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The Miami Dolphins need to have themselves a difficult conversation about this month’s 2021 NFL Draft. Every decision you make regarding players to invest in is challenging. There are a slew of dynamics at play for every selection that cause ripple effects throughout the rest of your roster; so no decision should be taken lightly.
But the Dolphins have an even more unenviable decision to make with the No. 18 overall selection at the end of the month: do you draft a high value position like pass rusher and run the risk of missing out on a running back that could greatly boost your running game? Or do you draft the running back to address need and hope for the best in finding someone to boost your pass rush?
Miami won’t have to wait too long for their next scheduled pick at No. 36 overall, but there’s a reasonable chance that the team’s preferred target at either spot will not be there the next time they come around in the queue. If the Dolphins are committed to upgrading the pass rush, they’d likely be wise to stay put at No. 18 and make the pick — be it Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips or Azeez Ojulari. The demand for pass rushers will get turned up quite quickly in this draft and the Dolphins currently have the proverbial high ground against a potential run.
But if Miami wants to draft a running back, exploring a trade down situation may be in the best cards for Miami. The Dolphins’ roster overhaul is well underway and while the team is unlikely in a position to cater to an addition 12+ player rookie class this season, Miami is currently sorely lacking in Day 3 selection. The Dolphins, who own four top-50 picks and five in the top-100, have just three selections the rest of the way: one in the 5th-round and two in the 7th-round. A trade down from 18 would be a prime opportunity for the Dolphins to manufacture additional picks to get more swings of the bat in this year’s draft class.
And, best of all, if you trade don from 18 and still manage to ensure you land your running back of choice, the Dolphins will presumably have finessed their draft positioning twice in the 1st-round — given that the Dolphins presumably traded back up in the draft order after trading out of the No. 3 overall pick to ensure they’d be in position to draft the same player they coveted at No. 3 overall anyway.
Securing the same players you’d draft at No. 3 and No. 18 overall but getting both in later slots while adding more picks is one heck of a way to open an NFL Draft. We’ll see if Chris Grier and the Dolphins have an appetite for such an approach here in the coming weeks.