In anticipation for an NFL Draft, all 32 teams will spend millions of dollars on scouting, interviews, and debates to find the perfect fit for their team. Talent, while it plays a huge part, is not the only driving force behind a draft pick. Coaches and general managers have a vision in mind for what they believe will win a Super Bowl. They scour the colleges looking for the best personality, work ethic and skill set to fit what they are trying to accomplish. Sometimes the hard work pays off and they get their man.
The Miami Dolphins, throughout the years, have found some absolute gems in the draft. Dan Marino, Bob Griese, and Larry Csonka all became Hall of Famers as first round picks. Richmond Webb, Troy Vincent, and Mike Pouncey all have been multiple-time Pro Bowlers throughout their careers. But it’s not just the first round that has produced greatness. Zach Thomas was a fifth round pick, Jason Taylor was a third round pick, and Mark Clayton was an eighth round pick. Those late round picks prove that no matter how much you research, sometimes chemistry and work ethic are a better fit for a team then talent.
The talent of a player, however, can be overwhelming when that pick comes up. General managers and coaches can fall in love with a player because of what they perceive is a great fit. When a team misses on a draft pick, it can be disastrous, sometimes costing coaches and general managers their jobs. Sometimes they miss the pick because the player loses their work ethic. Sometimes the coach and the GM are just not on the same page and the player never gets used to their full potential. Whatever the reason is, there are times when a player just doesn’t work out. Lets take a look at the Miami Dolphins and their top 15 draft picks that ended up being busts.
15. Dion Jordan
This is a classic example of a coach and GM not being on the same page. Jeff Ireland traded up to select Dion Jordan with the third overall pick in 2013. He was projected as the top outside linebacker in the draft, but coach Joe Philbin insisted that he would be a defensive end. He was never a Philbin guy and found it difficult to get on the field, even though he was impressive when he did finally get out there. Having missed more than a season due to PED suspensions (even though his last test wasn’t a failure but a diluted test sample, which still leads to a suspension) this is a make or break year for him.
14. Jason Allen
Nick Saban made a lot of mistakes in Miami. Like trading for Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington or his now famous press conference where he guaranteed he would not be the next head coach of Alabama… only to be named their head coach less then two weeks later. Jason Allen was a perfect example of a coach falling in love with a player. He wanted Allen out of high school when he was coaching for LSU. That love was still there in 2006 when he spent a first round pick on him (16th overall). His only productive season came in 2007 when he played safety, as the insistence of playing him as a CB did nothing to help and he was gone after four years.
13. Jamar Fletcher
Between Jimmy Johnson trading down in the draft and Dave Wannstedt trading two picks for Ricky Williams, the Dolphins had one first round pick during the Wannstedt era. They spent that pick on cornerback Jamar Fletcher (26th overall). The Dolphins still had Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain in 2001, so spending a first round pick on a CB may not have been the best decision. Fletcher never really panned out in Miami only registering 48 tackles and two interceptions in three years. He was traded to San Diego in 2004 for David Boston who, after a failed drug test before the 2004 season, played five games in two years for the Dolphins.
12. Rick Norton
Playing for an expansion team is tough. There isn’t a ton of talent surrounding you and there is a lot of media pressure since they want you to prove your worth as a franchise. Rick Norton was the second overall pick in 1966 for the expansion Dolphins. Even though he was on an expansion team, having only six touchdown passes and thirty interceptions in four seasons was less than acceptable for a first round pick. The first overall pick that year also belonged to the Dolphins and they selected RB Jim Grabowski. He chose to sign with the NFL instead. Not a good way to start a franchise.
11. Eric Kumerow
A first round pick is usually expected to be a franchise type player. At the very least, they should be a starter. In 1988, the Dolphins selected Eric Kumerow with the 16th overall pick. He may have been the exact opposite of a franchise player, only lasting three years in the NFL. To say poor play led to his departure was an understatement. He had five sacks and twenty five tackles while never once starting a game. The Dolphins wanted Kumerow so badly that they refused a trade down with the Bears, which would have given them an extra second round pick.
10. John Beck
2007 was a very bad year for Dolphins fans. It ended with a 1-15 season, but started with one of the most annoying drafts in recent history for the team. The Dolphins needed a franchise quarterback. The fans knew it, the media knew it, the front office knew it. Seems the only person affiliated with the team that didn’t know it was the people in charge of scouting. Of course you can find franchise QBs later in the draft, but they usually aren’t 26 years old. Beck never really made an impact in Miami after being drafted 40th overall, only playing in five games (all during his rookie season). Otherwise he was a career back up and lasted two seasons in Miami.
