There are at least two players the Miami Dolphins will consider trading up for in the NFL draft later this week, per multiple sources -- Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
The Dolphins would love if either or both Myles and/or Elliott are available when they pick at No. 13 overall. But the chances of this happening are against the Dolphins because both players are coveted by teams scheduled to draft ahead of Miami. So the Dolphins are apparently studying scenarios where they might move up to select one of the players.
And this is interesting for multiple reasons ...
Firstly, you'll recall the Dolphins traded down from No. 8 overall weeks ago. They exchanged picks with the Philadelphia Eagles, who originally held the No. 13 pick, in exchange for cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso.
And in explaining their reasoning for that trade, the Dolphins said they did a study on the situation and decided moving down would net them three starters -- the two veterans from Philadelphia plus the player selected at No. 13 overall.
But it seems now the team believes Myles and Elliott might present such an opportunity as to merit giving up extra resources in exchange for the chance to move up again. If that happens, the formula for Miami getting three starters (because either Ezekiel or Jack would be instant starters) would be moving down five spots, plus giving up whatever assets a trade would cost in exchange for three players.
Consider that moving from No. 13 overall into the top 10 is expensive. The move from No. 13 to No. 10 costs 150 points, according to the trade value chart. That means the Dolphins would have to give up a fourth-round pick and other assets or perhaps even a third-round pick (accepting a deficit or getting another later pick back) to make that modest three-spot climb.
That possibility doesn't seem to bother the Dolphins philosophically.
I asked executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum about that philosophy during the team's NFL mandated pre-draft presser. I asked if the initial studies the team did on moving down wouldn't be proven to be wrong if the team finds a compelling need to now climb back up in the first round?
"No," Tannenbaum yelled at me angrily.
(Not really. He didn't yell at all. He's in a great mood these days because this is his Super Bowl.)
"It just means that a new set of opportunities present itself and the price and the risk was reasonable," Tannenbaum added. "But I’m not sitting here saying that’s what we are going to do. I feel great that Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso are in the building and they’ve been great and they are two players that we project will play meaningful roles for us. We’re going with eight draft choices, two players that we’ve already added, and we’ll just make those best decisions when they are presented. I’ve been around long enough to hear trades that I would have never dreamed of, even going up or back, because people’s perceived values will always be different than ours."
Obviously, Tannenbaum is not going to confirm or deny anything at this point. And of course he's not sitting there saying that's what he's going to do because that would make him the most transparent (and dumb) personnel man in the NFL. But the Dolphins have said repeatedly they would be willing to move up or down in this draft -- as all teams generally do.
The other question: Why Jack or Elliott?
What makes them so special that Miami might be tempted to move again when a good player is likely to be there at No. 13 when the team picks?
Because, if one believes scouts and others, these two have a chance to be transformational players. And despite this chance, circumstances might let them drop beyond where they might ordinarily be valued.
The circumstances for Jack are understandable. He is coming off a knee injury that required surgery last December. And the recovery from that surgery has been shrouded in questions -- mostly from anonymous sources. There is one report that some teams have taken Myles off their board because his knee might not hold up beyond a handful of years.
There are competing reports that say Jack checked out at the Indianapolis Combine medical re-check and he has run and worked out for numerous teams. The Herald's Barry Jackson noted recently what I have been hearing for quite some time and that is Jack worked out for the Dolphins privately.
So there is acute interest.
The Dolphins also have interest in Elliott in that they need a starting running back. Elliott is considered the best back in this draft. The team brought him in on one of their 30 visits. And although he probably doesn't rise to Todd Gurley potential, he is healthy and can nonetheless be an upgrade over Lamar Miller, who signed with Houston this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
“He’s a good player," general manager Chris Grier said. "He’s a good football player. There are a lot of good football players in this draft. I know you guys all know he came in here to visit. He’s a good kid, so we enjoyed spending time with him. There are a lot of good players in this draft, and he’s one of them."
So why might Ezekiel be available in the general neighborhood where the Dolphins might pick if they trade up some?
He's a running back. And many teams devalue running backs or simply have greater needs they need to fill early. That might allow Ezekiel to fall a little bit. And that might cause the Dolphins to reach up to get him.