When it comes to the NFL Draft there is no such thing as a sure thing, something Miami Dolphins brass over the years knows too well.
A similar case can be made for any draft in the four main professional sports leagues but none has more of a boom-or-bust feel than the one held in the NFL. Some general managers may have a little bit of a better eye for talent than others but largely it’s a game of darts being thrown by blind men.
The common denominator among all “good drafting teams” (like the Patriots, Packers, and Packers) is each has a franchise quarterback, increasing their margin for error when it comes to everything, including drafting.
The Pats may not necessarily draft significantly better than the Dolphins but their approach is more prudent. Drafting one of the best QBs of all time in the sixth round in is pure luck but they’ve made a trend of trading back over the years in an effort to stockpile picks, giving them more darts to throw.
Then you have teams like Miami who have made a common theme of trading up despite the great unknown, packaging picks to move up for eventual busts like Daniel Thomas and Dion Jordan, and another potential one in Leonte Carroo, a player they acquired after moving up last year at the cost of two mid-round picks this year.
So with the NFL Combine here and the NFL Draft approaching, I thought it could be fun (and painful) to re-draft for the Dolphins in every first round dating back to 2007.
This column isn’t designed to make you depressed but wander into fantasy land to reveal what could have been. This is somewhat of a cumulative exercise. Imagine being the Dolphins GM with a time machine in your arsenal. However, you can only travel back to just before the Dolphins’ first pick is announced and cannot alter any other picks.
Hop in the DeLorean.
2007 (No. 9 overall)
Actual pick: Ted Ginn
New pick: Darrelle Revis
One of the worst first-round picks in franchise history, what’s incredible is Ginn (an alleged receiver) is one of just three players taken in the top 13 who are still in the NFL. Future stars taken behind Miami in the first round outside of Revis (No. 14) were plentiful: Patrick Willis (No. 11) Reggie Nelson (No. 21), Joe Staley (No. 28), Jon Beason (No. 25), and Greg Olsen (No. 31) were among them.
I’ll go with the four-time First-Team All Pro corner because Miami’s starting corners that year were Will Allen and Michael Lehan, and this move also hurts the rival Jets.
2008 (No. 1 overall)
Actual pick: Jake Long
Matt Ryan Aqib Talib
Yes, I’m passing on Matty Ice despite having the foresight of what he will become. Why? I still don’t think Ryan is a truly elite passer and his sudden jump last season was more reflective of the increased talent around him and the system. He’s similar to Tannehill.
Besides, we’ll get our franchise QB a few picks later…
2009 (No. 25)
Actual pick: Vontae Davis
New pick: Clay Matthews
How Dolphins is it that one of their better first-round picks didn’t blossom until after leaving Miami. While Davis has become a Pro Bowl player for the Colts, I’m going to nab an elite pass rusher here in Matthews, who was taken one pick later.
That pass-rushing trio of Jason Taylor, Matthews, and Cam Wake will be FIERCE.
2010 (No. 28)
Actual pick: Jared Odrick
New pick: Antonio Brown
Sure, Dez Bryant (taken 24th) is also tempting but remember I can only travel back in time to the day of the draft, deeming it impossible to stop Jeff Ireland from calling Dez’s mother a whore.
Rob Gronkowski (taken 42nd) is also available but if he gets drafted in Miami there’s a high-percentage chance he refuses to leave South Beach (despite what ESPN tells you, the Dolphins don’t play on South Beach), with his diet consisting of nothing but vodka and Red Bull with a splash of molly.
Let’s go with Brown, a local product, and 2016’s most electric receiver.
2011 (No. 15)
Actual pick: Mike Pouncey
New pick: Richard Sherman
This one’s too easy. We’re going to pair Richard Sherman (taken 154th) with Revis, giving the Dolphins the most dynamic cornerback tandem in NFL history.
2012 (No. 8 overall)
Actual pick: Ryan Tannehill
New pick: Russell Wilson
The funny thing is, in hindsight, the only player I’d probably take over Tannehill here is Wilson, who may not be as big and strong but certainly has a better feel for the game.
2013 (No. 3 overall)
Actual pick: Dion fucking Jordan
New pick: Le’Veon Bell
There are two orders of business while traveling back to 2013:
1. Stop Dallas Thomas
I know I’m only supposed to be altering the first round but this will be a one-time exception. Before making the Bell pick I travel to Dallas Thomas’ home and stealthily plant five kilos of cocaine in his bedroom before calling the local authorities with an anonymous tip. Therefore he will never be drafted in the third round by Miami.
He probably still ends up in Dallas though.
This will save Dolphins fans — and quarterbacks, coaches, and media– from years of unnecessary pain and heavy drinking. It will also save some marriages because God knows how many fights occurred on the heels of a Dolphins loss after one of Dallas Thomas’ routine meltdowns.
2. Draft Le’Veon Bell
I don’t like taking running backs in the first two rounds as it’s terrible value for a position that’s more replaceable than Michael Rapaport in any Michael Rapaport movie, but Le’Veon (taken 48th) is a rare breed capable of dominating a game.
2014 (No. 19)
Actual pick: Ja’Wuan James
New pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Not only can I have Clinton-Dix on the back of my Dolphins jersey but he’s graded out among the better safeties by Pro Football Focus over the last couple years.
2015 (No. 14)
Actual pick: DeVante Parker
New pick: Marcus Peters
We still don’t know how good DeVante is yet but the same cannot be said for cornerback Marcus Peters, who was an All-Pro in each of his first two seasons. Plus, we know Revis left the Jets in 2013 and could do the same thing to the Dolphins.
2016 (No. 13)
Actual pick: Laremy Tunsil
New pick: Laremy Tunsil
They got one right? They got one right!