Miami Dolphins' 10 All-Time Best Third-Round Draft Choices

Robert MaloneContributor IIIApril 16, 2012

Miami Dolphins' 10 All-Time Best Third-Round Draft Choices

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    In honor of the trade that sent Brandon Marshall away for two third-round draft selections and with the 2012 NFL draft looming, it only seems appropriate to look at the Dolphins' all-time best third-round choices.

    Prior to the 2000s, the Dolphins had great luck finding meaningful talent throughout the draft. Long-standing coaching eras brought stability to the roster with important role players and hidden gems turned stars.

    Taking into consideration on-the-field performances, off-the-field efforts, post-football careers and pure entertainment value, these are the Dolphins' top 10 all-time best third-round draft picks.

Honorable Mentions

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    If you're a traditionalist who strictly considers impact on the field, Ronnie Lee should definitely be in the top 10.  

    At tackle, guard or even a tight end, he was a versatile piece on Miami's offensive line for 11 years.  

    Ferrell Edmunds also earns a mention here for impacting the Dolphins in only five years as a tight end.  He made it to two Pro Bowls and ranks 27th in team receiving yards.  

Channing Crowder

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    Pick: He was 70th overall in 2005.

    This is purely an off-the-field, entertainment-value pick.  

    No player in Miami's recent history had more entertaining things to say than Crowder.  

    London, anyone?  

    How about the spitting incident?

    Crowder always created talked-about entertainment with his words rather than his play. You never really knew what he was going to say next.  

    His on-the-field production was about what you'd expect from a third-round draft section.  It was average.  

    Other linebackers on the team were always out-producing him, and he was just serviceable on a team, filtering through the always-changing coaching eras. (Ultimately, he'd be filtered out too.) 

    Since his years with the Dolphins were the organization's most forgettable ones, he never played in anything worth gloating about.  

    His most relevant game with the Dolphins was the historic game in London, which marked the first time an NFL game was played outside of North America.  

    It's also the game that sparked Crowder's famous, previously-referenced rant on the subject. His quote could become even more referenced if the NFL expansion does eventually head to Europe, which will haunt this team for years. 

Abdul-Karim AL-Jabbar

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    Pick: He was 80th overall in 1996.

    Okay, admitted, Crowder was a silly pick, but, all joking aside, al-Jabbar deserves to be here.

    In less than four years, Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar made his presence felt with this organization. His first year gave the Dolphins and their fans hope Dan Marino would finally get the run game needed to put this offense over the top.  

    In his rookie season, he rushed for well over a 1,000 yards and helped this offense boost the team's rush average from 94 yards-per-game in 1995 to 101 in 1996.  

    In 1997, he and Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos led the league in rushing touchdowns with 15.  

    Unfortunately for Miami, his presence became less apparent after that, and the team would eventually trade him away.

    This third-round draft pick spent less than four seasons with the Dolphins and still managed to leave an imprint on this historic franchise.  

    He ranks top 15 all time in team scoring and is top 10 all time in team rushing.   

Tim Foley

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    Pick: He was 55th overall in 1970.

    Foley played cornerback for Miami during the years of the "No-Name Defense" in the early 1970s.  

    Like most guys in that unit and as the nickname suggests, this third-round pick wasn't a highlighted name on the defense, but he played a vital role in the team's success.

    Foley's numbers don't exactly indicate great value or ability.  They're more the result of a system that let him gamble more and sometimes miss out on the solid, safe play.  

    During his years at corner in the early 1970s, he helped this team to three Super Bowl appearances, which includes two wins and an undefeated season.  

    His later years saw a boost in his stats, when he moved to the safety position.  The same system that turned Jake Scott and Dick Anderson into a presence started having the same result for him, and after the change, he would go to his one and only Pro Bowl in 1979.

Duriel Harris

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    Pick: He was 80th overall in 1976.

    Harris was one of many receiver options for the Dolphins through the late 70s and early 80s.

    Throughout most of this era, the Dolphins were a run-heavy team with a pecking order at receiver, so his stats suffered quite a bit.  

    His role in the pass attack was as the deep threat.  He would often help stretch the field and open things up underneath for players like Tony Nathan and others.

    Regardless, Harris made himself plenty useful in the passing game next to the likes of Nat Moore and Mark Duper. This third-round pick managed to climb into Miami's top 10 in receptions and receiving yards.

    He was also an important piece to one of the Dolphins' most historic plays, as he was the "hook" that made the "lateral" in the famous play of the 1982 AFC divisional game.  

Jimmy Cefalo

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    Pick: He was 81st overall in 1978.

