MDD Assistant Editor: Chad Pullen
With the offseason coming to a close soon, we’ve taken a look back at some of the history of the NFL Draft that has shaped the Dolphins franchise, good and bad. Over the last couple weeks, we have counted down the ten best and worst draft picks in Dolphins history, in our final installment, we look at the greatest player and draft pick in Dolphins history, and a first round special teams ace taken extremely too early.
#1 Best: QB Dan Marino – 1983 – First round, #27 overall
Certainly not a big surprise to anyone that calls themselves a Miami Dolphins fan. Marino is the unquestioned best player, and subsequently the best draft pick in the 40 plus years of Dolphins history. Marino burst onto the scene with the Rookie of the Year award in ’83, then topped that with the most impressive sophomore season in NFL history with his record setting MVP season of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. When Marino retired after the 1999 season, he was the NFL all-time leader in pass completions (4,967), pass attempts (8,358), passing yards (61,361) and passing touchdowns (420). Marino also holds numerous Dolphin records including a whopping 63 300 yard games and 13 400 yard games. Dan spent a total of 17 seasons as Miami’s signal caller and played in 242 games with a 147-93 with him as the starting QB. A nine time pro bowler as well as three time NFL All Pro, Marino also has 11 of the top 12 passing games in Miami history. (2012 first-round QB Ryan Tannehill has the other) Marino’s legacy remains in question historically having reached the Super Bowl only one time in his career during his second season no less. However, as our list of best and worst draft picks has indicated, the late 80’s were barren in terms of solid draft picks built around a franchise QB during an era where passing the ball was much more difficult than it is today.
#1 Worst: WR Ted Ginn Jr. – 2007 – First round, #9 overall
A top 10 pick should usually be a perennial pro bowl caliber player for at least a good 6-7 year stretch, dependent on position and life expectancy in the NFL. Quarterbacks, offensive tackles, cornerbacks, and defensive ends usually have a premium placed on them, as they are the most valuable positions on the field typically, and supplies can be short for their demand. Wide receiver however, is not a position in short supply, and very few go in the top half of the draft. Many of the games great wide receivers went much later than the ninth pick in the draft. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, Brandon Marshall, Mike Wallace, all guys that stand out when a Calvin Johnson is used as an example that disproves the rule. Ted Ginn however, is none of those guys. What he was was a family friend of the newly hired head coach and a special team’s speed demon that absolutely did not translate onto the NFL stage in 2007. Ginn and #4 on our list combined as one draft class and predictably went out and went 1-15 in their rookie seasons, the worst in Dolphins history. Like several others on this list, GInn also lasted only three years in Miami, contributing 128 catches for 1,664 yards in 48 games. He did score 10 touchdowns in those three seasons in a variety of ways, five on pass receptions, 2 rushing TD’s, one punt return and two kickoff returns. His biggest impact was clearly his return abilities, hardly worthy of a top ten overall draft pick. Miami had the opportunity in the 2007 draft to completely alter the history of the franchise as well as the AFC East as a whole. Rather than drafting Ginn at #9 and QB John Beck in the second-round, Miami had the opportunity to take CB Darrelle Revis and DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley in the second-round. Combine those with actual fourth-round DT Paul Soliai, and the Dolphins defense could have been tenacious and potentially reshaped the futures of AFC rivals the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. Those three players in the same draft class would be equivalent to the 1983 class of Marino, Punter Reggie Roby and WR Mark Clayton in terms of production with the franchise. Even if Miami was dead set on WR, Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs was taken later in the first-round and already has 39 touchdowns and just under 6,000 yards on his resume.