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Miami Dolphins Bottom-5 Worst Draft Picks of the 21st Century

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jonathan Brownfield-USA TODAY Sports

What a strenuously easy task to take on.

In a century littered with terrible draft picks, the problem wasn’t finding players to fit the criteria, it was deciding which players were more-deserving than the others.

Though every team is expected to have annual draft “busts”, the Miami Dolphins have made it their mission to screw up the most-prominent picks they have accrued this century.

How often do teams get multiple 2nd-round draft picks 3 years in a row (answer: since 2000, 2, both the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots had multiple 2nd-round picks between 2009-2011), and yet, with those additional selections, the Dolphins couldn’t create a roster that had more than 1 winning season (2016).

If you were basing your bottom-5 off of statistics alone, your list would consist of 5 players that you’ve never heard of. Players like Jeff Harris (CB – 2000), Josh Heupel (QB – 2001), Tim Provost (T – 2003), Drew Mormino (C – 2007) or Chris McCoy (DE – 2010). So for the bottom-5 draft picks, we’re also taking into account value, overall performance and eventual implications to the Dolphins franchise.

See who made the cut and who just missed down below:

5) Jason Allen – 1st-round (#16 overall)

The punctuation mark to Nick Saban‘s tenure as the Miami Dolphins head coach.

Infamously choosing Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees, Saban was clearly over-matched at the NFL level. A stellar college head coach who was used to recruiting a dominant team full of high school’s best players, Saban was surprised to learn that you only get a few elite talents – the rest you have to actually “coach up”.

Well, Saban’s coaching philosophy of yelling at everyone was confirmed after he made Manuel Wright cry during training camp back in 2005. Problem is, it didn’t translate to a successful NFL team.

Insert one of those lottery tickets Saban had to work with. Instead of bolstering the team around him, he failed miserably when he over-drafted Jason Allen with the 16th-overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.

It’s easy to look at this in retrospect, but the only players selected after Allen that you could deem as “worse” picks were Manny Lawson (22nd-overall), John McCargo (26th) and Kelly Jennings (31st). The next cornerback taken in the draft? Antonio Cromartie at 19.

Allen lasted 4.5 years with the Dolphins and was active for 71 total games while starting just 19 of them. He averaged less than 2 interceptions per season with Miami (8 total interceptions), forced one fumble back in 2007, and never even recorded a quarterback hit let alone a sack. Allen had 19 passes defended during his Dolphins tenure, which was a mere average of 4.22 per season. And it’s not because opposing QBs avoided Allen, he just never seemed to defend his assignment well.

A missed 1st-round pick at #16 overall isn’t terrible, but General Manager Randy Mueller (2005-2007) is responsible for Ronnie Brown (not Aaron Rodgers), Jason Allen (not….anyone else) and Ted Ginn Jr. (the second receiver taken after Calvin Johnson that draft). If there was a worse stretch of crushing 1st-round draft picks for the Miami Dolphins, it was well before the NFL draft was viewed as favorably as it is now. While all 3 have hurt Miami in their own ways, Allen is certainly the least productive of the bunch and he finds himself above the other two disappointments.

4) Phillip Merling – 2nd-round (#32 overall)

Essentially an extra 1st-round pick, Miami figured it would solidify two bookend positions by getting an elite left tackle and a dominant defensive end. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, only 1/2 of that premonition came true (Jake Long) – and even that reprieve was only temporary.

Phillip Merling was an absolute disaster for Miami. Kendall Langford, drafted in the 3rd-round and 34 picks later, had a much more extensive and productive career than Merling did; which is great for Langford and the “acorn” they were able to uncover, but it also means that Miami’s most valuable assets (high draft picks) were failures that required additional assets to cover these mistakes.

Merling survived his rookie contract with the team, but managed to start just 5 games throughout his tenure. He combined to record 67 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss and 10 QB hits (an average of 16.75 tackles / 1.25 TFLs / 2.5 QB hits per season).

