The Miami Dolphins' recent draft is mostly viewed through the lens of a gas mask, if you get my meaning, and its success or failure will be determined in large part on whether Laremy Tunsil is the prize the team says he is, or the problem 12 teams picking before Miami rebuffed.
Putting this entire draft on the Tunsil pick, however, is not entirely correct.
I put the success or failure of this draft as much on the pick of cornerback Xavien Howard as I do Tunsil. Because I'm about cornerbacks the past few months. And the Dolphins have been trying to be about cornerbacks the past few years.
And they failed despite needing a grand success somewhere and somehow.
The fact is Howard’s selection marks the fourth-consecutive draft the Dolphins have picked a cornerback and he is the sixth cornerback Miami has taken in the past four drafts. And which one of those is a star?
Yeah ... no one.
Will Davis was traded away.
Jamar Taylor was traded away.
Walt Aikens was converted to safety.
Bobby McCain is going to be vying for the team's slot corner job.
Tony Lippett is trying to make the transition from wide receiver.
And now Howard.
Howard was selected with the 38th overall pick, the highest the Dolphins have drafted a cornerback since Vontae Davis went 25th overall in 2009. By the way, nice trade, Dolphins.
But the thing is, the Dolphins went to some extremes to get Howard. Here's how:
Everyone knows the Dolphins traded up in the second round from the 42nd overall pick to the 38th overall pick to select Howard. The trade was Miami’s first draft-day trade to move up in the second round since 2011, when they traded a third-, fifth- and seventh-round selection to Washington to move up to 62nd overall and select RB Daniel Thomas.
"We traded up for corner Xavien Howard from Baylor," general manager Chris Grier said. "This was a prototype player. We spent a lot of time with him. It’s a core position – premium need for us. This guy checks all the boxes in terms of height, weight, speed, competitiveness, toughness. This was a player that was a target player for us and when the opportunity arrived for us to make a play to get him, we jumped at it. We’re ecstatic to have him on our roster."
Miami acquired Baltimore’s second-round pick (38th overall) in exchange for Miami’s second-round pick (42nd overall) and Miami’s fourth-round pick (107th overall). So the Dolphins essentially traded away a fourth-round pick to move up four slots.
What most people don't know is the Dolphins refused to give up their second-round pick while they were trying to get to Myles Jack, mostly because they badly needed a cornerback in the second round.
I reported after the draft's second night that Miami tried to trade up in the second round to select Jack. There was some disappointment at the inability to make that happen.
But it seems the Dolphins were trying to make that happen in an unorthodox, and ultimately, untenable way.
The Dolphins tried to trade into the round using two later round picks, perhaps a third- and a fourth-rounder or a third- and a fifth-rounder. That would have given the Dolphins two second-round selections. Nice try, but no team was seriously going to do that. To get up from No. 42 overall to say, No. 36 overall where Jack was eventually selected, the Dolphins would have had to give up their own second-rounder and a fourth-rounder at minimum.
(Indeed, the Jaguars gave up their second-rounder (36th overall) and a fifth-rounder (146th) to move up just two spots and pick Jack.
But Miami didn't want to lose its own second rounder because it wanted ... a cornerback. The Dolphins knew they needed Howard.
After the cornerback pick, I got a text from the team. "U happy now?"
Yes, I've been telling you the Dolphins needed a starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell. Yes, I've been telling you the guys in camp before this draft were probably not going to be good enough to be that guy. No disrespect to them, it's just that their history is their history.
(I also told you last year Jamar Taylor wasn't it. Yeah, it took me two years because I gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt for being injured as a rookie. But after that, it was clear to anyone with eyes he was mentally or emotionally soft. I wish him luck in Cleveland).
He says he studies Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis and models his game based on them. He knows the Dolphins want (need) him to be good right away.
“They’re expecting me to come in and make plays and learn the defense," Howard said. "“(I can contribute right away) with my ball skills and being physical. I’m working on my technique and stuff like that. I’m sure the coach is going to get me better in my technique and stuff like that. I got faith in myself that I can do the job."
This needs to work. Howard needs to be a player relatively quickly.
Because the degree to which he can do his job will measure largely the success of this 2016 Dolphins draft.