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Dolphins seriously exploring trade-down market

The Miami Dolphins have spent the past couple of days phoning various other NFL teams trying to gauge interest in the No. 12 overall selection as they try to prepare themselves for an attempt to trade down from their first round selection, multiple NFL sources are telling me.

Although the Dolphins have perhaps a handful of players they would be satisfied taking in the first round of the draft, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m., they clearly believe some of those players will be available and thus be a better value later in the first round.

It's impossible to know what players exactly the Dolphins have eyes on, so to speak, particularly for later in the round. But these are some of the possibilities:

Cornerback D.J. Hayden of Houston.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro of Texas.

Tight end Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri.

Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams of North Carolina.

Guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina.

And yes, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.

The fact the Dolphins are clearly doing much more work on trade down scenarios and not trade up scenarios suggests two things:

One: The club is likely exploring ways of retrieving a possible second-round pick in the exchange because it may give up one of its current second round picks to Kansas City for LT Branden Albert between now and Friday. Trading down, getting a late first-rounder and getting back a second-rounder in the mix could mitigate the sting of giving up a second-rounder for Albert. It would leave the Dolphins with multiple second-round selections, which is what the team has today anyway.

Two: The Dolphins don't love their options at No. 12 and believe there is more value in players lower in the draft.

A caveat, however, is that the Dolphins aren't the only team wanting to trade down. Because this draft's strength and greatest value are expected in picks 15-17 to around 35ish, there may be several teams looking to trade down.

The more teams looking to trade down ... the harder it will be to trade down.