2006 Draft: What will the Dolphins do?

All the speculation, all the rumors, the rumblings, the wheeling and dealing. That's all about to be replaced by the actual facts of what happens in the 2006 NFL draft. And trying to predict what the Dolphins will do in this 2006 draft is almost next to impossible. But don't think that's going to stop us from trying.

As of Friday night, the Dolphins were armed with six picks in this draft: one in the first (16th overall), third (82nd overall) and fourth rounds (114th overall) and three in the seventh (212th, 226th and 233rd overall).

The Dolphins are without picks in the second because of the Daunte Culpepper trade, in the fifth because they selected Manuel Wright in last summer's supplemental draft, and the sixth as a result of the trade that brought in Cleo Lemon and send A.J. Feeley to San Diego.

We've already gone over the Dolphins' needs (http://dolphins.scout.com/2/525403.html), and there's reason to think they'll be able to fill one of their most pressing ones in the first round -- should they stay put at No. 16.

But here's the deal: We're thinking that Nick Saban is going to do everything in his power to trade down to acquire more picks.

One obvious reason is trying to recoup that second-round pick, which could bring in another contributing player.

Another reason is that after you get past the top 12-15 prospects, there isn't a whole lot of difference among the next 30 or 40 prospects. So the difference between picking 16th or, for example, 29th or 30th, isn't that significant.

The big obstacle, of course, will be trying to find a partner with which to trade.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, picking 32nd overall, are one place to start. The Steelers have 10 picks this year and are said to be very open to the idea of trading up, as they did a few years when they drafted safety Troy Polamalu, who has become a Pro Bowl player.

Perhaps the New York Jets could be interested in moving from 29th to 16th should Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler still be available, although Saban would have to greatly think about the possibility of handing a division rival its quarterback of the future.

Then maybe the Colts will get nervous that all the first-round running backs will be gone before they pick at No. 30 and decide to make a move.

So our prediction, one way or another, is the Dolphins will trade down in the first round and acquire an extra pick or two.

That makes predicting the rest of the draft more difficult, so we'll project some players under the assumption the Dolphins don't make a trade.

Round 1 - Three names jump out at us here. The first two are college defensive ends who have the perfect skills to play 3-4 outside linebacker, N.C. State's Manny Lawson and Florida State's Kamerion Wimbley. The other is Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams, who is immensely talented but a bit on the immature side. Push come to shove, we'll go with Wimbley.

Round 3 - This becomes a lot trickier because it's more difficult to project who'll still be there. But we'll go here with Syracuse safety Anthony Smith, a ball hawk who had six interceptions in 2005.

Round 4 - It's time to go offense here, and it will be either a running back or a wide receiver. We'll go here with Florida State running back Leon Washington, a talented runner who somewhat underachieved in college but also could wind up returning kickoffs.

Round 7 - At this point, it becomes all the more difficult, but here we go anyway. We're thinking one of the three picks will be a kicker, probably Josh Huston from Ohio State. We're also thinking a cornerback to add depth, and we'll go with Toledo's Antonio Malone, a guy the Dolphins worked out this spring. And finally we'll give you Tennessee guard/center Rob Smith for a little offensive line depth.

So there you have it. But remember, we said our best guess is the Dolphins will trade down in the first round and acquire more picks.

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