9. Darryl Carlton
Darryl Carlton was a first round pick in 1975 (23rd overall) out of the University of Tampa after what was Tampa’s final season as a college football program. He was a rare mountain of a man being 6’6″and weighing 271 pounds. He had the strength, size and look of someone who should have been a franchise tackle in the NFL for more than a decade. He never quite caught on, only starting nine games in his Dolphins career. After a disappointing two seasons, Don Shula gave up on him and he was traded to the Buccaneers for offensive tackle Mike Current and a draft pick.
8. John Bosa
A couple of entries ago, we discussed Eric Kumerow, who was drafted one year after John Bosa in the first round at the exact same position. Kumerow was a bust but what does that say about Bosa? They essentially gave up on him after one year, after he was selected 16th overall. Bosa played three years in Miami and accounted for a total of seven sacks, which is a slight improvement over Kumerow but he was given longer to prove himself, making Bosa a bigger bust since he was given more time.
7. Sammie Smith
Sammie Smith was drafted 9th overall in 1989 and had 532 rushing yards in four seasons in the NFL, which is hardly what you would expect from a top 10 draft pick. Don Shula spent over a decade trying to find a running back for Dan Marino and missed badly with this selection. Smith spent three years in Miami before being shipped of to Denver in exchange for another first round running back bust, Bobby Humphrey.
6. Chad Henne
Miami Dolphins fans cringe at the mere mention of Chad Henne’s name. The image of Brandon Marshall alligator arming passes over the middle then screaming at his quarterback still wake them up at night. Henne was drafted in 2008, in the second round by Bill Parcells, after an average college career in Michigan. He was a back up and after sitting his rookie season, Henne became the starter in 2009 when Chad Pennington went down with an injury. He was not very productive, throwing only 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions for Miami. Henne was injured in 2012 during the fourth game of the season and never took another snap in Miami.
5. Jackie Shipp
When you are a first round pick and a member of a Super Bowl team in your rookie year, things should definitely be looking up for your career. That wasn’t the case for Jackie Shipp. In the 1984 Draft, Miami selected linebacker Jackie Shipp 14th overall to help anchor the “No Name” defense. Sadly, Shipp was just another no name on the team. He played five years in Miami, with three of them as a starter, and had one interception and one sack for his entire career. In 1989, he signed with the Raiders and couldn’t find his feet with them either, playing in only three games.
4. Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn really didn’t have a terrible career in Miami, but a ninth overall draft pick should be more than a good return man. It wasn’t all Ginn’s fault, as he wasn’t playing with elite QBs during his time there. Cam Cameron, however, thought he was going to be the next Jerry Rice. In 2007, the Dolphins were in desperate need of a franchise quarterback and everyone in the world thought Brady Quinn was going to be that guy. So, at least Dolphins fans’ didn’t have to endure Brady Quinn…
Here’s the really tough part. Patrick Willis and Marshawn Lynch went two and three picks after Ginn respectively.
3. John Avery
Jimmy Johnson had a lot of trouble finding a running back for Dan Marino. John Avery was a first round pick and, much like Ted Ginn, he just was not much more than a return man. After a very uneventful season in Miami, he was traded to Denver in exchange for Marcus Nash, who was waved by Miami the next week. Avery didn’t fair much better in Denver, as he was cut after training camp. He did find some success in Vince McMahon’s XFL in 2001, where he rushed for 1,449 yards in the XFL.
2. Pat White
This was the third straight year that the Dolphins chose a quarterback in the second round. Pat White was easily the least effective of the three (even though all three of them have appeared on this list). Bill Parcels and Tony Sparano sold the fans on White being the perfect player for the Wildcat system. The pick was redundant since the whole purpose of the Wildcat was to get the team’s two best offensive players on the field at the same time, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Having White taking snaps was no different than Chad Henne staying in. White only lasted one season with Miami.
1. Yatil Green
Typically, we wouldn’t call someone who was injured a bust since injuries aren’t a true judge of talent. However, in the case of Yatil Green, the injuries did not end his career. A first round draft pick in 1997 (15th overall), Green tore his ACL on the first day of training camp. In 1998, he tore the same ACL during training camp and by 1999, he was ready to play. He got into eight games that season, but only accounted for 18 receptions and no touchdowns. He was released after the 1999 season. After a couple of failed comebacks with the Jets and Raiders, he was out of football for good.
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