The Dolphins are still in the playoff mix after a tough grind of a win on Monday night against the Jets. If you watched that game, though, you know the Dolphins are not only barely clinging to the final wild card berth at 7-5 but they don’t look like a team primed to finish strong. It makes you wonder what a difference faring only slightly better in the draft over the last ten years what have done for this franchise. Since 2000 the Dolphins have only been to the playoffs three times and 2008 was the last time they went. Their last playoff win was in 2000. Poor drafting has played a huge part in that equation and here are the top five most recent busts:
5. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon – 3rd overall pick in 2013
By the time his career is done he may easily be at the top of this list. By no means should be fully written off at this point, but he is well on his way to being labelled a colossal bust. The Dolphins drafted Jordan to team him up with Cameron Wake and make their pass rush terrifying. Jordan has yet to start a game in almost two full seasons. He’s rewarded the team with 2 sacks in 22 games played. When you get an opportunity to draft a player 3rd overall you need to see more immediate production than this. Whether he can develop remains to be seen but at this point it is impossible to justify how high he was taken. The next defensive end taken, Ezekial Ansah, already has 13.5 career sacks. The one after that, Barkevious Mingo, has 6.
4. Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford – 42nd overall pick in 2012 (2nd round)
Regardless of who is to blame in the infamous Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation, the reality is this was the biggest black mark on the Dolphins organization in this modern era. After a very poor rookie season at right tackle, Martin left the team in 2013 citing “emotional reasons”. Martin was traded to the 49ers for a conditional pick that will turn out to be a 7th rounder in 2015. That’s a horrible return on a 2nd round pick from 2012. Clearly drafting him was a big mistake by the Dolphins, even if Incognito is largely to blame for that. I bet the Dolphins would have preferred Alshon Jeffery who was taken 3 picks later. And while there’s nothing wrong with Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson was also available.
3. Pat White, QB, West Virginia – 44th overall pick in 2009 (2nd round)
White was one of the more dynamic college football players in his heyday and many were thrilled about this pick when it happened. Not that there were any good quarterbacks in this draft besides Matt Stafford, but the Dolphins could have taken LeSean McCoy instead. White only played one season and would never see an NFL field again. He threw only 5 passes in his career and they were all incomplete. This was as rough of a 2nd round pick as you’ll see.
2. Ted Ginn, WR, Ohio State – 9th overall pick in 2007
The return specialist and reserve receiver is still in the league doing his thing. His stint in Miami wasn’t notable, though, and in no way can a 9th overall pick be defended. While he showed some explosiveness on returns he would last only three years with the Dolphins. The next receiver taken 14 picks later was Dwayne Bowe. Or the Dolphins could’ve waited until the second round to get Sidney Rice. If a return specialist is what they wanted, Jacoby Jones was available in the 3rd round. And needless to say there were countless perennial Pro Bowlers taken after Ginn that played other positions.
1. Phillip Merling DE, Clemson – 32nd overall pick in 2008
Merling started 5 games in his NFL career and is out of the league. He had 3.5 career sacks but as of now he still has Dion Jordan’s career beat by 1.5 sacks. Merling was arrested in 2010 for battery of his then 2 months pregnant fiancée. He would remain with the Dolphins after that for one more unproductive season as a backup. Some players taken just after Merling: Jordy Nelson, Matt Forte, Brandon Flowers, Curtis Lofton, DeSean Jackson. The next defensive end taken was Calais Campbell.
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