First Year Dolphin Coaches make the biggest draft day busts
After the last few weeks of watching the Miami Dolphins front office fumble away three potential QB free agents (Manning, Flynn and Alex Smith), I decided to go back in history and recreate some painful draft day decisions brought to us by our revolving door of first year head coaches (it seems that every first year draft of Dave Wannstedt, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, and Tony Sparano left Miami with questionable selections and potential Hall of Fame and eventual pro bowl caliber players not only playing for Super Bowl champions...but also our division rivals). This post will serve as a what could have been, what we should hope to avoid in the future...and a notice to Joe Philbin that this upcoming draft is VERY IMPORTANT. So here we go...
2000 Draft: Dave Wannstedt's first year as head coach and through no fault of his own, Wannstedt goes into the draft without a first round selection. Todd Wade is drafted in the 2nd round, but it's the middle rounds where the Dolphins sew the seeds of their own destruction, selecting Arturo Freeman with the 152nd overall selection (5th round) and Earnest Grant with the 167th overall (the first selection of the 6th round...part of the Karim Abdul Jabbar trade)...the issue of course is that the Dolphins pass on Adalius Thomas, who they would later fail to lure via Free Agency, (selected with the 186th overall) and Tom Brady (199 overall). Wannstedt won the AFC East in 2000, but cemented their intradivisional rivals as perennial Superbowl contenders for the remainder of the decade. Ouch. Wannstedt's subsequent drafts produced little, and the two remaining draftees from that "era" Vernon Carey and Yeremiah Bell are likely gone this year.
2005 Draft: The Nick Saban era begins (and will end just as quickly), and with some SEC flair 3 of Miami's first 4 selections hail from the college conference Saban coached in...to Miami's failing. With the overall 2nd selection, Saban tabs Ronnie Brown (Auburn), ignoring who many believed should have been the first player chosen Aaron Rodgers. Franchise QB's apparently grow on trees while oft-injured running backs are hard to find. Brown would later be an integral part of the gimmick "wildcat" offense (where the RB pretends to be a QB) while Aaron Rodgers would be the second coming of Dan Marino...just for the Green Bay Packers (who, like Miami in 83, got a late round steal of a HoF quality QB)...but wait...there's more...with the 46th overall (2nd round) Miami selects DE Matt Roth while RB Frank Gore (from hometown Miami University) goes to the Niners with the 65th overall selection. Well, you say, Miami needed a pass rushing DE...hmm...well with the 70th overall Miami selected another SEC player in Channing Crowder (undersized LB's are always good...unless named Zach Thomas) while the NYGiants tabbed Justin Tuck four selections later at 74...Saban continued his SEC flavored draft by nabbing Travis Daniels in the 4th round (104 overall)...or exactly 42 spots ahead of another Pro Bowl DE Trent Cole....had Saban looked further than the SEC for his draft, Miami could have had the foundation to a Superbowl team with ARodgers at #2, Frank Gore at #46, Justin Tuck at #70, and Trent Cole at #104....instead every player from that draft class is either out of the league or playing for another team. Of course, drafting Rodgers would have made the Culpepper over Drew Brees decision a moot point....but that's another chapter. And another side-note, Alex Smith was taken with the overall #1 in 2005, and could have signed with Miami this year...but David Garrard, 34 and coming off back surgery, wins out.
2007 Draft: The Cam Cameron era (not the Mike Tomlin era as it should have been) begins...and ends...with what has been widely regarded as the worst first round selection in the history of the Miami franchise (and quite possibly the entire NFL). Miami has 4 of the top 71 selections, including the 9th overall, and instead of packaging the picks to move up in the draft and take Calvin Johnson (seeing as how the Lions already had selected WRs in their previous two drafts it was a deal that made sense for both teams), the Cam Cameron legacy begins with the drafting of Ted Ginn, jr and his "entire family". For Hands of Stone (unless returning kicks), the Dolphins pass on a who's who list of probowlers, including but not limited to Patrick Willis (LB SF-11), Joe Staley (OT SF-28), Darrelle Revis (CB NYJ-14) and even Dwayne Bowe (WR KC-23) who plays the same position as Ginn Jr...of course, Miami later deals Ginn Jr to the Niners (who made out like bandits in this draft...thus enabling them to reach the NFC championship game..with the help of the aforementioned Alex Smith and Frank Gore)...but, Cameron wasn't done there...with the 40th, 60th and 71st overall selections, Cameron takes QB John Beck, C Samson Satele, and RB Lorenzo Booker (positions that should have been addressed...and could have in 2005)...SF takes Dashon Goldson late in the 4th round (again, SF made out like bandits in this draft) but the overall depth of this draft was thin...packaging the picks for a higher first rounder would have been the right move...but even taking Darrelle Revis or Patrick Willis over Ted Ginn Jr would have made this draft worthwhile. Having Revis at CB certainly changes our 2009 draft where two CB's were taken with the first three picks....but we'll get to that draft in a bit.
