Dolphins History Lesson: Top 10 Picks and How They Panned Out

Alain Poupart

Running back Ronnie Brown, the second overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, will be inducted Saturday into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame via a virtual ceremony.

The former Dolphins running back played six seasons with the Dolphins and made the Pro Bowl once, in 2008 when he masterfully ran the Wildcat that led to a run (pun intended) to the AFC East title.

But how do we look back at Brown and his career with the Dolphins? And what about the other Dolphins players who arrived as top 10 picks? How long did it take before they contributed? And how much did they contribute for the Dolphins?

Before we get to that, let's wrap up the Alabama Sports HOF info by pointing out that Brown, a native of Georgia, was chosen for induction because he played collegiately at Auburn University.

Brown will become the 13th inductee with ties to the Dolphins, and the first since offensive coordinator Chan Gailey (coached at Troy State, Samford and for the USFL Birmingham Fire) in 2018.

The others, in reverse chronological order (with their Alabama connection in parentheses):

2015: OL Chris Gray (Auburn)

2013: Coach Nick Saban (University of Alabama)

2012: LB E.J. Junior (U. of Alabama)

2008: CB Don McNeal (U. of Alabama)

2007: LB Barry Krauss (U. of Alabama)

2004: RB Bobby Humphrey (U. of Alabama)

1999: RB Tony Nathan (U. of Alabama)

1995: DT Bob Baumhower (U. of Alabama)

1994: C Dwight Stephenson (U. of Alabama)

1991: RB Joe Cribbs (Auburn)

1985: LB Mike Kolen (Auburn)

OK, on to the Dolphins top 10 picks in the NFL draft:

1967 — QB Bob Griese, fourth overall

Griese didn't become a starter right away, but he helped the Dolphins win two Super Bowl and was elected to the Hall of Fame. Yeah, that one worked out.

1968 — RB Larry Csonka, eighth overall

Csonka started 10 games as a rookie in 1968, but his career really took off after Don Shula arrived in 1970 and it never stopped until he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

1989 — RB Sammie Smith, ninth overall

Smith was a big back with speed from Florida State, but he had had only one season out of four in college with more than 611 rushing yards. Smith never averaged more than 3.7 yards per carry in three seasons for the Dolphins and he incurred the wrath of fans with a couple of goal-line fumbles. He was traded to Denver in 1992 for the aforementioned Bobby Humphrey, but neither was able to revive their career in their new locale.

1990 — T Richmond Webb, ninth overall

Picking in the same spot for a second consecutive year, the Dolphins nailed that one. Webb was masterful at protecting Dan Marino's blind side from the start, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons.

1992 — CB Troy Vincent, seventh overall

The Dolphins ended up with this pick when they traded their 1991 first-round pick, Randal Hill, to Arizona after just one year. Vincent was a very good draft selection, though it was with the Eagles that Vincent had his best years. Because of salary-cap concerns, the Dolphins let Vincent leave as a free agency in 1996 and he ended up making the Pro Bowl five times.

2005 — RB Ronnie Brown, second overall

Brown was solid, if not spectacular for the Dolphins, though it's fair to usually expect more from a second overall pick. It's particularly painful that the Dolphins could have selected Aaron Rodgers instead of Brown, though they weren't the only ones who passed up the chance considering that Rodgers ended up going 24th overall. It also needs to be said that with very few exceptions, starting with Rodgers, there were not a lot of hits in that 2005 first round. Brown became an immediate starter for the Dolphins in 2005 and had his only 1,000-yard season the next year. He also was off to a great start for the forgettable 2007 Dolphins, but his season was cut short by a knee injury, before he bounced back to rush for 916 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008.

2007 — WR Ted Ginn Jr., ninth overall

Man, how many cracks have we heard through the years about "Ted Ginn and his family" and how many times have we heard that he was a bad top 10 picks. Sure, Ginn was overdrafted at number 9, particularly when you consider that Patrick Willis went 11th and Darrelle Revis went 14th, but guess what? Ginn is still playing in the NFL, and those and many others from that 2007 draft aren't. The truth is Ginn has been more a returner than a receiver in his career, but he's been productive enough to last 13 seasons and going on 14.

2008 — T Jake Long, first overall

There was nothing wrong with this pick from a talent standpoint because the Dolphins got an immediate starter who was headed for the Hall of Fame before injuries messed everything up. There's also a clear argument that Matt Ryan would have been the better choice because a quarterback invariably will have more of an impact on a franchise.

2012 — QB Ryan Tannehill, eighth overall

The Dolphins decided they absolutely needed a quarterback in the first round of the 2012 draft even though Matt Moore had gone 6-3 as a starter in the final nine games the previous year. That led to the massive overdrafting of Tannehill, who had played quarterback only in his final year and a half at Texas A&M after starting off as a wide receiver. Tannehill started right away as a rookie after veteran David Garrard blew out his knee in training camp, but rarely rose above serviceable during his time in Miami. Making matters more painful, three of the next four picks immediately after Tannehill in 2012 were Luke Kuechly, Stephon Gilmore and Fletcher Cox.

2013 — DE Dion Jordan, third overall

We don't really need to go over this one, do we? It's bad enough that Jordan had as many suspensions (three) as sacks during his time in Miami, the Dolphins traded their second-round pick that year to move up from 12th to third. Maybe one consolation, however small, is that like 2005 there were very success stories in the first round that year — the one that jumps out is DeAndre Hopkins, taken 27th by Houston. Jordan started only one game for the Dolphins, that start coming in his second season.

2020 — QB Tua Tagovailoa, fifth overall

And this brings us to Tua, who arrived with an eye-opening college resume but also questions about his durability. Whose path of a former Dolphins top 10 pick will he follow? The answer could go a long way toward determining what's in store for the next several years for the Dolphins.

Comments (2)
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Alain Poupart
Alain Poupart

Editor

"Being a starter right away" means winning the starting job as a rookie, which Griese didn't. And I'm very technical. Thanks for reading. Quick trivia: Do you know Stofa's claim to fame in Miami?

GoPhins
GoPhins

You're right that Bob Griese wasn't a starter right away. Not until the second offensive possession of the first game of his rookie season against the Denver Broncos in 1967. John Stofa broke his ankle and Griese took over from there. so technically he wasn't a starter for 3 plays.


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