Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fins Picks: Decade in Review (Part III)

March 4, 2010

In the final segment of our Fins Picks series, we review the 2006 through 2009 offseasons in an effort to define the successes and failures that the Dolphins have experienced in previous drafts. In our first two segments we covered the 2000-2002 and 2003-2005 draft selections, finding mostly disappointing results with a few diamonds in the rough. Here we see a clear shift towards progress with the emergence of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano, formally known as The Trifecta.

Year: 2006

  • 1st Round - Jason Allen, S, Tennessee
  • 2nd Round - Traded to Minnesota Vikings for QB Daunte Culpepper
  • 3rd Round - Derek Hagan, WR, Arizona State
  • 4th Round - Joe Toledo, T, Washington
  • 5th Round - Exercised in 2005 supplemental draft
  • 6th Round - Traded to San Diego Chargers in Cleo Lemon-A.J. Feeley trade
  • 7th Round (a) - Frederick Evans, DT, Texas State
  • 7th Round (b) - Rodrique Wright, DT, Texas
  • 7th Round (c) - Devin Aromashodu, WR, Auburn

    If there ever was a draft that epitomized disaster in Dolphins history, this would be it. Whether it can be attributed to the turmoil in the front office (shifting from Nick Saban to Cam Cameron) or just poor evaluation of draft talent, there is plenty of factors to take into account. To their credit, Jason Allen is still currently on Miami's roster, but is a second- or third-tier DB on the team. The Daunte Culpepper experiment failed for a variety of reasons and Derek Hagan was what Ted Ginn Jr. is now. In essence, a very poor draft and easily the worst one in the decade for the Dolphins.


    Not much to be proud about here for Miami. The only excuse for such a draft was the instability within the front office after Nick Saban's resignation. As some DolFans would say, "blame it on Saban."  Grade: F

    Year: 2007

    • 1st Round (a) - Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
    • 2nd Round (a) - John Beck, QB, Brigham Young
    • 2nd Round (b) - Samson Satele, C/G, Hawaii
    • 3rd Round - Lorenzo Booker, RB, Florida State
    • 4th Round - Paul Soliai, DT, Utah
    • 5th Round - Traded to Detroit Lions for QB Joey Harrington
    • 6th Round (a) - Reagan Mauia, FB, Hawaii
    • 6th Round (b) - Drew Mormino, C, Central Michigan
    • 7th Round (a) - Kelvin Smith, LB, Syracuse
    • 7th Round (b) - Brandon Fields, P, Michigan State
    • 7th Round (c) - Abraham Wright, LB, Colorado

    With Cam Cameron at the helm of the Miami Dolphins, he was tasked with the challenge of rebuilding a franchise. Unfortunately, selecting Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth pick overall was already a step in the wrong direction. His speed and agility may have seemed like lucrative characteristics, but toughness and discipline were, as Borat would say, "not so much." Beyond drafting "Ted Ginn and his family," the rest of the talent pool selected was with good intentions, but poor execution. With seven out of the ten draftees no longer on the team, it is clear that very little was accomplished in the '07 draft. At least Paul Soliai and Brandon Fields are consistently decent at their positions today. The rest just fades to black. 


    Perhaps another poor draft due to the administrative transition that the Dolphins were going through. And while Miami finished 1-15 for the season, it was likely due to the '06 draft more than anything. Grade: D 
    Year: 2008

    • 1st Round - Jake Long, T, Michigan
    • 2nd Round (a) - Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
    • 2nd Round (b) - Chad Henne, QB, Michigan
    • 3rd Round (a) - Traded to Detroit Lions in draft trade-down
    • 3rd Round (b) - Kendall Langford, DE, Hampton
    • 4th Round (a) - Traded to Dallas Cowboys for LB Akin Ayodele and TE Anthony Fasano
    • 4th Round (b) - Shawn Murphy, G, Utah State
    • 4th Round (c) - Traded to Chicago Bears in draft trade-up
    • 5th Round - Traded to Kansas City for QB Trent Green
    • 6th Round (a) - Traded to Dallas Cowboys in DT Jason Ferguson trade
    • 6th Round (b) - Jalen Parmele, RB, Toledo
    • 6th Round (c) - Donald Thomas, G, Connecticut
    • 6th Round (d) - Lex Hilliard, RB, Montana 
    • 7th Round (a) - Traded to Chicago Bears in draft trade-up
    • 7th Round (b) - Lionel Dotson, DE, Arizona


