Miami Dolphins Draft History: The 15 Biggest Draft Busts in Recent Team History
As April 28th nears and mock drafts flood Dolphins blogs around the web, excitement is starting to build around Miami as analysts predict which collegiate studs might plug the team's holes and lead the 'Fins to a Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins have fallen into an ugly trend as of late. Over the past two decades, Miami has become one of the more inefficient teams in the draft, despite the likes of Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson calling the shots.
Things have gotten particularly ugly over the past few years, but with another draft comes another chance at salvation, and another chance to makes us forget about the following 15 players.
#15 Patrick Turner, 3rd Round, 2009
Yes, Patrick Turner was a third-round pick, so some might not declare him a "draft bust." But then you consider that Turner was projected to go in the fifth round or later, and then spent only one transparent season with the Dolphins; he garners bust status.
Turner was an absolute stud coming out of high school, but only seemed to scratch the surface of his potential at USC, where he was largely considered a disappointment. Still, whatever Bill Parcells & Co. saw in Turner did not translate to the NFL. He was plagued by back injuries, slowed by attitude problems, and dressed for only a handful of games in 2009.
Turner started to make some noise in the 2010 preseason with a few big plays, but was eventually cut when a pair of undrafted free agents (Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace) beat him out for the final two wide receiver spots.
Who they could have drafted: Ladarius Webb, Deon Butler, Jerraud Powers
#14 Chad Henne, 2nd Round, 2008
Chad Henne deserves another chance to prove himself as a capable starter in the NFL, but for now, he cannot escape the bust label. The main reason everybody is so quick to label Henne as a bust is because of the outlandish expectations pinned on him prior to the 2010 season.
It was his first full season as a starter in the league and he was undoubtedly slowed by Dan Henning's scheme. Henne does not deserve much slack considering he was borderline horrible throughout much of the year, but he does deserves some.
Henne will be on the shortest of leashes in 2011, assuming he enters the season as the team's starter. If he continues his troubling digression, he will move to the top of this list.
Who they could have drafted: Earl Bennett, Jamaal Charles, Early Doucet, Steve Slaton, Jermichael Finley, Mario Manningham
#13 Randal Hill, 1st Round, 1991
Putting Randal Hill on this list might not make a whole lot of sense considering he played in only one game with the Miami Dolphins. But when a first round pick plays only one game with a team, he technically is a bust, right?
With Mark Clayton and Duper approaching the final stages of their illustrious careers, Don Shula used the team's 1991 first round pick on Miami Hurricanes star, Randal Hill. But after Week 1 of the '91 season, the Dolphins sent Hill to the Phoenix Cardinals in exchange for their 1992 first round pick.
That first round pick turned into Troy Vincent, and Hill enjoyed a very sub-par NFL career.
Who they could have drafted: Brett Favre, Ricky Watters, Aeneas Williams
#12 Phillip Merling, 2nd Round, 2008
Initially pinned a sure fire first-round pick, Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling suffered a sports hernia during the weeks leading up to the 2008 Draft. Merling slipped into the second round where the Dolphins scooped him up, figuring he would be the steal of the draft.
Three years later, with a little more production, we can safely say that Merling was not a steal. In fact, he has been a bust thus far. As of today, Merling's only shining moment came in the Dolphins' 2008 Week 17, playoff-clinching game against the Jets when he intercepted Brett Favre and returned it for a touchdown.
Since then, Merling enjoyed a half-decent 2009 season, but was charged with domestic abuse before the 2010 season, and registered only three tackles.
Who they could have drafted: Brandon Flowers, Jordy Nelson, Curtis Lofton, John Carlson, Tracy Porter, Eddie Royal, Matt Forte, DeSean Jackson, Calais Campbell, Ray Rice
#11 J.J. Johnson, 2nd Round, 1999
While the Dolphins continue their futile attempt to find Dan Marino's replacement, many forget the roughly 20-year stretch in which Miami failed to find a stable running back.
They shuffled through about 11 or 12 running backs before acquiring Ricky Williams. J.J. Johnson was one of the failed running back projects. Jimmy Johnson selected the former Mississippi State star with a second-round pick in 1999, but J.J. never caught on.