2008 Draft: The Tony Sparano (or Bill Parcells) era begins with a bang. Seeing as how Nick Saban and Cam Cameron royally screwed the pooch the previous years, Miami gets the overall #1 and selects Jake Long....which would have been great had Miami had their franchise QB already in place (say Aaron Rodgers from 2005)...so instead of Matt Ryan (QB Atl-3) Miami bolsters the line...fine...I will let that one slide...it's what comes afterwards that I take issue with. Much like 2007, Miami boasted 4 of the top 66 picks...with the first pick of the 2nd round (32 overall), the 57th overall (for trading Chris Chambers), and the 66th overall...and again, Miami goes to their "lets take a QB in the second round" strategy, taking Chad Henne with the 57th (after taking Phillip Merling with the 32nd)...what makes this draft interesting is that with previous drafts going more positively (meaning our needs at QB, RB, DE would already be addressed), Miami could have used the 32nd selection for DeSean Jackson (WR Phi-49), Matt Forte (RB Chi-44), Ray Rice (RB Balt-55) or even Tracy Porter (CB NO-40)...but it's the Kendall Langford at 66 instead of Jamaal Charles (RB KC-73) or Jermichael Finley (TE GB-91) that grabs me. Of course, in the later rounds, Miami selects Shawn Murphy at 110 while Carl Nicks (OT NO-164), who plays the same position...and much better...could be had 50 picks later. This draft hurts if only from the idea that Miami addressed needs that could have been solidified in previous drafts, thus enabling the Dolphins to either trade up or down for depth and quality.
2009 Draft: Tony's second draft, but I have to mention it for a couple of reasons...Vontae Davis over Clay Matthews (notice how Miami could have drafted a great number of the core of Green Bay Packers who have won a superbowl) and the all-time worst 2nd round pick in Miami (if not the NFL) history...which goes quite nicely with the 2007 Ted Ginn fiasco...Pat White. Pat was the 44th overall selection and played one year in the NFL (his rookie year)...while Miami passes on LeSean McCoy (who by the way is the starting RB on the team where Ronnie Brown is the backup). Of course, taking Patrick Turner over Austin Collie was another gem, seeing as how Turner is no longer with Miami...well...in reality not many of Miami's last decade of draft picks are still with the team.
Now I know that the NFL draft is a crap shoot...that not every team can hit a home run with every pick, and certainly it's very easy to go back with hindsight and cherry pick the best selections over all of the rounds...but even with Miami failing to draft Tom Brady (as did every other NFL team for 5 rounds), selecting the FRANCHISE QB that this team has lacked since Marino retired in 99 has been there for the taking....most notably Aaron Rodgers. From that, think of the draft picks wasted on the likes of AJ Feely, John Beck, Chad Henne, Pat White that could have been used for some of the players mentioned that were passed over. Certainly any sensible GM/Coach would have let Ted Ginn, jr pass to the 2nd or even 3rd round and been happy with Patrick Willis or Darrelle Revis. Obviously, having Aaron Rodgers would have changed Miami's subsequent drafts (certainly wouldn't have finished 1-15 in 2007), but if anything, this post simply points out the recent failures of the Miami Dolphins begins with the draft. Thinking that Aaron Rodgers handing off to Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles while throwing it to Brandon Marshall (who also could have been drafted outright by Miami in 2006...he was selected with the 119th selection...Miami chose offensive lineman Joe Toledo with the 114th...it certainly would have saved two more second round picks from being traded away) and DeSean Jackson...it would be nice to go back in history...but then again, if I could go back in history, I would have invested in Microsoft when it was still a penny stock. Hoping Joe Philbin has a better time drafting than our previous four first year coaches...and I didn't even mention Jimmy Johnson trading out of the spot where Randy Moss was drafted to select John Avery, thus not giving Marino that one WR that could have extended his career. Oh well...Draft is coming up guys...and seeing as how Free Agents aren't exactly knocking down Miami's door, you might