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Offensive Tackle vs Defensive End

First off, I just want to apologize to all who tried logging onto this site over the past few hours.  There were some major technical issues all across SB Nation.  Hopefully, they are all behind us now.  A big shout out to Trei and his team for working behind the scenes here until all the issues were (hopefully) resolved.

Now before we get into the meat of this post, I just wanted to say that the transition to the new site has been generally pretty smooth.  And that's thanks in large part to the great job being done by Trei and his team.  Kudos to those guys!

Also, two things I wanted to highlight about the new site.  First of all, I want to point out the new "recommend" feature.  I think this feature is going to be very valuable, especially in regards to the FanPosts (formerly known as "diaries").  I want to really encourage you all to make use of the "recommend" feature for FanPosts because once a very informative/well-written FanPost gets a certain number of recs, it moves to the top where it says "Recommended FanPosts."  This allows the best and most well written/thought-provoking posts by you guys to remain at the top and not get lost in the shuffle.  So I encourage you all to simply click the "recommend" button when you are reading a FanPost that you like very much and that could spark some great discussion.

The other thing I wanted to point out is that we will be doing a live blog on Saturday (for most, if not all of the first 2 rounds) and for at least the early part of day 2 on Sunday.  It'll be a good test run for the auto-refreshing comments, which I really think you will all love.  So be sure to check in early and often on Saturday, as the excitement builds towards our two 2nd round picks as well as the potential trade of Jason Taylor.

OT vs DE

Now onto the main purpose of this post.  Some people have already touched on this, but I don't think they really highlighted it enough.  Therefore, I just wanted to quickly address this issue of taking an offensive tackle in the top 5 as opposed to taking a defensive end.  As has been pointed out, these were the two positions the Dolphins were looking to address with that #1 overall pick.

Going back to 1990, 8 offensive tackles have been drafted in the top 5.  Of those 8, only 2 can be considered busts.  Those two are Mike Williams, drafted by Buffalo in 2002, and Robert Gallery, drafted by Oakland in 2004.  And Gallery, despite being a bust at tackle, seems to have found his niche as a guard.  However, you don't take guards in the top 5, so he is still a bust.  The jury is still out on two other players, Levi Brown and D'Brickashaw Ferguson.  So the bust rate since 1990 for tackles is 25%.  But keep in mind that those 8 players have combined for 18 pro bowl appearances, which is quite impressive.

Moving along to defensive end, there have been 12 drafted in the top 5 since 1990.  Of those 12, six have been busts (Keith McCants, Steve Emtman, John Copeland, Cedric Jones, Andre Wadsworth, and Courtney Brown).  And I've left off Darrell Russell, who could be considered a bust despite his two pro bowl appearances.  The jury remains out on Gaines Adams, too, but I got a feeling he might end up being a bust as well.  But for arguments sake, we'll say that just 6 have been busts, putting the bust rate for top 5 defensive ends at 50% since 1990.  And combined, these 12 players have combined to reach just 8 pro bowls.

So for the sake of comparison, offensive tackle has a pro bowl rate of 2.25 (18 appearances among 8 players) while defensive end has a pro bowl rate of 0.66 (8 appearances among 12 players).  When you take into consideration Jake Long's specific talent, skill set, work ethic, and demeanor, then it's easy to understand exactly why Jake was the safest pick for the Dolphins.

Why I Like the Pick

I've said on here a lot since the news broke of the signing if Jake Long, but I haven't really explained why I'm a big fan of the pick.  And it's not just because he's the safest pick for the Dolphins, though I do feel that he is.  And I like the fact that if things don't work out for Jake on the left side, he could definitely slide over to the right side and be a perennial pro bowl player.  But with that said, I'm confident in this regime (especially Tony Sparano since his background is as an OL coach) that they will get Jake to play at a high level on the left side and that he will be that Richmond Webb type of player for this franchise.

Another thing about this pick is that Jake will come in here and instantly make an impact.  Even if he struggles early on in pass protection on the left side, he's going to be a simply dominant run blocker, meaning Ronnie, Ricky, and LoBo are going to have some big lanes to run through.  This will allow the Dolphins to keep the ball on the ground and chew up the clock, helping keep the defense fresh and taking pressure off of whoever the QB ends up being.  So while this pick was on the offensive side of the ball, it also helps out the Dolphins' defense.

But perhaps the biggest reason I like this pick is because of the tone it sets for this new era of Dolphins football.  Jake Long embodies everything that this new regime preaches: smart, tough, and disciplined football.  He's a dedicated, hard working player who will eventually be a leader in the locker room.  His work ethic is likely going to rub off on all of his teammates and his mean streak on the field will set the tone on gamedays.  This pick also shows that the Dolphins will be committed to hard-nose, physical football that begins and ends in the trenches.  In a day and age where deep passes and flashy players seem to dominate the highlight shows, this new regime in Miami is letting everyone know that they are going to play football the way it was meant to be played.

Now I just can't wait to see what this new regime has planned for the rest of the draft and the rest of the offseason.  Surely, things will only get better and more exciting from here.

Thoughts below...