As we’re only now three weeks away from the NFL Draft, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the draft history of our Miami Dolphins. I want to look at trends such as; which positions have we selected the most times. More importantly, I want to see which picks worked out best and which were less successful. I can’t go through all the Dolphins 615 draft picks, but I’ll pick out the most important points.
The First Draft
The first draft that Miami participated in was in late 1965 but is referred to as the 1966 draft. This was the last AFL draft before the merger. The Dolphins had been added to the AFL as an expansion team and, therefore, were given the #1 pick in each round. The Dolphins selected 21 players over 20 rounds. Two players were selected at the top of RD1: Jim Grabowski (RB) and Rick Norton (QB). Three players were selected from Illinois whilst 2 were taken from both Kentucky and Tennessee. A number of the players selected never actually played for the Dolphins. Grabowski was also selected in the NFL draft by the Packers and played for them instead until 1971. RD12 pick, Howard Twilley, was the only player to suit up for the Dolphins in their inaugural season and also in the perfect season of 1972.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) April 2, 2020
Number 1 Picks
The Fins have selected 50 players in RD1 in total. If we do end up selecting 3 players in this year’s draft, it will be the first time the Dolphins have done so. There have been 5 occasions where 2 players have been selected in RD1. On 9 occasions, the Fins haven’t had a RD1 pick. The last time Miami didn’t have a pick in RD1 was 2003 where Eddie Moore (LB) was the first selection with pick #49 in RD2.
As we know all too well, the Fins have not always made successful RD1 picks. DeVante Parker may finally be bucking the trend of failed RD1 receivers, but how can we forget Ted Ginn and Yatil Green. Recently, the Dolphins seem to have had trouble evaluating Defensive Linemen – Charles Harris, Dion Jordan, and Jared Odrick are best forgotten. There’s still a chance that Charles Harris could kick-start his career in 2020, but only 3 of the last 12 RD1 picks are still with the team. RD1 Defensive Backs have also been a disappointing bunch. Jason Allen in 2006 was taken with the 16th pick in what was an historically poor draft for the Fins.
On a more positive note, the Fins have used their first pick to select future hall of famers on 3 occasions (Griese, Csonka, Marino.) The Fins have spent most RD1 selections on Offensive Tackles. There have been 9 Tackles taken in RD1 and most have been good picks; especially in recent years.
The breakdown of RD1 picks by position is: OT (9), DE/EDGE (8), DB (7), RB (7), DT (5), WR (5), QB (4), LB (3), IOL (2). The Fins have selected players from 35 different colleges. Miami is one of the two colleges that have provided 3 separate RD1 picks for the Fins. The other is, surprisingly, Ole Miss with the most recent being Laremy Tunsil in 2016.
Round 2 Success (apart from the QB)
While the RD1 picks have often been head-scratchers, Miami have had a lot of success drafting players in RD2. Xavien Howard (2016) is the highlight RD2 pick in recent years. Jarvis Landry, although no longer with the team, was a great RD2 pick in 2014. Another WR, Chris Chambers, was a steal in RD2 in 2001. Pat Surtain, Sam Madison, Keith Sims, John Offerdahl, Mark Duper, Dwight Stephenson, Bob Baumhower, and Jim Mandich are other legendary Fins drafted in RD2.
Although RD2 has been a source of a lot of successful Dolphins’ players, Quarterbacks taken in RD2 have not panned out. Pat White (’09), Chad Henne (’08), and John Beck (’07) were selected in 3 consecutive drafts. White managed just 13 games in South Florida. Henne is still in the league but was never likely to be more than a back-up.
Every NFL team strives to find value players later in the draft. The Dolphins have had a number of players drafted in the bottom half of the draft (RD5 and below) that have had successful and productive careers. In recent years, we’ve seen players like Jason Sanders (RD7 in 2018), Davon Godchaux (RD5 in 2017), Jakeem Grant (RD6 in 2016), and both Bobby McCain and Jay Ajayi taken in RD5 in 2015.
1981 was a good year for value picks. Fulton Walker, William Judson, and Jim Jensen were all drafted after RD5. Other players taken in RD5 or lower include Jim Kiick (’68), Jake Scott (’70), Vern Den Herder (’71), Reggie Roby (’83), Mark Clayton (’83), Jeff Cross (’88), Bryan Cox (’91), Zach Thomas (’96), and Reshad Jones (2010).
The most valuable pick ever may be Jason Taylor who was drafted in RD3 in 1997; 73rd overall.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) March 31, 2020
Looking over Miami’s 615 draft picks, there are some interesting things that stand out. Most younger Fins fans won’t know that Miami drafted Joe Theismann in 1971. Theismann ended up spending 3 years in the Canadian Football League before the Dolphins traded him to the Redskins in 1974 for a RD1 pick. The Fins used the pick to select Larry Gordon (LB) who managed 7 seasons in aqua and orange.
In consecutive years, the Dolphins selected defensive linemen who would eventually have sons playing in the NFL. In 1987, the Dolphins selected John Bosa. John is the father of Joey and Nick Bosa who are now two of the best Edge Rushers in the league. In 1988 the Fins used their RD1 pick to select Eric Kumerow. Eric’s son Jake is currently a Wide Receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
Mike Kozlowski was drafted in 1979. I had to Google to see if that was the same name as the little green guy from Monster Inc. It wasn’t, I was disappointed.
The History of 14 Draft Picks
If trading up is in Chris Grier’s future, it may be that Miami don’t end up making 14 selections in April. 14 picks, however, would not be anywhere near the most picks the Fins made in any single year. As already mentioned, in 1966 Miami had 21 picks. The most selections, in a single year, was 22 in both 1974 and 1975. The Fins have had 14 or more selections on 19 previous occasions although most of those were in the sixties, seventies, or eighties when the draft far exceeded 7 rounds. The last time Miami had 14 picks was in 1997 when Yatil Green was selected with the 15th pick (I promise I won’t mention this again).
50 Greatest Dolphins
In 2016, the Dolphins selected their top 50 players of all time. Of those players, 36 were drafted by the Dolphins. 10 of the top 50 were taken with Miami’s RD1 pick, the most recent of which being Mike Pouncey. 7 of the players, including Paul Warfield, Nick Buoniconti, and Ricky Williams were drafted by other teams. 7 other players went undrafted including hall of fame Offensive linemen, Jim Langer and Larry Little before they landed with Miami. Manny Fernandez went undrafted but signed with the Dolphins before going anywhere else in 1968. Cameron Wake spent a few years in Canada, after going undrafted, before signing with the Fins in 2009.