The Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland-Tony Sparano Era began in late 2007 and saw an outstanding draft for the Miami Dolphins in 2008.
Nearly every player chosen in the seven rounds is still with the team, and most of them contributed in solid fashion to the 2008 AFC East Champion team, especially tackle Jake Long (round one) and defensive ends Kendall Langford (round three) and Philip Merling (round two).
To boot, Chad Henne (round two) will be their quarterback of the future, and Donald Thomas (round six) was the starter at guard until a season-ending injury in the preseason sidelined him.
And they made draft deals that sent a fourth-rounder for Anthony Fasano and Akin Ayodele, and a sixth rounder for Jason Ferguson. I call it thievery!
But until this group of rookies—and that also includes undrafted talents wideout Davone Bess and kicker Dan Carpenter—can prove itself by helping the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl, I can't really call the '08 class the best in Miami history.
The NFL.com web site considers the Class of 1983 the best Dolphin class ever. Undoubtedly, Hall of Famer Dan Marino one of the greatest draft steals of all time.
He lasted too long in the first round. then, the Steelers, drafting right before Miami that year, were "supposed to draft" the University of Pittsburgh Heisman winner.
They say it was because Pittsburgh owner Rooney wouldn't see him drafted that the team was unable to keep up their dynastic ways in the '80s.
The '83 class also included punter Reggie Roby, Mark Clayton of "Marks Brothers" fame, Mike Charles, and Charles Benson. All of these folks started for the 'Fins in their Supe XVIII loss to the 49ers and in that game which saw the Dolphins end the Chiacgo Bears' unbeaten streak one an awesome Monday night.
Actually, that whole 1985 team was made up of players primarily drafted between 1976 and 1982 and included the "Killer B's" Kim Bokamper (1976), Bob Baumhower (1977), Doug Betters (1978), Glenn Blackwood (1979), and Bill Barnett (1980), plus A.J. Guhe.
But despite all these accolades for '83, in my opinion the greatest Dolphin draft class ever was selected in 1970.
"Class" isn't even the word for it. Here's the breakdown:
Miami had the second overall pick. They had just gotten Don Shula from the Colts (for which they'd give up their 1971 No. 1) and had a good young quarterback in Bob Griese, but they had no great receivers.
So they traded their first to the Cleveland Browns, who needed a quarterback, and got wideout Paul Warfield.
Miami took tight end Jim Mandich, who became a pass-catching threat.
The Dolphins went with cornerback Tim Foley, who still holds the NFL record for most TD from blocked punts in a game, set in 1973 against the Colts.
The 'Fins got their other starting CB, Curtis Johnson.
This pick went to the Boston/New England Patriots for Nick Buoniconti, who is now in the Hall of Fame. He helped make two other '70 linebacker rookies, Mike Kolen and Doug Swift, into savage hitters.
Perennial All-Pro Free safety Jake Scott, who was the MVP of Super Bowl VII, came courtesy of this selection. He and 1968 third rounder Dick Anderson created one of the best safety duos ever.
Linebacker Mike Kolen was taken.
And let's not forget free agent walk-ons Doug Swift, undrafted from the CFL; Kicker Garo Yepremian; and All-Pro, Hall of Fame guard Bob Keuchenberg, from the minor leagues.
Take a look, and it's obvious: The 1970 rookie class combined with the trades that resulted produced about one-fourth of the team that went undefeated in 1972 and won Super Bowls VII and VIII.
So, which is better for you, the 1970 or 1983 Class?