When the Miami Dolphins traded down from the No. 8 spot in the NFL draft's first round to the No. 13 spot in the same round in exchange for cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, there was much studying of the situation internally. Tons.
And this is what the team ultimately concluded: The Dolphins believed they were going to get a starting cornerback. A starting linebacker. And another starter with the 13th pick because that player was going to be no less a contributor than if they had selected him No. 8.
No. 13 was, correction, is going to be a starter, according to the Dolphins.
"We talked about it shortly after coming back from Indy, we started kicking around," executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. ""It’s great. Tom [Garfinkel], Steve [Ross], obviously Chris [Grier], Adam [Gase], we had a lot of discussion about it and in a cap system you only have finite resources so to trade back and get two guys we’re projecting as starters and it’s reasonable to think we’ll get a starter at 13 if we stay there, to get three starters in one trade we just all felt like, ‘Hey, we’re not one player away.’ This is an efficient use of cap resources, of capped resources and just felt like it was in our best interest."
Ok, so Tannenbaum doesn't come right out and proclaim the No. 13 pick will be a starter. But he's as close to saying it as you can get.
So let me try again...
Because Adam Gase said it.
"We got two starters and we're going to add a third at 13," Gase said during the NFL annual meeting. "I look at it as, we moved back five spots and got three starters. I was all for it. I know this: one guy is not going to change our team. So adding three starters for us was a big deal. We had a lot of needs we needed to fill, so when we started talking with those guys, and Mike felt good about the two players we were going to get, I felt really good about it."
And, folks, if this is how it plays out, we should all give the Dolphins a round of applause because three starters for moving back five slots in the first round is good business anyway you cut it. It really is compelling stuff assuming the starters are solid players.
But (yeah, there's always one a but), how can the Dolphins be so all fired certain No. 13 will be a starter?
I mean, sure, that is obviously the plan. No team picks in the first round thinking, this guy cannot start for us. No team plans for that.
But it happens.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker was No. 14 overall last year. And training camp came and went and he wasn't a starter. And the season's first month came and went and he wasn't starting. October and November passed and still not starting. It wasn't until December, amid the realization that the season was going nowhere and injuries had taken Rishard Matthews, that Parker started four of the final five games.
So he was a starter but it sure took a while.
Dion Jordan was No. 3 overall. Not a starter. Indeed, not even in the media guide last year because, you know, that drug suspension made him invisible.
Jared Odrick, the first round pick in 2010, missed all but a handful of plays his rookie year so it took him a while to become a starter.
Ted Ginn wasn't a starter most of 2007. Then again, Cam Cameron said he was drafted to play special teams. (Yes, that year scarred me forever).
Jason Allen in 2006? Nick Saban's final first round pick in the NFL never started for him. He was a dud as a rookie and I remember Saban telling me, you can't expect him to start right away because Troy Polamalu didn't exactly do that, either. Allen was a good man and his mom was a saint. But he was never, ever Troy Polamalu.
Dolphins history is dotted with first round picks that didn't start right away. Or ever, really.
Yatil Green never started a game for the Dolphins. Jamar Fletcher started four his entire Dolphins career after being the first-round pick in 2001. Billy Milner, Don Shula's final first-round pick, started nine games his rookie year after Ron Heller got hurt and was gone the next season.
The point is it takes some brass ones to say unequivocally the No. 13 overall pick will be a starter. Period. End of discussion.
And it's not just about the Dolphins. Last year 12 of the 32 players picked in the first round were not starters. Hey, it happens. Drafting is not an exact science.
So I'm looking at what the Dolphins are about to do at No. 13 and wondering who do they believe they're getting that can absolutely start for them?
I know if Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is there at No. 13 and he's picked, he starts Day One. Mission accomplished. Promise fulfilled.
I believe if cornerback Williams Jackson III is there at No. 13 he would start Day One because, frankly, there are no other candidates as of right now. Even if they slightly overdraft Ohio State's Eli Apple (I like him) at No. 13, he probably starts Day One -- although this would require some fast and hard technique teaching and coaching by Lou Anarumo and Vance Joseph.
Vernon Hargreaves would be the starting slot corner Day One and I guess that counts.
Reggie Ragland would be a starter at middle linebacker right away and allow the Dolphins to kick Kiko Alonso outside. Ohio State's Darron Lee? Probably not as much. (He's fast but a small boned kind of guy and I think the Dolphins need to get bigger and stronger at linebacker).
If the Dolphins go guard, does Cody Whitehair start right away while making the transition from college tackle to guard? Maybe. But not a certainty.
But, remember, Gase and Tannenbaum spoke with certainty. Courageous, men. Courageous.