    Cefalo wasn't the go-to wide receiver in his years with the Dolphins, and he only led the team in receiving yards once in 1982. He finished with 356 yards (not a great passing offense that year).  

    He was good at getting a bulk of yards with his receptions and ranks second all time in team yards-per-reception for Miami receivers with over 1,000 career yards.

    Cefalo's recognition also extends off the field (maybe even more so).  

    The former third-round selection became a big presence in sportscasting after leaving the NFL. He has been awarded handsomely for his work, which included coverage of the 1988 summer Olympics.  

    His broadcasting experience eventually brought him back to Miami, where he is now the radio play-by-play voice of the team and a radio personality in South Florida.

Mercury Morris

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    Pick: He was 63rd overall in 1969.

    Before becoming the recent face of the undefeated season,  Morris was a running back and special teams player for the Dolphins throughout the 1970s.  

    He was a major contributor to Miami's special teams, especially early in his career.  For Miami, he presently ranks third in kick return yards and is the only player to score three-plus touchdowns on kick returns.

    In his seven years with the Dolphins, this third-round pick also accumulated enough yards to rank fourth among Miami's rushing leaders.  

    Morris spent much of his time in Miami playing behind Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick, but despite that, he still managed to get to three Pro Bowls.  

    In 1972, he and Csonka made history by being the first rushing duo on the same team to each gain 1,000-plus yards in the same season.  Miami's rush offense was first in the league that year and was an essential piece to their undefeated season. 

Tony Nathan

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    Pick: He was 61st overall in 1979.

    Nathan was a dynamic running back for the Dolphins through the 1980s.  

    This third-rounder was particularly dangerous in the passing game and actually has more career receiving yards than rushing.

    For Miami, the nine-year running back ranks sixth all-time in team rushing yards and seventh all-time in team receiving yards.  He also played in two Super Bowls and was instrumental in Miami's AFC Championship wins in the 1980s.

    Nathan was on the receiving end of the previously mentioned "hook and lateral play."  Harris (like previously mentioned) made the lateral, and Nathan made the play that turned this game into one of the best in Dolphins' history.  

    His total stat line for that game was 169 yards and two touchdowns.

Nat Moore

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    Pick: He was 78th overall in 1974.

    Before the "Marks Brothers," there was Nat Moore.  

    Moore played with the Dolphins for 13 years and was a major contributor in Miami's run through the 1970s and 1980s.  

    He set the bar for fellow teammates Mark Duper and Mark Clayton and still sits among the top in team records.

    For the Dolphins, he still ranks third in receptions, third in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.  

    In his rookie season, Moore managed to lead the team in receiving yards and would proceed to hold the honor four times over the next five years.

    During his Pro Bowl season in 1977, this third-round pick managed to lead the league in receiving touchdowns.

Jason Taylor

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    Pick: He was 73rd overall in 1997.

    Jason Taylor has been one of the iconic faces of Miami sports for more than a decade.  

    In his 13 years with the Dolphins, he's become a heavily decorated player.

    He's been to six Pro Bowls, has the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award (and two AFC Defensive Player of the Year awards), and is sixth all-time in sacks in the NFL. 

    He's also among the top in Miami's defensive stats, including first in forced fumbles, first in defensive touchdowns and is the only Dolphins' player to record two safeties.

    In his presence, Miami was consistently one of the best pass rushing teams throughout the 2000s, often among the top five in the NFL.

    His career with Miami is only slightly stained by a lack of playoff appearances, which was an unfortunate side effect of inadequate offense and a flux of coaching eras.  

    If he'd only had a few more relevant games, he'd clearly be the best third-round draft pick in team history. He also betrayed the team by spending a year in New York with the Jets.

    And if we're going to talk off-the-field accomplishments, Taylor has been consistently acknowledged and awarded for his charity work.

Dick Anderson

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    Pick: He was 73rd overall in 1968.

    Anderson spent 10 memorable, historically-relevant years with the Miami Dolphins, and this third-round draft pick managed to be a key player on one of the NFL's best defenses—the "No-Name Defense." 

    Anderson played safety in a defensive system that was predicated on teamwork and support.

    As a safety, he and Jake Scott became the ultimate safety net for cornerbacks and were allowed to be bolder with their playing style.

    In his 10 years, Anderson left his stamp on the organization. He has the second most career interceptions in Miami history, has been to three Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl champion twice in 1973 and 1974.

    He's also responsible for one of the Dolphins' most historic wins—the 1971 AFC Championship Game.  

    In that game, Anderson had three interceptions, which included a 62-yard return for a touchdown and helped shutout the Baltimore Colts, sending Miami to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.