His lone highlight remains the infamous interception return for a touchdown against Brett Favre and the New York Jets to help seal the division for Miami in 2008. Though even that memory doesn’t sway us from remembering how underwhelming he was for the Dolphins.

3) Pat White – 2nd-round (#44 overall)

It shows you just how much of an impact Players 1 and 2 on this list had for the Miami Dolphins organization when Pat White is #3.

From a player perspective, Pat White is most likely the worst draft pick this century. When researching his statistics, he appears as a rusher before a quarterback. That’s because during the 13 games he was active for his rookie season, White managed to rush 21 times for 81 yards (3.9 yards/carry) and, fitting enough, threw only 5 passes – completing 0 of them.

His career quarterback rating: 39.6. For comparisons sake, Nathan Peterman‘s career QB rating is 68.5.

Originally drafted to be the wildcard in Tony Sparano‘s Wildcat offense, Pat White lacked the size, weight, strength and skill necessary to be a productive NFL player.

Visions of opposing defenses standing utterly confused and left wondering if Pat White was going to throw, run or hand the ball off never came to fruition. And it all came to a halt after White took a nasty hit from Ike Taylor of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 his rookie year.

White suffered a concussion and never played another down in the NFL.

Though White’s rushing numbers in college were impressive for West Virginia (an average of 1120 rushing yards per season), his passing numbers were equivalently unimpressive (an average of 1512 passing yards per season).

Whatever Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano schemed up, it was about as harmonious and successful as their tenure together.

2) Dion Jordan – 1st-round (#3 overall)

One was self-destructive while the other affected different lives and entities; that’s probably the lone (yet significant) difference between #2 and #1 on our list.

After orchestrating a draft-day steal of a trade with the Oakland Raiders, Jeff Ireland then went and lit that good fortune ablaze when he selected the extremely athletic yet eternally turmoiled Dion Jordan.

If Ireland was hesitant to draft Dez Bryant, I’m not sure what convinced him to take Jordan with the #3 overall pick.

A history of demons that he assured was behind him, the Dolphins couldn’t pass up on a perfectly prototypical defensive end. Mired with internal struggles and negative influences from his friends & family, Jordan fell victim to the vices that plagued him; rendering him nearly nonexistent throughout his Dolphins tenure.

During his “4-year career” with the Dolphins, Jordan was active for just 26 games (41% of all possible games) and made only 1 start. He racked up 46 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss and 7 QB hits.

His “4-year career” is a mirage, as his last snap with the team was in 2014. After missing the 2015 season due to a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and missing 2016 “recovering from an injury”, Jordan signed with the Seattle Seahawks and proceeded to have a more-productive 5-game stretch out west than he combined to have in 4 years back east.

In just those 5 games, Jordan accumulated 18 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss and 5 QB hits while also forcing a fumble – which was something he never accomplished in Miami (a turnover).

Since Jordan last played for the Dolphins, the team has gone through players like Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Robert Quinn and Charles Harris in hopes of finding a suitable starting defensive end. Olivier Vernon was the last productive player to line up opposite Cameron Wake, and he only cost a 3rd-round pick. To still be searching for a viable defensive end 6 offseasons later speaks to the detriment Jordan caused as a failed #3-overall pick.

Honorable Mentions

Here we have the list of players that bring us dread, discomfort and dismay. These players weren’t simply unsuccessful, but they were a detriment to the franchise. Some only for a short period of time, while others left an eternal mark. Check out which players did just enough to avoid the list:

Daniel Thomas – 2nd-round (#62 overall)

A phenomenal running back in college, the Dolphins figured they identified a steal when they traded their 3rd (79th- overall), 5th (146th-overall) and 7th (217th-overall) round picks to move back into the 2nd-round and select Daniel Thomas.

Averaging 1425 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns his final two years at Kansas State, Thomas combined for just 1480 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns throughout his 4-year NFL career. His 3.6 yards per carry career average didn’t translate to the “downhill running back” he was intended to be, as Thomas didn’t have the strength to break through the defensive line, and he didn’t have the speed to outrun opposing linebackers and defensive ends.

