More Bad Timing

The Dolphins' problems of recent years have been well documented, and most of them have been self-inflicted. But the reality is Miami also has been the victim of bad luck when it comes to the draft. More specifically, the Dolphins have picked bad years to be really, really bad, and the 2007 season was just another example.

This is the second time in four years the Dolphins will have one of the top two picks in the draft and, lo and behold, it will be the second time in four years the top of the draft is lacking in star power.

This year's top prospects -- Chris Long, Glenn Dorsey, Darren McFadden, Matt Ryan, Jake Long, Vernon Gholston -- all are good prospects with a lot to offer, but none of them scream "franchise player."

It was the same deal in 2005 when the Dolphins had the No. 2 pick after their 4-12 showing the previous season. That year, the top five picks ended up being Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams. Brown and Edwards have become good NFL players, but would either one be considered a franchise player?

OK, before anyone starts thinking this is just sour grapes, let's examine the top prospects from the other drafts since 2001 -- the first draft of the new millennium also was lacking in top-end talent.

2001 -- The top five that year included Michael Vick, who sure looked like a franchise quarterback heading into that draft, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who merely is the best running back in the game.

2002 -- Defensive end Julius Peppers was a freakish athlete and a much better prospect than either Chris Long or Gholston.

2003 -- Carson Palmer was the first pick that year. Think the Dolphins would hesitate to take Matt Ryan if he were anywhere near that kind of prospect? For good measure, that draft also offered wide receiver Andre Johnson.

2004 -- The top six that year featured Eli Manning, Robert Gallery, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Sean Taylor and Kellen Winslow. So you have two stud quarterbacks, a great wideout, a tremendous safety and a playmaking tight end. Gallery hasn't panned out, but he still projected as a better prospect than Long this year.

2006 -- That draft featured the Big Three of Mario Williams, Reggie Bush and Vince Young, although we never were completely sold on Young.

2007 -- Not everybody was sold on JaMarcus Russell as a franchise quarterback, but Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas were seen as the best wide receiver and offensive tackle prospects to come around in years.

This year, there's a significant drawback with all of the top prospects.

Chris Long has a great motor and great genes, but he's rather smallish to play end in a 3-4 and might or might not be able to maintain his level of production if he's moved to outside linebacker.

Jake Long was a fantastic left tackle in college, but there are many scouts who wonder whether he's athletic enough to play that position in the NFL.

Glenn Dorsey is being viewed as a Warren Sapp clone, but he's got a troublesome injury history and also doesn't make for a great fit for the Dolphins in their 3-4 defense.

Matt Ryan is a good quarterback prospect, but there aren't many observers who would consider him a "franchise" type. It's pretty clearly, actually, that he comes in as a prospect ranked behind the likes of Manning, Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Palmer, among first-round picks the last eight years.

Vernon Gholston display freakish athletic ability at times, but there have been questions about his motor and his tendency to disappear at times.

Finally, while many think McFadden is the best prospect in the draft, he had a nasty habit of fumbling while at Arkansas. Besides, running back might be the Dolphins' best position with Brown and Ricky Williams both recovering well from their 2007 injuries. Another issue with McFadden is that running backs are easy to find, and using the first overall pick on one is never a great idea.

It's no coincidence the Dolphins have tried to trade down both times they've had the No. 1 or No. 2 pick since 2005. They weren't successful in '05 and it's not likely they'll be successful, either, this year.

So they'll probably have to make a pick once again and hope that pick can make an immediate impact.

Brown was a solid, if not spectacular player, his first couple of seasons before he broke out in 2007. Maybe this year's pick will be a star from the beginning.

With Bill Parcells now in charge, the hope is the Dolphins won't be bad enough anymore to have a pick this high. If they do, though, it would be nice for a change if it came with a better consolation prize.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.