David J. Neal

Fins at 50: Miami Dolphins’ 50 biggest draft busts

Yatil Greene was a first round pick, No. 15 overall. His consecutive season-ending training camp injuries made him a fragile mistake.
Yatil Greene was a first round pick, No. 15 overall. His consecutive season-ending training camp injuries made him a fragile mistake. Miami Herald file

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50. Jake Long, OT, 2008, first round, No. 1 overall: How can we say a guy who made the Pro Bowl every year ranks as one of the worst picks? When he’s No. 1 overall and breaks down so much physically, he’s not worth retaining as a free agent after just four seasons. Instead of being a franchise cornerstone, Long left a gaping hole.

49. Mike Charles, DT, 1983, second round, No. 55 overall: Caught smoking marijuana in his first training camp and suspended in 1986 when he refused a physical exam with a drug test (he passed eventually). The Dolphins found their 1985 Outstanding Defensive Lineman fat and lazy and waived Charles after he collapsed during 1987 training camp drills. He’s now a devotee of exercise, healthy eating and spiritual health.

48. Chad Henne, QB, 2008, second round, No. 57 overall: A confident, strong-armed leader coached into being Checkdown Chad. Henne threw more interceptions than touchdowns each of his two seasons as a starter, 2009 and 2010. Ascended to starter after one Chad Pennington shoulder injury, lost the job back to Pennington in 2010 then got it back when Pennington sustained another shoulder injury two plays into the next game.

47. Jeff Toews, G, 1979, second round, No. 53 overall: A second-rounder should bring more than seven seasons of backup guard play (only 13 starts). Yeah, that’s more than they got when they traded second-rounders for AJ Feeley or Daunte Culpepper, but let’s have some standards, people…

46. Matt Roth, DE, 2005, second round, No. 46 overall: It took the alligator-armed Roth four seasons to emerge as a starter. The next year, 2009, he came to camp with a groin injury, lied to the Dolphins about it and eventually was released midseason.

45. Derek Hagan, WR, 2006, third round, No. 82 overall: One start, 53 catches, three touchdown catches, 12.2 yards per catch before getting cut during the 2008 season.

44. Dale Farley, LB, 1971, third round, No. 74 overall: In uniform for four games as a rookie, then dealt to Buffalo for aging defensive tackle Jim Dunaway during the offseason.

43. Otto Stowe, WR, 1971, second round, No. 47 overall: Stowe was drafted onto a team with the NFL’s best deep threat (Paul Warfield) and one of its best possession receivers (Howard Twilley). No surprise, then, after 13 catches and 21.2 yards per catch, Stowe was traded to Dallas for WR Ron Sellers and a second-round pick.

42. Stan Winfrey, RB, 1975, second round, No. 49 overall: Smarter than drafting Oprah Winfrey, not as smart as drafting Oprah’s bank account: 55 rushes, 215 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 starts in three seasons.

41. Scott Schwedes, WR, 1987, second round, No. 56 overall: Why use a second round pick on a wide receiver with no shot of beating out Mark Duper or Mark Clayton? Schwedes contributed more over four years as a mediocre punt returner.

40. Cecil Collins, RB, 1999, fifth round, No. 134 overall: Collins had been booted from LSU and was already on probation for burglary in Louisiana when the Dolphins drafted him. During his rookie season, he again committed burglary. Reportedly, he turned himself around during his prison sentence, which ended in 2013.

39. Michael Egnew, TE, 2012, third round, No. 78 overall: The Dolphins needed a deep threat. T.Y. Hilton, a Liberty City man out of FIU, wanted to be a Dolphin. The Dolphins traded back and took Egnew, cut two years later after only seven catches for 69 yards. In 2013, the Dolphins paid $30 million guaranteed money on Mike Wallace, looking for the bombs Hilton catches in Indianapolis.

38. Caleb Sturgis, K, 2013, fifth round, No. 166 overall: Spending a draft pick, even a fifth-rounder, on the game’s most fungible position shows questionable judgment. When that kicker hits at 77.5 percent over two years, almost 10 percent below the league average … goodbye, Ireland.

37. Jackie Shipp, LB, 1984, first round, No. 14 overall: The Dolphins traded up 12 spots to get one sack, one interception and 40 starts on the bad Dolphins defenses of 1984 to 1988 (ranked 19th, then 26th three years in a row).

36. Gary Kosins, RB, 1972, third round, No. 77 overall: What does one of the best backfields in NFL history need, with all three runners in their prime? That’s right, another running back! Kosins never made the Dolphins then played three years in Chicago.

