2015 was my 39th Dolphins draft (in 45 years as a fan) in which I was aware that a draft even existed. ☺
I used to wait for the newspaper to see a list of names, but I had no way to know who most players were, outside of a top pick here or there. Plus, like most others in the 1970’s, rookies were not seen as ‘game changers’.
Here are some of my most VIVID memories of Dolphins drafts. They jump out because AT THE TIME they elicited emotional memories, regardless of eventual status as HOF or bust. This is NOT a list of “best drafts” or “worst drafts”. It is an attempt to express how our team has intertwined itself with our lives.
The grouping of recent drafts making the list, I would assume, is the result of the NFL’s “product diversification” through the NFL Network and marketing every aspect of the season and off-season to the fans.
The drafts are listed chronologically, but given a number ranking to show where I rank them for personal reasons.
# 7. 1976 Kim Bokamper
Because my mom loved Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” … hot Iowa summer nights on the porch, I would sing “A Boy Named Kim”. She gave me looks like I was stupid for not knowing the lyrics. lol (give me a break, I was 13!)
#11. 1978 Guy Benjamin
My first year in California… a Stanford QB to replace Griese? Say it ain’t so! Whew! It wasn’t so!
#2. 1981 David Overstreet
Spring of my junior year of high school… Believe it or not, this ranks as one of my most vivid memories, perhaps because his tragic death has been burned it in my memory.
#4. 1983 Dan Marino
I was dealing with a knee injury and the possibility of losing my track scholarship in my second year of college. I was supposed to transfer from my junior college in California to U.T.S.A. in the Fall, but they were waiting for medical reports. I knew nothing of the “rumors” surrounding Marino. I didn’t question how we got him… I was just thrilled that David Woodley would not be our “Griese” (I know, just ask OD… some of us just can’t shake the ghost of those 70’s teams). This draft has been elevated in status, like 1981, but for positive and obvious reasons. By 1985 I would be bragging about this draft, even if I had been preoccupied at the time.
#10. 1989 Two 1st Round Picks
I had been in Dallas-FW area for 5 years and was in graduate school, waiting tables and listening to the draft on the radio in the kitchen. Sammie Smith and Louis Oliver were the picks. We were in the ESPN days but I used my money for books (is that how you spell beer?) rather than cable t.v.. However, I was an avid college football fan and in the 1980’s the teams from the state of Florida dominated the college discussions like today’s SEC. Fla. St. and UF guys staying in Florida? Can’t miss. Oops, it would have been better from U-Miami in the late 80’s.
#9. 1990 Richmond Webb
Webb was a product of Roosevelt H.S. in Dallas, not far from where I was still training in a post-college attempt to break a 4-minute mile. I grew up idolizing Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Jim Ryun, and Steve Prefontaine. I ran 4:03 in 1987 and wanted to reach the sub-4 milestone before entering my life as a “worker bee”. On the Tuesday after the draft, during a 12-mile run, everyone was talking about local product Webb getting drafted. I could finally talk about the Dolphins in the middle of Cowboy country. Webb was an instant favorite. (p.s., I tore my Achilles that summer and never raced again, subsequently going from Manute Bol-thin to looking like Richmond Webb).
#12. 1996 Karim Abdul-Jabbar
Just the name, folks. He wasn’t even a first rounder. I clearly remember joking: wow, we just drafted a the tallest RB in history. I made this joke to my students as a first year teacher. “Crickets” from the purple dinosaur generation.
#5. 2005 Ronnie Brown
The drafts from previous years were a blur, having been embroiled in a brutal divorce. 2005 was my first freedom draft. I hated the pick, and I thought it was a terrible year to be drafting that high, desperately wanting them to trade back. Ronnie’s jersey was the first I had owned since Griese (Marino t-shirts, but no jersey). Ten years later this was a classic case of overcompensation. Something about our drafts in the mid-naughts just didn’t feel right. But it could have been worse. We could have taken Cadillac Williams or Cedric Benson. Perhaps take Aaron Rodgers and wait for a RB (hindsight is wonderful).
#1. 2007 Tedd Ginn
Everyone wanted a QB. I wanted Adrian Peterson. I had remarried and my wife had graduated from U.T. so we watched all the games. Peterson was NFL ready coming out of high school (yes, look it up!). His freshman year at Oklahoma he single-handedly ran OVER the Longhorns. I hate OU, but couldn’t stop talking about this kid. My academic team was at state competition, and the coach (ME) was sneaking away to watch GameCast of the draft online. A.P. was almost there for us. Damn Vikings!! I know, I know… we just drafted Brown a few years ago. Then the Dolphins called Ginn’s name. I slammed my laptop closed and didn’t even look at the rest of the draft until the following Wednesday. It wouldn’t be long until 1-15. My laptop slam was prophetic! The Dolphins still seem to be reeling, but my academic teams (four different teams per year) went the opposite direction, winning a combined 26 state titles and 7 national championships. Somewhere Seinfeld is smugly satisfied about how he always “breaks even”.
#3. 2008 Jake Long
My attempts to bring my new wife into the Dolphin family fan had slammed into that 1-15 season. She was not impressed. She feigned interest as I explained the significance of our First #1 overall pick since 1966’s inaugural. I spent more time reading media debates on this pick than I had in my previous 30+ years combined. I felt Long was the best and SAFEST pick. What I hadn’t internalized at that time was that the game had ALREADY changed, and we may have been drafting for the ‘old game’.
#6. 2012 Ryan Tannehill
After the “Suck for Luck” vs “Play to Win” endless debates, a QB was certainly gonna happen. Like many Dolphin fans, we worry about getting a “Ghandi complex” by intentionally starving ourselves on draft day. Tannehill was my LEAST favorite. In six years of UT games, I finally understood what they hated about Tx A&M. I was hoping for the Fins to wait until the 2nd round and take Cousins. I had a Ginn moment. My television was in more danger than a Fox News reporter on a late night stroll through Baltimore. The only pick I liked was Miller. If I can warm up to Tanny leading our team, just about anybody can. ☺ Tanny’s first game ever as our QB would be the first game for my daughters and my wife. The last two minutes of the first half (Texans) I got some of those “1-15” looks.
#8. 2015 Overall Haul of Talent
This draft is fresh but I can’t help but feel it will stay in my top 10 rankings because of the cumulative impression of “football” guys we have collected in the draft and undrafted free agents. What a joyful opposition to 2007. This is one of the first drafts in decades where I didn’t find myself “rationalizing” until I “liked” the picks.
Perhaps the 2015 draft will be remembered because of a bunch of Dolphin bloggers with laptops of their own, who over the last few years were able to teach me so much about this game (and team) that has been with me throughout my life.