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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Miami's 2005 draft unlucky, or simply inefficient?

A couple of years ago, during a one-on-one interview with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, the billionaire expressed frustration about his team based on a fact he said no one could overcome.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And, finally, the pressure is on Miami to finally stop making excuses."

Amen! Let's pick some players and go win some games!

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2005 Draft

Weak draft or poor selections?

Pick #3 Braylon Edwards-ProBowler
Pick #11 Demarcus Ware-2X ProBowler
Pick #12 Shawne Merriman-3X ProBowler
Pick #13 Jammal Brown-ProBowler

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky has nothing to do with it. You make your own luck when it comes to drafting players and it all starts with preparation. Past regimes obviously did a bad job with this but I am confident the current regime knows what they are doing.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous DaveinOhio said...

I was starting to become a big Brown fan last year. That despite the team that we had, he was standing out as a ProBowler. I'm not ready to say yet that he was a bust pick. a couple of the other players that you mentioned took a couple ears before they bloomed. I say we give Brown another chance

2:58 PM  
Anonymous FINSFAN said...




3:04 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

excellent post Armando. This is exactly what I enjoy reading on a Thursday in March. Keep up the good work. Hopefully Parcells will be "luckier" than Satan and Cam/Ran

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media ALWAYS has the luxury of 20/20 hindsight...Nice Job Armando.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky to have the first pick?

Yeah, right. Is that why nobody in their right mind believes we're going to be able to trade out?

There are some good prospects in the first round but NONE worth the kind of money the first pic will get.

And that's the simple truth.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Armando - great post. I've become a big fan of your blog since about mid-season this past year.

You certainly make some good points about the Fins draft choices in recent years, particularly 2005 when they had such a high pick. But I would argue that Ronnie Brown is not yet a bust. He was having a great season last year - in fact, he was running well even when defenses knew the Fins couldn't throw. Let's all hope the injury bug hasn't bitten too hard. If he can stay healthy (big if?), he'll be a great contributor.

Also can't give up on Crowder yet. Like you said, he had a great rookie year, and has been mediocre on what has become a bad defense. Perhaps a victim of the system, or the losing mentality that must affect all players on a team such as this. But, you noted that Tuck had two unspectacular years before he came into his own. So let's not write off Crowder just yet.

Most importantly, let's hope Parcells & Co. know a hell of a lot more about drafting talent than the last few administrations.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's making the excuses now? Their identity would pinpoint the problem. Fan excuses, of course, are meaningless and endless.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous hunter said...

Please don't throw Ronnie Brown into this with the other RBs. He has as more career yards than Jacobs or Barber despite missing some time. And Gore was picked with the first pick of the 3rd round...

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Justin NotherFin said...

So tell me Armando, who would YOU have taken with the 2nd pick in the 05 draft?

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that we could have done better on the draft.

A little luck is involved, however. I mean, how do you get a guy like Tom Brady in the 6th round.

But making better choices counts also.

When bad drafting becomes a pattern for years, that's when you end up with the '07 Fins.


7:30 PM  
Anonymous NomdePlame said...

Even in Parcells, we still don't have an Ernie Accorsi. His hand-picked successor did a bang-up job last year as well. Ernie pretty much insisted that Reese become the GM when he retired. Apparently, he was able to see the talent in executives as well as players.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason Allen could've been Antonio Cromartie.

9:51 PM  
Blogger JinVA said...

I think you're being way too harsh on Ronnie. '05 was a weak draft per/say. Without hindsight...Braylon and Merriman were the two that stood out. I was surprised we didn't B.Edwards actually. D. Ware is a nice player, but he's not near as dominant as Merriman. Jammal Brown? Nice player, but not worth of the #2 IMO.

Braylon and Merriman are it...then Ronnie.

As for the guy bashing Mueller's draft last must be one of the members of the Quinn Man Crush Club? I think Randy did a solid job last year, and we'll see more this year out of his group IMO.

Time will tell!

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kid says forget the past, think about the future!

This year select:

Jake Long OT 1st Round
Brendan Albert OG 2nd Round
Dustin Keller TE 2nd Round
Cliff Avrill LB/DE 3rd Round
Ahtyba Rubin NT 4th Round

Trust The Kid

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GREAT Article Mando !!!!!!!!

I'd be willing to bet that you could go all the way back to Jimmy Johnson's last year and discover the same BAD draft selections year after year after year. Luck has nothing to do with it! The simple fact is, we've sucked at talent evaluation!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it aint the players that we drafted. its the 20 coaches we've had in the last 8 years. simply put, we need to hold on to a coach for some sort of consistency.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about these players that got away in 2005. All of the following players mentioned are Pro Bowl players for their current teams

#32 Logan Mankins OG - NE
#45 Lofa Tatupu LB - Sea (taken 1 pick before Mia took Matt Roth)
#57 Justin Miller CB - NYJ
#146 Trent Cole LB/DE - Phi

And this one should really sink home:

#214 Derek Anderson QB - Bal (now the starter in Cleveland)

The issues Miami has had in securing talent has not been due to "bad luck." The last four regimes that allowed quality players like Larry Izzo and Wes Welker to go to the Tapetriots and other teams made the piss poor decisions on Draft Days between 1998 and 2004(5) that was culminated in the 2007 1-15 season.

