The Miami Dolphins will participate in their 51st NFL draft on Thursday night and obviously hope their first round pick — the 22nd overall — will be a big part of the organization for many years to come.
As is the case with every other team in the league, the Dolphins have struck gold in the draft.
Dan Marino dropped to the Dolphins in 1983.
They traded up to grab Dion Jordan 30 years later.
Yes, there have been golden moments for the Dolphins at the draft — and picks they would rather soon just forget.
Marino dropping through the first round of the now-famous 1983 draft is one of the most fortuitous things to ever happen to the franchise. Miami was picking 27th in 1983 and never dreamed the Pitt quarterback would be available.
Yet, there he was.
“That was probably the most unique year ever as far as quality quarterbacks,” Shula told the Miami Herald in 1993.
“Everybody pretty much had Elway rated as the No. 1 guy, but after that there were a lot of discrepancies on how to rate them. We were very fortunate to get Dan.”
Marino ended up taking over the starting job from Super Bowl quarterback David Woodley in his rookie season, set all sorts of NFL records as a sophomore in a Super Bowl season of his own in 1984 and rolled into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Marino is one of three Hall of Famers the Dolphins’ spent a first round pick on.
In Miami’s second draft 50 years ago, the Dolphins watched San Francisco take Florida’s Steve Spurrier with the third overall pick then took Bob Griese with the fourth.
The following year, Miami snagged Syracuse back Larry Csonka with the eighth overall selection.
While Miami has struck out a few times in the first round, it has found some pretty good players there over the years.
In the later rounds, Miami has found the likes of Dwight Stephenson (a Hall of Famer from Alabama who was a second round pick in 1980), Jason Taylor (a third-round selection from Akron who will be enshrined a few miles south in Canton this summer) and Super Bowl 7 MVP Jake Scott (seventh round from Georgia in 1970).
Mark Clayton, enshrined in the Dolphins’ Ring of Honor next to Marino in the Hard Rock Stadium end zone, was quite the find in the eighth round of the 1983 draft from Louisville.
Jordan leads what is a pretty long list of Miami first-round washouts as he was a costly draft failure for the Dolphins.
Not only did Jordan not do a whole lot in his short tenure with Miami — he was released in March and signed with the Seahawks after playing in just 26 games over four seasons and none since 2014 — but it cost the Dolphins quite a bit to get him.
Miami moved up nine spots in the 2013 draft to get the swift and athletic linebacker/defensive end from Oregon, giving up its first round pick (with was No. 12) as well as its second round pick to Oakland for the right to move up as then-general manager Jeff Ireland figured he had to make a big splash.
Jordan isn’t the Dolphins’ lone first round failure — far from it — yet he definitely stands out above a mediocre crowd.
During the Don Shula years, the Dolphins didn’t have many top-10 draft picks but did in 1989 and went with a strong running back from Florida State named Sammie Smith with the ninth overall pick.
Although Miami’s second first-round pick that year (Florida safety Louis Oliver at 25th) worked out, Smith didn’t.
Smith would be traded to Denver after three seasons, not long after fumbling on the goal line against the Houston Oilers leading to derisive chants from the Joe Robbie Stadium crowd and death threats.
In 2007 — yes, it has been 10 years already — Cam Cameron used his only first round pick as coach of the Dolphins (he didn’t work out either) on Ohio State wideout Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth overall pick.
Although Ginn has had a solid NFL career and is still in the league, he only spent three seasons with the Dolphins.
Ginn’s Miami years will always be tied to Cameron and his comments about drafting “the Ginn family. I’ve known this family for over 10 years.”
Cameron was fired after one (1-15) season with Miami.
Others who didn’t live up to their lofty draft selection with the Dolphins include the likes of the oft-injured Yatil Green (1997), John Bosa (1987), Eric Kumerow (1988) and John Avery (1998).
A second round pick named Eddie ‘Earthquake’ Blake belongs on this list as well.
In 1966, the expansion Dolphins had the top two picks in the AFL draft and took running back Jim Grabowski from Illinois.
Unfortunately for Miami, the Green Bay Packers took the All-American back with the ninth pick of the NFL draft. He ended up signing with Vince Lombardi and winning two Super Bowls (inlcuding one in the Orange Bowl) before retiring in 1971 — never playing a down with the Dolphins.
Rick Norton, the quarterback Miami took out of Kentucky with the second overall pick in the AFL draft, did sign and spent four seasons with the Dolphins. He won just one of 11 games started as he threw seven touchdowns with 30 — yes, thirty — interceptions.
The NFL and AFL had a shared draft the following year, just in time for the Dolphins to take their Hall of Fame quarterback from Purdue.
MIAMI DOLPHINS’ FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS
1966: RB Jim Grabowski (Illinois, 1st overall)
1966: QB Rick Norton (Kentucky, 2nd overall)
1967: QB Bob Griese* (Purdue, 4th overall)
1968: RB Larry Csonka* (Syracuse, 8th overall)
1968: OT Doug Crusan (Indiana, 27th overall)
1969: DE Bill Stanfill (Georgia, 11th overall)
1972: DT Mike Kadish (Notre Dame, 25th overall)
1974: DT Don Reese (Jackson State, 26th overall)
1975: OT Darryl Carlton (University of Tampa, 23rd overall)
1976: LB Larry Gordon (Arizona State, 17th overall)
1976: DE Kim Bokamper (San Jose State, 19th overall)
1977: LB A.J. Duhe (LSU, 13th overall)
1979: OT Jon Giesler (Michigan, 24th overall)
1980: DB Don McNeal (Alabama, 21st overall)
1981: RB David Overstreet (Oklahoma, 13th overall)
1982: OG Roy Foster (USC, 24th overall)
1983: QB Dan Marino* (Pittsburgh, 27th overall)
1984: LB Jackie Shipp (Oklahoma, 14th overall)
1985: RB Lorenzo Hampton (Florida, 27th overall)
1987: DE John Bosa (Boston College, 16th overall)
1988: DE Eric Kumerow (Ohio State, 16th overall)
1989: RB Sammie Smith (Florida State, 9th overall)
1989: S Louis Oliver (Florida, 25th overall)
1990: OT Richmond Webb (Texas A&M, 9th overall)
1991: WR Randal Hill (Miami, 23rd overall)
1992: DB Troy Vincent (Wisconsin, 7th overall)
1992: LB Marco Coleman (Georgia Tech, 12th overall)
1993: WR O.J. McDuffie (Penn State, 25th overall)
1994: DT Tim Bowens (Mississippi, 20th overall)
1995: OT Billy Milner (Houston, 25th overall)
1996: DT Daryl Gardener (Baylor, 20th overall)
1997: WR Yatil Green (Miami, 15th overall)
1998: RB John Avery (Mississippi, 29th overall)
2001: DB Jamar Fletcher (Wisconsin, 26th overall)
2004: OT Vernon Carey (Miami, 19th overall)
2005: RB Ronnie Brown (Auburn, 2nd overall)
2006: DB Jason Allen (Tennessee, 16th overall)
2007: WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (Ohio State, 9th overall)
2008: OT Jake Long (Michigan, 1st overall)
2009: CB Vontae Davis (Illinois, 25th overall)
2010: DT Jared Odrick (Penn State, 28th overall)
2011: C Mike Pouncey (Florida, 15th overall)
2012: QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M, 8th overall)
2013: DE Dion Jordan (Oregon, 3rd overall)
2014: OT Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee, 19th overall)
2015: WR DeVante Parker (Louisville, 14th overall)
2016: OT Laremy Tunsil (Mississippi, 13th overall)
(*) - Indicates member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame