Friday, February 24, 2012

Dolphins win coin toss, land 8th pick in 2012 NFL Draft

After an 0-7 start to the 2011 season, the Dolphins capped off the year with a 6-3 record in the last nine games, sufficiently ruining any chance of a top-five pick. Fortunately, a bit of luck has improved their draft standing slightly.

Entrenched in a tie with the Carolina Panthers for the eighth pick in April's NFL Draft, the Dolphins won a coin toss early Friday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, meaning they will pick eighth and the Panthers ninth in the draft's first round.

The order will alternate by round throughout the draft, meaning the Dolphins will pick before Carolina in rounds one, three, five and seven, and the Panthers will pick ahead of Miami in rounds two, four and six. (The Saints have the Dolphins' sixth-round pick in a swap for running back Reggie Bush, while the Bears have Carolina's third-round pick in the Greg Olsen trade.)

The coin flip was a result of tiebreaker procedures after the Dolphins and Panthers both ended up with identical records (7-9) and strengths of schedule (.504). Because the two teams are in different conferences, divisional and conference records are not used as tiebreakers.

While the Dolphins' earning the eighth pick is certainly a positive, it won't necessarily affect who they are able to pick in the first round. The Dolphins and Panthers do have some overlapping needs (defensive end, offensive line) but the Panthers could also target cornerback, wide receiver and defensive tackle, while Miami would be more likely to focus on quarterback (or a trade down) if they don't take a pass rusher or offensive tackle.

Where this small victory does come into play a bit more is in trading the pick, as the Dolphins now have slightly better ammo with which to move up or down in the draft. Many of us are holding out hope for a blockbuster deal to land Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III at the Rams' No. 2 pick, but that remains an extreme long shot and a trade down is much more realistic.

The 2012 NFL Draft begins the night of Thursday, April 26, but the Dolphins' draft needs will become much clearer after the free agent signing period, which will open March 13 at 4 p.m. ET.


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