Miami's 2005 draft unlucky, or simply inefficient?
He said his team was "unlucky."
Specifically he was talking about the 2005 draft when, according to Huizenga, the Dolphins had a great chance to stock the team with talent because it was picking second overall but couldn't do so because, the owner lamented, "Talent was down. That draft didn't have the same caliber of talent as other years."
This sentiment was echoed by then-coach Nick Saban, who in the days leading up to the draft, said: "There's no Julius Peppers out there to pick at No. 2."
Sure enough, the Dolphins picked Ronnie Brown in the first round and he was the first of 26 running backs taken that day. Although he showed flashes of stardom last year, questions linger about his consistency and health as he's never finished a season he started and is now recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
In the second round the Dolphins took defensive end Matt Roth, who failed as a starter last season.
In the third round they took linebacker Channing Crowder who had a stellar rookie season but whose production has not continued to climb off that hopeful rookie showing.
In the fourth round the Dolphins got cornerback Travis Daniels, who fell out of favor last season when he lost his starting job.
In the fifth they took offensive tackle Anthony Alabi who was waived this offseason. In the seventh round Miami took defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who could not stick with the team despite his size.
So what is the point? That the Dolphins, seemingly unlucky to have high picks in a year talent was down, were not the victims of bad luck at all. They were simply victims of bad drafting.
Compare Miami's haul to the New York Giants, who were drafting in the middle of every round except the first because they had given up that pick in the Eli Manning deal the year before.
In the second round the Giants got cornerback Corey Webster, who is a starter now. In the third round, four picks after Miami got Crowder, the Giants picked defensive tackle Justin Tuck. Tuck was unspectacular his first season and was injured in 2006, but he simply burst onto the scene last year, collecting 10 sacks and two forced fumbles. He also had two sacks and a forced fumble against New England in the Super Bowl. The Giants would like Michael Strahan to return for 2008, but if he doesn't, the team is confident Tuck will be an excellent replacement.
In round four the Giants drafted running back Brandon Jacobs. He's the 6-4, 265-pound plow horse who can also run like a thoroughbred, doing the 40 in 4.54. Jacobs was sparingly used his first two seasons because Tiki Barber was the starter. But when he was finally pressed into action last year he averaged 5 yards per carry while gaining 1,009 yards. Not bad considering his signing bonus as a fourth-round pick was about $300,000. Brown's guaranteed money was $19 million.
By the way, Pro Bowl running back Marion Barber was also picked in the fourth round and Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore was picked in the third round. But I digress.]
Anyway, the Giants didn't have a pick in Round 5 or 7. But their haul on a day they lacked a first, fifth and seventh rounder included a starting cornerback, a starting running back and a starting-caliber defensive end -- all outstanding players who played key roles New York's Super Bowl run.
The Dolphins plucked two starters whose careers are at a crossroads and each one came at a much higher price.
As we draw closer to this draft, I am hearing the same sort of complaints as the Dolphins made about the 2005 draft. I hear people complaining there is no clear-cut top pick, I hear people saying there is no Peyton Manning or Julius Peppers. Nonsense.
I ask you keep these facts in mind:
The Dolphins are NOT unlucky to have the first pick. They can pick the draft's best player if they identify the right guy.
The Dolphins would nonetheless LOVE to trade that first pick because there will be good players available later at a much lower cost and risk.
And, finally, the pressure is on Miami to finally stop making excuses.