Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins sent five draft picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for star receiver Tyreek Hill. While the Dolphins may not have any draft picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 draft, they still have an extra first-round and third-round pick in 2023, courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers. They have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, several talented players under contract for the next several years, a rookie head coach with tons of potential, and the team is a franchise quarterback away from being perennial Super Bowl contenders. Can Tua Tagovailoa still develop into a franchise quarterback? I don’t know, but regardless, the Dolphins have set themselves up perfectly for the near future.
How did they get to this point though? It clearly wasn’t the tanking efforts put forth by owner Stephen Ross. The Dolphins had five first-round picks over the last two drafts, including three in 2020. None of those 2020 selections have panned out. Tagovailoa has been mediocre at best. Austin Jackson has been subpar on the Dolphins’ offensive line, only posting six career games with a PFF pass blocking grade over 70.0 and only four career games with a PFF run blocking grade in the same range. And don’t even get me started on Noah Igbinoghene.
Jaylen Waddle was outstanding last year, but Jaelan Phillips underwhelmed. If you go 1-for-5 on first-round draft picks with four of them being in the top-20 overall, that’s not good. And still, the Dolphins have built one of the best rosters in the NFL and still have extra draft capital in 2023. That’s all thanks to one Laremy Tunsil.
In 2016, Laremy Tunsil was widely regarded as one of the best tackle prospects in the draft. He dominated the SEC while at the University of Mississippi and even recorded a rushing touchdown during his junior season. Many draft analysts projected Tunsil to hear his name called within the first 10 selections. However, due to a leaked photo of Tunsil smoking marijuana in a gas mask, Tunsil plummeted down big boards. The Dolphins were willing to take a shot on Tunsil and it paid out big time.
After three years of stellar tackle performance, Miami realized they needed to rebuild and traded Tunsil, as well as some other pieces, to the Houston Texans in exchange for two first-round picks and a second-round pick. While that 2020 first-round pick turned into Igbinoghene, the 2021 selections are what really solidify this trade’s greatness. By trading away Houston’s first-round pick in 2021, the Dolphins acquired two future first-round picks and a future third. They traded down to pick 12 and, after trading back up to pick number 6, were able to acquire Jaylen Waddle, who is bound to be a pivotal part of Miami’s offense for years to come. Sure, they had to give up a 2022 first-rounder for it, but based on how Waddle turned out, I think it’s safe to say it was well worth it. The other 2022 first the Dolphins had ended up being used as part of the deal for Hill.
That’s an absolute masterclass of value that Dolphins’ GM Chris Grier displayed. After all that, the Dolphins still have two first-round picks in 2023. You’d expect to see this type of value in a Madden simulation, not real life, yet it was played beautifully by the Miami front office. This isn’t the greatest trade of all-time. That still belongs to the Dallas Cowboys and Herschel Walker, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best trade since the turn of the century.