There's been a lot of talk this offseason about the Miami Dolphins potentially sacrificing a lot of their tremendous draft capital in a blockbuster trade.
But what if it went the other way?
What if instead of giving up multiple premium picks, the Dolphins actually picked up even more premium picks for next year and beyond?
The Dolphins will go into the 2021 NFL draft with two first-round picks and two second-round picks as the final big pieces of the Laremy Tunsil trade with the Houston Texans in September 2019.
That Houston pick, as all Dolphins fans know, became the third overall after the Texans went 4-12 in 2020 and the Dolphins could use it on a premium player like Penei Sewell, J'Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith.
But the Dolphins also very well could end up getting phone calls from quarterback-hungry teams looking to move up to number 3 to make sure they don't miss out on one of the top QB prospects this year, whether it be Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance (we're not including Trevor Lawrence because we simply don't see any way the Jacksonville Jaguars don't pick him at number 1).
Among the six teams picking between fourth and ninth in the first round, it's easy to see five of them looking for a quarterback: Atlanta at 4 (to succeed the aging Matt Ryan), Philadelphia at 6, Detroit at 7, Carolina at 8 and Denver at 9.
The Cincinnati Bengals, who are picking fifth, are not in the market for a quarterback but they badly need to find protection for Joe Burrow, so it's not impossible they'll look to move up to make sure they can get Sewell.
So the possibility most definitely should be there for the Dolphins to move down from 3 to probably no later than 9, which still is likely to afford them the opportunity to land an impact prospect and pick up a premium pick (maybe even a 2022 first-round pick) in the process.
But what about the idea of trading down twice from the third overall spot?
Maybe, but let's consider this hypothetical: Jacksonville takes Lawrence at 1, the New York Jets take a wide receiver (Smith or Chase) at 2, the Dolphins trade down with Cincinnati, which takes Sewell at 3, and the Falcons take a quarterback (Wilson or Fields) at 4.
That brings the Dolphins back on the clock at 5 with two of the four prime quarterbacks (Wilson or Fields and Lance) still on the board — or maybe just one if the Jets take a QB at number 2. There's certainly a chance any of the next four teams would call the Dolphins to make sure they get their quarterback, providing the Dolphins with even more draft capital and giving them another Tunsil-like return.
But a team can't trade down in the first round twice, can it?
Well, it's been done before and — guess what — it was done by the Dolphins.
Now, granted, the initial pick wasn't nearly as high as the third overall, but the point remains the same.
It was 1999, Jimmy Johnson was in his fourth and final year running the Dolphins draft and Miami held the 24th overall selection before a trade down to 27th with the San Francisco 49ers to pick an additional fifth-round pick.
The Dolphins then traded that 27th pick to Detroit for picks in the second, third and fifth rounds. The Dolphins ended up making two other trades during the 1999 draft that involved moving up and down and wound up with second-round pick J.J. Johnson and Rob Konrad. The Dolphins didn't get impact players from that draft, but a look back also reveals they didn't miss out on any star players by moving down and eventually out of the first round.
Bottom line is that, yes, this would be unusual but not unprecedented.
It's certainly a bold approach, and one that would help the Dolphins continue their rebuilding project into next year with another draft with extra capital.
For what that scenario might look like, we took that exact approach with the Pro Football Network mock simulator and turned the Dolphins' five picks in the first three rounds into eight players, two 2022 first-round picks and one 2022 second-round pick.
The two trade-downs involved moving down from 3 to 5 in a deal with the Bengals, and then a trade-down from 5 to 6 with the Eagles to get a third-round pick (84th overall), another trade from 6 to 7 with Detroit to pick another third-round pick (72nd overall) and finally there a swap of the seventh pick to the Chicago Bears for the 20th overall pick, and first- and second-round picks next year.
With the eight picks, we then mocked to the Dolphins the following players: OL Rashawn Slater at 18, WR Rashod Bateman at 20, LB Zaven Collins at 36, CB Asante Samuel Jr. at 50, RB Javonte Williams at 72, EDGE Quincy Roche at 81 and C Quinn Meinerz at 84.
It's safe the say the likelihood of a team trading down four times in the first round is extraordinarily low, but even two trade-downs gives you an idea of what can be gained in the process.
And before everybody starts pointing out that there's no way Slater will be there at 18 or Collins will be there at 36 or Williams will be there at 72, understand that the picks were made with the players who were available and it just provides an idea of what could be in store for the Dolphins if they decide to take the trade-down approach.
Of course, the Dolphins could decide they're in win-now mode and go for the best player at number 3 and ultimately that will depend on how they feel about where they stand in comparison to the rest of the AFC and also on what kind of trade offers they get.
But the idea of moving down and restocking extra draft capital certainly is an intriguing one.