dynamics associated with the first round of this particular draft, a trade down should be a no-brainer.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Gagnon.