The first thing you must understand about draft trades is that intelligent and successful general managers do not trade for draft picks. They trade for players.
That's why the second overall pick last year was worth a mint to the Washington Redskins. They didn't trade for the slot. They traded for Robert Griffin III.
That's why the second overall pick in this year's draft won't be worth nearly as much to anyone interested. The reason is a team would be trading for Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel or Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah. Not the same value as RG3.
And so in discussing trade up possibilities for the Dolphins consider what player the team would covet so as to give up its own No. 12 pick plus multiple more picks this year and next to climb five or six slots. Who is worth that?
Is Dee Milliner, the most versatile cornerback in the draft, worth that? He's not Deion Sanders, people. Indeed, some teams are concerned about his durability because of the number of times he's required surgery to correct various problems.
Is Ziggy Ansah worth that? The kid is a project. Yes, he might become Jason Pierre Paul. Or he might become a tremendous bust who never figures it out.
Are either Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel worth that kind of ransom? Let me rephrase, are they worth giving up a No. 1 this year, a No. 1 next year and probably both No. 2s this year and perhaps another next year? Some of you are freaking out because the Dolphins might give up second-rounder for Branden Albert but you'd be ok with mortgaging this draft and possibly next for Fisher or Joeckel?
When you do the exercise this way it becomes hard to fathom the Dolphins trading up in this draft unless the price for doing so has dropped dramatically.
Remember, the Dolphins are not one player away from going to the Super Bowl.
There is not a sure-fire superstar that will make 10 Pro Bowls among the first 11 players of this year's draft. I've had two NFL personnel men tell me there are more likely six solid players and multiple busts in the group.
So that out of the way, let us concentrate on what players will available at No. 12 that the Dolphins would be willing to trade away.
That's right, what player that will never play for Miami is Miami willing to trade to another team wanting that player. That's how you must think of it. It's not Miami selling the No. 12 pick. It's Miami selling a player another team covets.
Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will probably be available at No. 12.
Quarterback Geno Smith will probably be available.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin might be available.
Wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson will probably be available.
OLB Jarvis Jones will probably be available.
The two prized guards -- Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack -- will probably be available.
Of all those players, I see only three that might create enough of a buzz to cause a team to try to get up to No. 12 to get them. Those players are Lotulelei, Austin and Smith.
Smith is intriguing because if he's not drafted by Arizona, Cleveland or Buffalo, he's going to fall at least to No. 13 and the New York Jets. So a team wanting him has to get ahead of the Jets, which is perfect for the Dolphins.
Who might be interested? Obviously, this is all conjecture but Minnesota might want a QB.
Lotulelei is one of four defensive tackles that are likely to be drafted in the first round, along with Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams.
What teams might covet him more than the Dolphins do?
The Cowboys want DT help. So does San Francisco. So does Minnesota.
Austin is a wildcard. Yes, he's too small. Yes, he might be gone (perhaps to the Jets at No. 9). But if he's there, he might draw the attention of multiple teams that badly want a playmaker.
St. Louis might be interested. They've got two first round picks -- at Nos. 16 and 22.
San Francisco makes sense. The 49ers have 13 picks this draft but nowhere near 13 available roster spots. Seattle is loading up on defense. The 49ers lost Randy Moss and, ahem, Ted Ginn Jr. Anything to help their young QB?
The point is think players when thinking draft trades. Don't think picks.