35. Alex Moyer, LB, 1985, third round, No. 83 overall: Thirteen games over two seasons, cut. Another draft failure that contributed to the permissive defenses of the mid-to-late 1980s.

34. Mel Land, LB, 1979, third round, No. 63 overall: A college defensive lineman who never adjusted to NFL linebacker life. Cut during his second training camp, Land’s NFL career ended before that Halloween.

33. Lorenzo Booker, RB, 2007, third round, No. 71 overall: Booker saw himself as Reggie Bush. The Cam Cameron staff didn’t see him (only in uniform for seven games) and the Tony Sparano staff saw just another bite-size Florida State back (traded Booker during the offseason).

32. Ben Kelly, CB, 2000, third round, No. 84 overall: In four games over two seasons, he made as many tackles as police cars he crashed into while under the influence (one). A 2001 midseason cut after being 20 minutes late to a meeting.

31. Patrick Turner, WR, 2009, third round, No. 87 overall: Sundial slow, soft on routes and blocking, Turner provided almost nothing: zero catches, dressed for only two games as a rookie, cut before the next season.

30. Mike Watson, OT, 1977, third round, No. 71 overall: Waived after his rookie training camp.

29. Lyman Smith, DT, 1978, third round, No. 64 overall: A training camp cut, out of the league after one season, now a board certified orthopedic surgeon.

28. Guy Benjamin, QB, 1978, second round, No. 51 overall: Good at Stanford, this Guy was no John Elway, Andrew Luck or even Turk Schonert in the NFL. Forget unseating starter Bob Griese. Benjamin couldn’t get past erstwhile backup Don Strock in two seasons.

27. John Bosa, DE, 1987, first round, No. 16 overall: All-Rookie to all done in three years because of injuries. Bosa picked up seven sacks and started 21 of 31 games for three bad Dolphins defenses.

26. Phillip Merling, 2008, second round, No. 32 overall: Considered work ethic deficient, Merling’s lone highlight was an interception return touchdown in the 2008 season finale win that put the Dolphins in the playoffs. Five starts, 3 1/2 sacks, one Achilles injury and one domestic violence arrest in four seasons.

25. Jay Brophy, LB, 1984, second round, No. 53 overall: His last name began with “B” but his play didn’t fit the Killer Bs defense. Teams ran over and away from Brophy for three seasons before the Dolphins released him.

24. Jonathan Martin, OT, 2012, second round, No. 42 overall: Martin went AWOL in 2013 and launched accusations of bullying at teammate Richie Incognito and others. The ensuing brush fire embarrassed all concerned, but didn’t obscure Martin’s left tackle failings. An offseason trade to San Francisco ended Martin’s Dolphins career.

23. Jason Allen, S, 2006, first round, No. 16 overall: Then-Dolphins coach Nick Saban loved SEC defensive backs. Tennessee graduate Allen never caught up after his rookie holdout, never settled at corner or safety and got cut five games into the 2010 season.

22. Eddie Moore, LB, 2003, second round, No. 49 overall: Needing offense, the Dave Wannstedt-era Dolphins eschewed wide receiver Anquan Boldin and drafted defense, again (see Jamar Fletcher, below). Moore lost his rookie year to a foot injury, played sparingly the next two years while fighting knee problems before he was told “bring your playbook.”

21. John Beck, QB, 2007, second round, No. 40 overall: Small in stature and arm, Beck got battered into fumbles (seven in five games) and wayward throws (56.1 completion pct.) during the 1-15 Cam Cameron Calamity season. He didn’t play a down in 2008, released in 2009.

20. David Overstreet, RB, 1981, first round, No. 13 overall: A rookie holdout ended with Overstreet jumping at big Canadian Football League money for two seasons. When he returned in 1983, he ran for 392 yards, 4.6 per carry. He died in an auto accident the following summer.

19. Jim Urbanek, DT, 1968, third round, No. 62 overall: Jim 1 of 1968 played eight games in his only NFL season.

18. Jim Cox, TE, 1968, second round, No. 54 overall: Jim 2 of 1968 caught 11 passes for 147 yards in his lone NFL season.

17. Jim Keyes, LB/K, 1968, second round, No. 35 overall: Jim 3 of 1968’s Jim 1 lasted 17 games. Keyes’ role in South Florida sports history: hitting only seven of 16 field-goal attempts. Thus, the drafting of kicker Karl Kremser in 1969. Kremser remained in South Florida to coach FIU men’s soccer to two Division II national titles and Division I Final Four appearance over 27 years.

16. Andrew Greene, G, 1995, second round, No. 53 overall: Played six games, started one in Season One. Gone before Season Two.