After leading the team in rushing yards with just 558 his rookie season, Johnson essentially vanished upon the departure of Jimmy Johnson and the arrival of Dave Wannstedt and running back Lamar Smith. Johnson was out of the league after just three seasons.
Who they could have drafted: Dre Bly, Jim Kleinsasser, Kevin Faulk, Joey Porter, Marty Booker
#10 Eddie Moore, 2nd Round, 2003
Even after boasting the league's fifth best rushing defense in 2002, Dave Wannstedt used the team's first draft pick on Tennessee linebacker Eddie Moore.
And, well, that is about all there is to say about Eddie Moore. He did not play until 2004, and registered just 18 tackles that season. Moore played in five games in 2005, but his lack of production had him out of Miami after the season. He has not played in an NFL game since.
Who they could have drafted: Anquan Boldin, Osi Umenyiora, Lance Briggs, Jason Witten
#9 Jamar Fletcher, 1st Round, 2001
Despite Miami's desperate need for a young, explosive wide receiver to aid Jay Fiedler, Dave Wannstedt passed on Miami Hurricanes stud Reggie Wayne for cornerback Jamar Fletcher. The pick made almost no sense considering Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain were at their peaks, and the Dolphins' secondary ranked in the top five the season before.
Fletcher spent three years with the Dolphins, starting a combined six games and intercepting just two passes. Miami parted with Fletcher after the 2003 season, and he spent time with four different teams before retiring after 2008.
Who they could have drafted: Reggie Wayne, Todd Heap, Drew Brees, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Alge Crumpler, Chad Ochocinco, Kris Jenkins, Matt Light
#8 John Beck, 2nd Round, 2007
After famously passing on Brady Quinn for Ted Ginn, Jr. (in retrospect, not a horrible decision), Dolphins rookie head coach Cam Cameron used a second-round pick on BYU standout John Beck. Beck starred in the college ranks. The 26 year-old failed to translate any of that skill to the next level.
Age aside, Beck had inadequate arm strength and showed little potential during his five starts with the 'Fins. Granted, he had a pretty terrible supporting cast, Beck was shipped off when Bill Parcells arrived and cleaned house. He has since become an NFL journeyman, settling into a role as a reserve quarterback.
Who they could have drafted: Sidney Rice, LaMarr Woodley, David Harris, Steve Smith (Giants)
#7 Sammie Smith, 1st Round, 1989
From 1983 to 1988, five different running backs led the Miami Dolphins in rushing yards. Looking to escape this troubling pattern and install a stud of a running back behind Dan Marino, Don Shula selected Florida State standout Sammie Smith with the team's 1989 first round pick.
Smith led the team in rushing in 1989 and 1990, but was ultimately a failure. He spent just three semi-productive years with the team, and was out of league after 1992.
Who they could have drafted: Trace Armstrong (got him during his prime anyway), Steve Atwater, Andre Rison
#6 Pat White, 2nd Round, 2009
At a slim 6'0", 190 pounds, nobody really knew what to make of Pat White as the 2009 Draft approached. White said he would only play quarterback in the NFL, and his supporters reminded everybody that "the dude is a winner." It is the same thing we have heard about countless busts in the past.
The Dolphins shocked the league when they drafted White early in the second round with Chad Henne and Pennington already on their roster. Nobody knew how White would integrate in Miami's offense, and quite frankly, the Dolphins never figured it out either.
They created some "WildPat" packages for him, and although he actually had a handful of great plays, the cons far outweighed the pros, and White is now in the Kansas City Royals farm system. In retrospect, it is hard to see what the Dolphins were thinking. White was undersized, had minimal arm strength and accuracy, and played in a spread offense at West Virginia.
Who they could have drafted: LeSean McCoy, Phil Loadholt, Clint Sintim, Mohamed Massaquoi, William Beatty
#5 John Avery, 1st Round, 1998
At different junctures throughout Dan Marino's career, the Dolphins were always lacking one key position that was keeping them from reaching a Super Bowl. When the offense was at its peak, the defense lagged behind, and when the 'Fins lacked a workhorse running back or a stud wide receiver, the defense was elite. The stars just never aligned for Dan.