    With the entrance of the Big Tuna and his possee, the Trifecta was formed and immediate changes were instated beginning with the draft. Jake Long was the best tackle in his class and exhibited skills of a top-notch O-Lineman in the NFL. Two Pro Bowl appearances later, expectations were met early. In the ensuing picks, the Dolphins attempted to address  a variety of positions, including defensive line, quartberback and offensive line. And for the most part they were successful. Chad Henne became a starter in '09 and filled in well for Chad Pennington. Phillip Merling, Kendall Langford and Donald Thomas have all stepped up to the plate and contributed at their respective positions. Only Shawn Murphy and Jalen Parmele are not on Miami's roster today. The rest have considerable value to the franchise.


    Six of the players drafted in this pool had significant impacts in 2009. Thus, the '08 draft was effective in its efforts to fill voids and sure up key positions. Merling and Langford had instant success in '08 and were an intricate part of Miami's AFC East Championship run. The self-dubbed  "New Begining" was in effect. Grade: A

    Year: 2009

    • 1st Round - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
    • 2nd Round (a) - Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia
    • 2nd Round (b) - Traded to Indianapolis Colts in draft trade-down
    • 2rd Round (c) - Sean Smith, CB, Utah
    • 3rd Round - Patrick Turner, WR,USC
    • 4th Round (a) - Brian Hartline, WR,Ohio State
    • 4th Round (b) - Traded to Oakland Raiders in C Samson Satele trade
    • 5th Round (a) - John Nalbone, TE, Monmouth
    • 5th Round (b) - Chris Clemons, S, Clemson
    • 6th Round (a) - Andrew Gardner, T, Georgia Tech
    • 6th Round (b) - Traded to Dallas Cowboys for NT Jason Ferguson 
    • 7th Round (a) - J.D. Folsom, LB, Weber State
    • 7th Round (b) - Traded to Jacksonville Jaguars for DE Tony McDaniel
    • 7th Round (c) - Traded to Kansas City Chiefs in draft trade-down

    In their second year in charge, the Trifecta had a many hits and a few misses. Taking perhaps the two best cornerbacks in the draft, the Dolphins had the clear objective of improving their secondary for the long-term. Placing two rookies at the corners came with the expectations of mistakes and required development, but nonetheless both Davis and Smith revealed flashes of their great potential. The misses came in the Pat White and Patrick Turner selections that drew mixed reactions. White was thrown into the Wildcat as another gimmick, but failed to produce in the greater scheme of the season. Turner never touched the field in '09 and thus is either a serious work in progress or an inevitable bust. On the positive side, Brian Hartline made up for Turner's disappearance. Not to mention, Chris Clemons and Andrew Gardner both had some playing  time in '09 and filled in fairly well for their predecessors.


    More upside than down in this draft. Key positions were addressed and talent was salvaged deep into the draft. If Miami's young corners build off their '09 season and improve, the Dolphins will have a rock solid foundation in their secondary. Hartline's emergence was both surprising and impressive as he added depth to the wide receiving core. Beyond the poor showings by White and Turner, this draft class contained strong selections that immediately contributed to the '09 Dolphins roster.  Grade: B
    * * *
    Final Word

    The last decade in Dolphins history has been one mixed with frustration and promise, particularly in the draft. In retrospect, there were plenty of poor choices early on in the millennium with a sprinkle of gems in between. An elite NFL team is built from the ground up and the Dolphins missed that memo through the first three quarters of the 2000s.

    It was the Atlanta Falcons' loss that was Miami's gain in Bill Parcells, which changed the landscape and philosophy of the Dolphins organization. Instantly, fans saw how talent could be excavated from even the deepest rounds in a draft. If there's anything that Parcells knows how to do it's evaluate talent. And that's what Miami received when he took the job.

    Now Miami has an opportunity to continue their recent draft success and build upon the solid foundation that already has been laid. While many positions are in need of improvement, every team is an offseason or two away from transitioning from mediocrity to elite status. The Dolphins are halfway there.

    The 2010 draft will be the next chapter in this ongoing story for Miami and The Trifecta. Seemingly one of the best draft classes since 1983, 2010 could have plenty in store for the Fins and their journey towards the promised land. This will be the deciding season where the Dolphins either catapult into the top-tier or regress into sub-par status. And it all starts with the draft.   

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