Eventually released and brought back on two separate occasions, Thomas may be the final lesson the Miami Dolphins front office learned about the running back position and its evolution.

Koa Misi – 2nd-round (#40 overall)

On this list more for the all the jokes we can sling at the front office than his overall production, Koa Misi wasn’t a bad linebacker for the Dolphins….when healthy. Problem is, his health deteriorated relatively quickly, and after signing a contract extension in 2017, he was almost immediately placed on Injured Reserve due to his neck injury. This extension cost the Dolphins a chance at signing Zach Brown, who went on to have one of the best seasons for any linebacker that year.

Truth be told, Misi wasn’t a bad player for the Dolphins during his rookie contract. He signed his first extension in 2013 and did have three productive seasons from there. However, his production was never dominant, and outside of his rookie season where he seemed to do a little bit of everything (2 passes defended, 2 fumble recovers, 1 touchdown, 4.5 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss and 7 QB hits), Misi was simply an average linebacker.

Normally not one to be deemed a “bottom 5” draft pick, but relying on him those final two seasons turned a solid career sour.

If anything, Koa Misi’s production further exasperates just how bad these other players were – because none of them have a stat line that even hints at being productive, let alone worthwhile.

John Beck – 2nd-round (#40 overall)

The first of the merry bunch of 2nd-round quarterbacks Miami selected between 2007-2009, John Beck’s inefficiency is the reason we have the legendary Cleo Lemon to Greg Camarillo play we have today.

After losing the first 4 starts of his career with a 56.1% completion percentage, 559 yards (less than 150 yards per game), 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, Beck was replaced by Lemon in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens. It was the only game Miami won that season.

If anything, we can thank Beck for his aid in helping Miami tank. It should have set us up for the perfect rebuild, but instead, the Dolphins decided to select….

Jake Long – 1st-round (#1 overall)

It’s an understatement to say that this one set the franchise back a bit. In fact, you can argue that the Miami Dolphins have yet to recover from this draft. While selecting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers in 2006 is equally as bad (if not worse), Miami still had an opportunity to get themselves out of mediocre oblivion by selecting Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick in the draft. Instead, we got a potential hall of fame left tackle that broke down just as his medical report suggested.

Jake Long was an excellent left tackle for the first 4 years of his career, but injuries began to take a toll and the former #1-overall pick began to wear down.

Initially, you had a point if you said Miami made the right decision drafting Long. He was essentially a lock to go to the hall of fame, and you figured the team could find that quarterback at any other point during his career. Well that logic subsequently gave us John Beck, Chad Henne and Pat White in the 2nd-round of the draft – all in successive years (2007-2009). Also, unlike bonafide franchise left tackles like Joe Thomas or Jason Peters, Jake Long didn’t have a prominent and lengthy career, meaning Miami is yet again on the infinite loop of rebuilding.

Leonte Carroo – 3rd-round (#86 overall)

As if you needed to be reminded of the asinine value Miami gave up to trade up and acquire Leonte Carroo.

The Dolphins figured they were able to uncover a dominant receiver from Rutgers – a school not known to produce much NFL talent (Ray Rice is the most prominent player from that school) – and traded a 3rd, 4th and 6th round pick to move back into the 3rd-round and select Carroo.

I believe a player is worth the cost if you have conviction they’re the person you need, but you better make sure you’re selecting the right talent if you’re giving up more than double the value for the pick you’re acquiring. Carroo never paid off for Miami, and it was a mistake that cost them way too many additional resources. If the rest of the bottom-5 choices weren’t so bad, there’s a good chance Carroo would find himself here simply due to his cost.

When looking back at the Leonte Carroo trade, this quote from Chris Grier in 2016 stood out: “This is a guy who is a targeted player. A highly competitive kid who loves football.”

In fairness to Carroo, he did have 1 more receiving TD in 2018 after Aaron posted this GIF.