For much of the 90's, the Dolphins could not find a running back. They shuffled through Mark Higgs, Bernie Parmalee, and Karim Abdul-Jabbar, before using a first round pick on Ole Miss running back John Avery. He spent just one and half seasons in Miami before Jimmy Johnson traded him in 1999.
Who they could have drafted: Believe it or not, there were not many superior alternatives. Corey Chavous and Flozell Adams were the only notable players drafted after Avery, and the Dolphins selected Patrick Surtain in that second round.
#4 Jason Allen, 1st Round, 2006
With the 16th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Nick Saban selected Tennessee Volunteers safety Jason Allen to anchor a young secondary transitioning out of the Sam Madison/ Patrick Surtain era. Allen's tenure with the Dolphins immediately got off to a rocky start. He was the last first-round pick to sign a contract, and he continually failed to establish himself as an NFL-caliber safety or cornerback despite numerous chances.
As each year passed, Allen slipped further and further down the depth chart, eventually settling into a role as an ace special teams player. Oddly enough, he seemed to have found his stride during the early portions of the 2010 season, but was cut after Week 9, ending a disappointing four and a half year stay in Miami.
Who they could have drafted: Chad Greenway, Antonio Cromartie, Tamba Hali, Laurence Maroney, Manny Lawson, Davin Joseph, Johnathan Joseph, Santonio Holmes, DeAngelo Williams, Mercedes Lewis, Nick Mangold, Joseph Addai, Mathias Kiwanuka, DeMeco Ryans, Roman Harper, Marcus McNeill, Greg Jennings, Devin Hester, Maurice Jones-Drew
#3 Eric Kumerow, 1st Round, 1988
In the coming weeks of draft talk and preparation, you are going to hear plenty of "the draft is ultimately a total crap-shoot." While that is technically true, that school of thought is not as valid today as it was in decades past.
For example, the first round of the 1988 Draft churned out roughly six or so high quality players. The first round of the 2008 NFL Draft has produced roughly 17 high quality players. Anyway, the Dolphins fell victim to that gamble in 1988 when they drafted Ohio State defensive end Eric Kumerow.
Kumerow played three seasons with Miami (his only in league) and never started a game.
Who they could have drafted: Randall McDaniel, Thurman Thomas, Ken Norton (Yup, they passed on two future Hall of Famers)
#2 Yatil Green, 1st Round, 1997
Looking to add a spark to a lackluster wide receiving corps, draft guru Jimmy Johnson selected former Miami Hurricane Yatil Green with his first draft pick as Dolphins head coach.
Green started one game and was out of the NFL after one season. Fortunately, Johnson proceeded to draft Sam Madison, Jason Taylor, and Derrick Rodgers later in the '97 Draft, making up for his miscue.
Who they could have drafted: Tarik Glenn, Antowain Smith, Rae Carruth (just kidding), Trevor Pryce, Chris Canty, Jamie Sharper, Tiki Barber, Jake Plummer, Corey Dillon
#1 Ted Ginn, Jr., 1st Round, 2007
As a personal rule of thumb, I generally do not like to use first person language when I write here at Bleacher Report. But when Ted Ginn is the subject, I make exceptions. I do not need to tell the tale of Ted Ginn, Jr. "and his family," because I fear making readers nauseous.
Ginn has become such a sore subject because I was a huge supporter of his. When he was drafted, I assumed he would bring unstoppable speed and a deadly return-man to a team lacking both. And after a forgettable rookie season, Ginn actually made huge progress in 2008 (which everybody forgets). He basically doubled his production, reeling in 56 receptions for 790 yards.
But then, in 2009, Ginn inexplicably fell off the map. His numbers reflected those of his rookie season, and rather than continue that promising progress he showed in '08, he regressed, dropped countless passes and failed to connect with Chad Henne (although Ted Ginn did burn Darrelle Revis for a TD in 2009, something no elite receiver managed to do). Cover your eyes when reading the list below.
Who they could have drafted: PATRICK WILLIS, Marshawn Lynch, DARRELLE REVIS, Lawrence Timmons, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Meriweather, Jon Beason, Joe Staley, Ben Grubbs, Greg Olsen, Paul Posluszny. Ouch.