I've been reading the daily updates on the Top 100 Dolphins football players based on Pro Football Reference grading system. Great trip down memory lane for a lot of these players, many of which fly way under the radar to the modern fans of the Dolphins. But as a long-time fan of the Dolphins (since 1976), some of the ratings just don't do justice to how important some of the players were to the team while others had their ratings inflated due to longevity or however they determined their career score.
So I decided to compile an all-time Dolphins team based on my subjective best players at all the individual positions. I ranked three players at unique positions (like QB or TE) and ranked 5 players at positions with multiple players on the field at one time (OT or DE). It's fairly easy to pick the top player or two at all the positions, but gets a little tougher as you move down the all-time depth chart. Selections to choose the 5th inside linebacker or 3rd tight end get a little difficult.
So I'll start on the back end of the defense and give you my top 5 Dolphins safeties of all time. Next posting I'll move to the CB's.The top 5 safeties on my list include the following (regardless of strong/free safety position):
1. Dick Anderson. 2. Jake Scott. 3. Glenn Blackwood 4. Brock Marion. 5. Louis Oliver
The top two slots are very easy to choose, and really are 1a and 1b. Difficult to choose who is better out of these two guys, Scott was a phenomenal player with great instincts and athleticism while Anderson was always in perfect position to make the big play when needed. I'll take Anderson first because he was with the Dolphins a few more years than Scott and was a Dolphins lifer. Scott makes a perfect pair with him on the all-time list and these two players will be forever linked. Each had their biggest moments in big games, Anderson with his 4-interception performance in the playoffs and Scott with his Super Bowl MVP (although it probably should have gone to Fernandez). Both were borderline HOF players, just falling short due to their careers not extended a few more years at the highest level.
Glenn Blackwood comes in at #3 on the list, leading the tough early 80's Dolphins secondary as one of the best in the entire NFL for 4-5 years. He also was a Dolphins player for life and gained a lot of notoriety by playing with his brother Lyle for a few years and being a key component in the "Killer B's." He could lay a WR or RB out flat and played the pass exceptionally well also. Brock Marion I almost didn't include because he played half his career on other teams than the Dolphins, but there is no doubt he had the best years of his career in a Dolphins uniform. He went to multiple Pro Bowls, was the leader of the best secondary (with Madison and Surtain) in the NFL for a few years, and could return kick-offs as an additional bonus. Louis Oliver slips in at #5. He had his faults (not so great at playing the pass at times) but could knock you into next week and had some huge plays in his career (103 yrd. int. return).
There were a few other candidates to challenge the above players, but I think in the end the top 5 listed above are pretty solid candidates. Tim Foley was probably the biggest challenger but he really played more CB and we'll see him in that list. Yeremiah Bell made a Pro Bowl but was more known for his consistency rather than making big plays. Lyle Blackwood had some big years with his brother but in the end is more of a Colt (and I have excluded players who are more known for playing with other teams, so you won't be seeing Keith Jackson at TE later on in the series). I also have to mention my favorite back-up safety, or nickel-back, of all time, Mike Kozlowski. He never started but played for 7 years and could equally play the run or pass. His back-to-back int/TD's against the Jets in the last game of 1983 is still one of my favorite fan moments watching the Dolphins.
Let me know what you think of the list or how you would rate it differently. Cornerbacks are up in my next posting, and it is a difficult choice in both ranking the 5 players I selected as well as not including a few players.