15. Chuck Bradley, C, 1973, second round, No. 52 overall: Bradley never played for the Dolphins after a training camp knee injury wiped out his rookie season. He later played in the NFL as a tight end.

14. Mike Kadish, DT, 1972, first round, No. 25 overall: Kadish never played a game as a Dolphin. He made only the taxi squad (1970s speak for practice squad) after reporting to 1972 camp overweight. After a 1973 training camp concussion, the Dolphins traded him to Buffalo, where Kadish played nine seasons.

13. Jim Grabowski, RB, 1966, first round, No. 1 overall: The first ever Dolphins draft pick spurned the AFL start-up for the dynasty of the day, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. Understandable. Still, using a No. 1 overall pick on a running back who never played for you and ran for only 1,731 yards in a six-season career qualifies as a big boo-boo.

12. Don Reese, DE, 1974, first round, No. 26 overall: What promise Reese showed in solid 1975 and 1976 seasons washed away on a rainy 1977 offseason day when he got arrested with teammate Randy Crowder in a drug sting. He did time in the Dade County Stockade for trafficking. Reese shattered the façade regarding hardcore drug use among NFL players in a June 1982 Sports Illustrated first-person cover story. Rumors about various players’ drug use gushed forth the next several months, especially those suffering disappointing 1982 seasons. Included in that group: college quarterback Dan Marino.

11. Ted Ginn, KR/WR, 2007, first round, ninth overall: “Ted Ginn and the Ginn family…” Cam Cameron’s speech to apoplectic fans after drafting Ginn is more memorable than Ginn’s three-season Dolphins career. To be fair, Ginn led the Dolphins in receiving for their one recent playoff year, 2008, and scored three touchdowns on returns.

10. Sammie Smith, RB, 1989, first round, ninth overall: Passing over Lorenzo White and future Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas in 1988 left the hole the Dolphins tried to fill with Smith. A backup bust averaging 3.5 per carry committed two 1991 goal-line fumbles that got him pilloried by fans and, essentially, ended his Dolphins career.

9. Jamar Fletcher, CB, 2001, first round, 26th overall: With Pro Bowl cornerbacks Sam Madison and Pat Surtain and needing a dynamic quarterback, who takes a corner in the first round and leaves future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees on the board? This team. Fletcher recorded two interceptions in his three seasons.

8. Rick Norton, QB, 1966, first round, No. 2 overall: Finding quarterbacks in the 1966 draft resembled orchid hunting in a dandelion field. Norton’s completion percentages in his four Dolphins seasons, mostly as second or third string: 38.2, 39.8, 41.5, 43.9.

7. Darryl Carlton, OT, 1975, first round, No. 23 overall: Reported to training camp fat. Arrested on drug charges. One night, Carlton wrecked his car after fighting a bar security guard. He started nine games in two seasons before being traded to Tampa Bay for former Dolphins tackle Mike Current.

6. Billy Milner, OT, 1995, first round, No. 25 overall: Milner started nine games as a rookie and none of the first four in 1996 before being traded for tight end Troy Drayton.

5. Eric Kumerow, LB/DE, 1988, first round, No. 16 overall: The Dolphins spent a first-round pick on the type of towering specimen (6-7, 264) with questionable college production (at Ohio State) and drive that says “third round.” Cut after three seasons, no starts, five sacks and one interception.

4. Yatil Green, WR, 1997, first round, No. 15 overall: Doubt hung over this pick despite Green being from the University of Miami’s NFL factory. Consecutive season-ending training camp injuries removed all doubt — fragile mistake.

3. John Avery, RB, 1998, first round, No. 29 overall: Many teams passed on future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss. The Dolphins did so by trading back and drafting the 5-9 Avery. After 503 yards and 3.5 per carry as a rookie, he was traded to Denver two games into the 1999 season for wide receiver Marcus Nash (who never played for the Dolphins).

2. Pat White, QB, 2009, second round, No. 44 overall: Though electrifying running West Virginia’s spread option, White possessed few NFL skills, even for running the Wildcat. He got into four games, missed on all five passes. Fashion model height and about as light, White looked as if eventually he would get blasted into an ambulance – which he did in 2009’s season finale. He reported to 2010 training camp late and got cut before the season.

1. Dion Jordan, DE, 2013, first round, No. 3 overall: Moving up nine spots to for a player the coaching staff wouldn’t play summarizes the Dolphins’ last decade. Suspensions for using banned substances cost the 6-6, 275-pound Jordan eight games in 2014 and the entire 2015 season. His NFL career reads 26 of 48 games, one start, three sacks, three passes blocked.

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