8:10 AM  
Blogger lacesoutdan said...

Ronnie Brown is better than Jacobs, Gore and Barber.

Also, Channing Crowder was a nice pick in the 3rd round.

Also, Corey Webster sucks.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ronnie Brown is a top 4 running back in the league. People who say otherwise, don't know talent. Big, fast and strong. Don't talk about not seeing running lanes. We haven't had a f---in running lane in 10 years. Ricky did it without running lanes. Ronnie hasn't played a full season? If I remember correctly, he missed 4 games, had no blocking and still put up close to 1000 yds on almost 5 yds/carry. He was well on his way to leading the league in yards from scrimmage last year when dumbsh-- Lemon threw the stupid pass that was intercepted, when he could have pulled down the ball and run for the 1st. ALL WITHOUT BLOCKING. If we get some blocking this year, look for a step up from what it could have been last year.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Armando Salguero said...

I don't remember anywhere where I wrote Ronnie Brown is a bust. There are questions about him, to be sure. But I did not, as some are suggesting, say he is a bust.

How do you guys make that leap?

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I would prefer that the Fins find a dance partner(no,not Jason Taylor)to trade out of the top pick for additional,later picks,I can not agree that the Fins are in an unlucky position this draft year.On the contrary,because there are a handful of "first-pick-talents" in this years draft-the Fins can not possibly miss!Unless they choose another DB with a bad hip or a MLB with a bad shoulder or a kick returner with a bad foot!!Oh,wait a sec,Dave Wannabe,Nick Satan,and CaMoron are all gone.Thank God!Go Dolphins!!

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats a bunch of crap! I belive what Parcells says, it dosent matter where you pick #1 or #31, it matters who you pick!
Ronnie Brown is awsome, with some concern, we have a good back field, Channing Crowder didnt havec to be great with Zach here, now he does an will!
Cam, an randy did do a great job last year with the jury still out on Ginn an Beck!

This years first day draft should be #1 Jake Long #2 OT a Tracy Porter #2b CB Philip Wheeler LB #3 Martin Rucker TE

One thing everyone has to remember is the Bill Parcells is drafting for us, look at his record! he knows tallent!!

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It' not about luck, it's about draft philosophy. Something the Dolphins now share with the Giants, now that the Parcells influence is in Miami.

One aspect being, don't draft a RB high in the draft. Not taking anything away from Ronnie who I think is above average, but the position is prone to injury for obvious reason. Another being, have a set criteria for what you want in a player, i.e., a prototypical size.

One thing I do disagree with is his assessment of Roth as a failing last year. If you compare him with Demarcus Spears who was taken before him in the draft you won't find much difference in production.

Spears - '07 - 50 tkls, 2 sacks, Career, 106 tkls, 4.5 sacks.

Roth - '07 - 43 tkls, 3 sacks, Career, 100 tkls, 7.5 sacks

It should be noted Roth missed 3 games last year, even so, he has more career sacks the spears. So I don't think you can call him a failing without considering the same for Spears as well.


11:37 AM  
Blogger Hal said...

What's really sad is this: that 2005 draft was arguably the best draft this team had from 2000 to 2006.

I remember at the time, despite the questionable Roth pick, that it actually looked great after 5 years of Wannstedt/Spielman boneheadedness. For example, we actually added a first day draft pick before the draft instead of trading them for a future higher pick to a Philly or New England (re: 2001, 2003) or for the likes of A. J. Feeley (2004).

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets bring back Jimmy Johnson, because he was the last one to have a good draft.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, could we even deal this pick straight up to the Falcons for their 3rd?....I doubt it.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Dolfan Rick Living in SF said...

Look who the Niners got! Alex Smith is at a crossroads. He wasn't really prepared to play the pro game until Norv Turner gave his year to him. He's not a fit with Mike Martz as OC. On the other hand Braylon Edwards bloomed because they found an unknown in Derek Anderson to get the ball to him & Kellen Winslow. Jamal Lewis at RB is not a shabby option either.

I don't know if Ronnie Brown will come back healthy, but he showed the moxie he needed to show before he blew out the ACL with a weak OL. A healthy Ronnie Brown would make him worth it.

I have bigger questions relating to Matt Roth & Channing Crowder. I've seen neither really get better as players. This past year was a disaster because guys like them who needed to step up really didn't.

Tuna's pattern is to find players who will give consistent solid performances whether as role players or special team players. The key is not to always find the guy with the best combine scores, but really look at the guys who have this propensity to make plays.

It's a new era. Which new players will step up and not only play at that high level, but will be a leader among the other players in the locker room. I loved Zach's heart as a player, but going public and talking about how "we stink" brings everyone else down and into a pattern of losing.

The rebuilding process is not only about infusing the team with new quality talent (built mainly through several drafts), but a change in attitude and culture in the locker room.

That where a winning attitude begins.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dolphins drafting has been like trying to ignore cancer since about 1997. And really, aside from Jason Taylor, Sam Madison and Pat Surtain, you could argue the Dolphins haven't drafted well since 1996 with Zach.

I'm glad Tuna has overhauled the whole scouting department. They were one of the biggest reasons why we struggled to win for over a decade. And not finding a quality replacement for Marino has been the franchises' second form of cancer.

1:18 PM  

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