Eddie Moore – 2nd-round (#49 overall)

An unfortunate addition due to his health rather than his skill, Eddie Moore wasn’t able to take off with Miami after sustaining a season-ending injury in training camp his rookie season. Moore returned in 2004 and was underwhelming, starting just 3 games (active for 13) and recording 34 tackles with 1 tackle for a loss. An additional season-ending injury in 2005 spelled the end of Moore’s career, as the Tennessee linebacker never played another down in the NFL.

In the midst of having one of the best defenses of the early 21st-century (featuring Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, among other greats), a 2nd-round pick in the middle of the field could have elevated that defense to another level.

Dallas Thomas (2013) / Michael Egnew (2012) / Patrick Turner (2009) / Derek Hagan (2006) / Ben Kelly (2000)

A group of failed 3rd-round picks for Miami.

None of them cost the Dolphins more than the team’s 3rd-round pick in each respective season, so it’s hard to say that any of them deserve to be named in the Top-5. That said, each of these players were a detriment to the Dolphins during their tenure, requiring the team to use additional draft capital or spend on free agents to replace the mistake of drafting them.

  • Dallas Thomas was the poster boy to one of the worst offensive lines in Miami Dolphins history.
  • Michael Egnew was so out of place in the NFL, he was easily surpassed by the emergence of Charles Clay and the instant depth/production Dion Sims provided after being drafted in 2013.
  • Patrick Turner was outplayed by the receiver drafted one round after him (Brian Hartline) and just about everyone else on the team that training camp, leading to him being active for only 2 games and released the following offseason.
  • Derek Hagan was the sole surviving wide receiver after 2007 when Marty Booker was released, Chris Chambers was traded and Wes Welker was dealt the prior offseason
    • In 2008, your starting WRs were Ted Ginn Jr, Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo.
  • Ben Kelly was drafted as a defensive back and was active for 4 games over the span of two seasons…as a kick returner.

1) Jonathan Martin – 2nd-round (#42 overall)

There is just so much that encompasses this draft pick.

I don’t want this to seem like we’re make light of or poking fun at mental health issues, because that’s the last thing we want to infer, but everything about this draft pick was wrong – and it started before Miami even selected Andrew Luck‘s left tackle out of Stanford.

Jonathan Martin came into the NFL draft as some kind of black sheep on the offensive line. Extremely productive in college, the Dolphins thought they were able to draft their future right tackle to lineup alongside Jake Long.

The perfect example of a college player who isn’t built to be the best professional athlete, Martin was able to complete just 20 reps on the bench press during his Stanford Pro Day; an extremely low number for an offensive lineman. For comparisons sake, Jarvis Landry completed 12 bench press reps during his combine measurements.

However, his inconsistent/nonexistent production isn’t the reason Jonathan Martin is #1 on our list.

Martin is more famously known for the embarrassing “bullying scandal” that saw multiple people lose their jobs, multiple players leave the team, and the only remaining survivor being one of the main conspirators behind the bullying and one of Aaron Hernandez‘s best friends in college, Mike Pouncey.

In fitting Dolphins fashion, the team thought so highly of Pouncey that they subsequently named him team captain.

At this point, Jake Long has broken down, Miami has lost a really good left guard in Richie Incognito, their 2nd-round pick from 2012 is not only a bust, but a deterrent to the entire locker room, and the team is receiving the most attention it has since Marino retired.

Though the blame can be placed on Jeff Ireland‘s shoulders for drafting Martin, it’s hard to foresee Martin breaking down and causing such a ripple effect throughout the organization. Though we hope Martin is receiving the help he needs after threatening Richie Incognito, his former high school and others on Instagram last year, as Miami Dolphins fans, we’re still waiting to recover from an episode that has exasperated our offensive line ineptitude, and cemented the public’s perception of this organization as an embarrassment rather than a success.

Now that you’re done bringing all of this misery on to yourself, lighten up the mood as we head into the NFL draft and check out our top-5 best draft picks of the 21st-century here.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins

Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MotorSportWeek.com

This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.

A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.

While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.

City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”

Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.

Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.

With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.

To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.

Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:

This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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