No. 1 Priority

The Dolphins have gotten off to a good start signing their draft choices, with four of 10 already under contract as we approach the last week of June. Getting draft picks signed, however, isn't considered a major deal because it's usually a formality, except when it comes to the No. 1 pick. And that's where the Dolphins have been hurt the last two years.

The Dolphins began training camp each of the last two years without their first-round pick, Ronnie Brown in 2005 and Jason Allen in 2006.

As a result, Brown got off to a very slow start as a rookie before coming on and playing well, and Allen struggled his entire rookie season.

The common denominator there was that Nick Saban was the head coach in both of those seasons, so there's hope that maybe a new coaching staff will bring new results when it comes to getting the first-round pick into camp on time.

One thing is for sure, the Dolphins need a big contribution from first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. right from the start.

It actually won't be as big a deal if John Beck misses part of camp in a contract dispute because he's not expected to get any kind of playing time in the early part of his rookie season.

That's clearly not the case with Ginn. He said the draft after being picked ninth overall by the Dolphins that there was no way he would miss the start of camp because of contract issues, and he did seem like he meant it, but we all know how those things go.

The reality is that the players drafted right before (Jamaal Anderson) and right after him (Amobi Okoye) get out-of-the-ordinary contracts, it might affect the negotiations with Ginn.

And then we might have problems.

Nobody really wants that, though.

Just ask Jason Allen about the effects of missing the first couple of weeks of training camp and how badly that set him back -- of course, Saban jerking him around from safety to cornerback back to safety didn't help, either.

The damage probably wouldn't be as great when it comes to Ginn, especially as a returner, because that job description demands athleticism above knowledge. But Ginn's ability to contribute early as a wideout clearly would be compromised if he were to miss time at training camp.

Of course, there's the issue of Ginn's injured foot, which conceivably could cause him to miss the start of camp. But even if that happens, Ginn still could get valuable learning time without practicing just by being around. And that's now allowed if he's not under contract.

So while we continue for the Trent Green trade to finally, mercifully get done, let's also keep our eye on the contract negotiations that will play out between the Dolphins and Ginn's representatives.

And let's hope it's not nearly as painful as dealing with the Chiefs.


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