Think back to the 2005 offseason. Optimism was as high as we'd seen in Miami following the hiring of Nick Saban as head coach. Having the 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft also played a part in that optimism. Surely, with a guy like Saban at the helm, the Dolphins would land a star player with that 2nd overall draft pick.
Four years later, we can look back at the 2005 1st round and proclaim that Saban did at least get one thing right. Ronnie Brown was the right pick for the Dolphins at #2 overall. And when you look at all the picks around Ronnie, you see that things really could have taken a turn for the worse had Saban decided to go with somebody else.
Braylon Edwards is really the only other top 10 pick who would have deserved to be selected 2nd overall. And, depending on who you ask, Saban may or may not have lied to Edwards about Miami's intentions to make him the 2nd overall pick of the draft. But even Edwards isn't clearly a better option than Brown turned out to be. Braylon only has scored 3 more touchdowns that Brown. And, in all honesty, Edwards only has had 1 great season - his 2007 season. Outside of that year, Edwards hasn't topped 900 yards receiving or scored more than 6 touchdowns in a season.
The thing we all knew, though, entering the '05 offseason was that the Dolphins were in desperate need of a running back. And with 3 high-caliber backs available in the draft, there was heated debate as to who should have been the top back selected in the draft. Now I'll be honest - Brown was the back I wanted the Dolphins to take, if only because he didn't have the wear and tear on him that both Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams had on them.
As it turns out, Ronnie was indeed the best back of the three available - so good call by Saban once again. Both Benson and Williams have been plauged by a combination of injuries and inconsistency. Here's how the three top 5 backs drafted in '05 stack up against each other:
All those numbers do is just reiterate what we already know - that Ronnie is the best of those 3 backs.
What about other players that were picked in the top 10? Would any of them have been a better pick than Brown? Alex Smith went first overall - and he's been a total bust. Pacman Jones was the 6th pick - and he's now looking for work (and trying to stay out of jail). Troy Williamson was the 7th pick - and he stinks, totaling 84 career catches over 4 seasons. Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rodgers are both solid players. Rolle, particularly, has played well since finding a new home as a safety rather than a corner. And the 10th overall pick was Mike Williams, who owns 44 career receptions and was out of football in 2008.
However, there is one player who was drafted in round 1 who fell out of the top 10 - actually, out of the top 20 - but might have been a better pick than Brown. That player is Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers fell all the way to pick 24 before being scooped up by the Packers. And all Rodgers has done is sit behind Brett Favre for 3 seasons before throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.
And that makes you wonder.
Would it have been smarter to draft Aaron Rodgers with that #2 overall pick? Think about it for a second. Selecting Rodgers would have prevented the Dolphins from making such dumb moves as trading a 2nd round pick for Daunte Culpepper. And it would have saved 2 more 2nd round picks as well, with Miami not having to spend picks on John Beck and Chad Henne. That's 3 extra 2nd rounders for the Dolphins if they had selected Rodgers 2nd overall in 2005.
That's why I'll pose this question to all of you. Do you think the Dolphins - in the long run - would have been better off selecting Aaron Rodgers 2nd overall rather than Ronnie Brown?