Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks before the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Draft Pivot Point: #8 Overall – Will History Repeat?


It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Dolphins continue their hapless ways ever since owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland gave (then-unemployed coach) Jim Harbaugh a Laurel and Hardy Handshake while (then-Miami Head Coach) Tony Sparano was left twisting in the wind wondering about his own future. Two weeks later, Ross publicly proclaimed Sparano as “the best man for the job” before firing him later the same year halfway into the season.

So much for their “secret” flight and “secret” meeting.

They couldn’t land Manning. They didn’t want to pay Flynn or Alex Smith. The last QB the Dolphins drafted in the first round was a kid named Dan Marino. Marino is currently AARP’s Men’s Life Ambassador. That’s how long it’s been.

He’s 50, and tore cartilage in his knee Easter weekend playing beach football with his family, so he’s not pulling his own Brett Favre act to rescue the Dolphins anytime soon.

Now, Miami fans need to realize there is no “second coming.” There is only one Dan Marino, so get OVER it okay?

Since Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have had more different starting QBs (16) than any other team.

Since Miami fans had their “Suck for Luck” campaign last fall and Matt Moore is still the top guy, will they pull a “Blow for Barkeley” refrain this year?

From the looks of it…yeah, they will.

You see, recent NFL draft history says Miami will take Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick overall, assuming Cleveland or someone else doesn’t jump them. NFL draft history is replete with overdrafted QB busts. JaMarcus Russell. Ryan Leaf. Heath Shuler. Todd Blackledge.

Now it’s even worse. Blaine Gabbert should’ve been a third-rounder at best and Christian Ponder a second-rounder only because he played a pro style offense at FSU. Yet, they both went in the top 12 out of need.

In addition, the rookie wage cap meant teams wouldn’t be out $60+ million dollars if they were wrong. That’s like letting teenagers drink; it’s a recipe for disaster.

Only time will tell if the Redskins just imploded their franchise for years to come but that’ll be played out this fall. RG3 has all the tools, both physically and intellectually to be a success and a star. Tannehill…not so much.

Keep in mind a few things that are unique to the Miami Dolphins when trying to prognosticate whether or not they’ll take Tannehill at #8 overall:

1- Miami Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman was Ryan Tannehill’s Head Coach at TAMU, so he knows the kid better than anyone. Some say this will greatly help Tannehill’s eventual timetable for learning the offense while others say Sherman’s input will be the determining factor in whether they’ll draft him at all. Both may be true. Another thing that’s true needs to be considered. Mike Sherman got FIRED from the head coaching job at TAMU. Hmm.

2- Miami has a history of drafting QBs in the second round. Stars like…John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White come to mind just in the past 5 years. The best QB they’ve had since Marino was probably Scott Mitchell, a 4th-round pick that was to be Marino’s backup but started for about a season when Marino went down. He had a number of years to learn the system behind a HOF QB and did it well. He was traded and never heard from again.

3- Ross and Ireland try to put up a happy face, but too many ex-Dolphins players have let it be known that nobody wants to play for them. It has become a standing joke since Channing Crowder was cut last season and blabbered about it on his radio show. Since then, others have pretty much backed up what he said, and what he said wasn’t flattering.

While the last point means nothing as far as drafting (drafted/conscripted, it’s all the same), it makes this year’s puzzle even harder to solve.

Ross and Ireland said long ago “we have a plan.”

So did the Cylons.

With their track records, do they really think fans will support them? “Oh…you have a PLAN!! oh! Well, then, that’s different!” No. Nothing so catchy as “Planning for Manning.” Thank GOD “Tannehill” has no obvious easy rhymes!

Ross and Ireland are trying to keep a calm face on a franchise that, behind closed doors, has to be anything but calm. NFL Draft history says they’ll reach and grab Tannehill at 8. Their own history (personally and the franchise) says they won’t.

In 2007, the ‘fins last draft before the “Ireland Era” (eww) began, they took Ohio State speedster Ted Ginn, jr. 9th overall and then John Beck in the second round. Aside from one stellar game against the Jets when he returned two kicks for TDs, Ginn was a bust. He’s been since traded to SF where he has continued to bite it.

It turns out while Ginn has a very high top speed, it takes him 100 yards to reach it. He’s now dropping passes for the 49′ers. Oops.

John Beck couldn’t beat out Rex Grossman in Washington last year. Oopsie.

In 2008, Ireland’s first season as GM, he made Jake Long the top overall pick. It was thought a good, safe choice at the time and that’s how it turned out. Build from the inside-out, you got your star LT/blind side protector, so far so good.

Then, he took Chad Henne with the 57th overall selection the next round. Henne wasn’t exactly a bust, but he never did develop into a franchise-QB, either, and was not re-signed when he became an RFA after last season. He’ll be starting over Gabbert in Jacksonville by week 9 if he doesn’t snatch the job in training camp. Gabbert’s that bad.

The next year he quizzed Dez Bryant on his feelings about his mother’s having been a prostitute. Nice!

So, what does all this tell us? Not all that much, really, other than Miami is a very troubled franchise.

I think when all is said and done, this is what it’ll boil down to:

If Miami (prudently) does NOT take Tannehill at #8 overall, they’ll probably draft either Reilly Reiff of Iowa, and filling a gaping hole at RT while Jake Long enters a contract year and will also become “leverage” by default in those talks, or they’ll draft Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram, or possibly Luke Kuechley for the defense. If they don’t take Tannehill, Reiff’s the best, safest choice on offense and Kuechley’s a future All-Pro in the mold of Zach Thomas but with actual athletic ability. Scary, scary good player and IMO a Blue-Chip along with Luck, RG3, Kalil, Richardson, and Claiborne.

If they reach for a Michael Floyd, a top-ten talent with Undrafted Free Agent intangibles, that will be the start of a very loud, gutteral scream out of South Florida…a desperate (and likely final) attempt by the current regime to get correct where the previous one failed in 2007.

Then look for Brandon Weeden to be gobbled up by the ‘fins in the second round to complete their next reverse-QB/WR tandem. And Weeden’s QB rating was the worst of the top few tiers when under pressure (which was highly infrequently) at Oklahoma State. Tannehill’s QBR under pressure was actually pretty good, and that’s promising for his NFL future. It indicates good pocket presence.

But Tannehill isn’t the immediate answer, and I think the Dolphins actually know this, but the fans are clamoring for a franchise QB and have been for 15 years.

I think that this time around, Ireland is boxed in by an increasingly irate fan base and not throwing away their top pick. He has the added pressure of not having a #1 WR, signing the feared Legadu Nannee a couple of weeks ago. He’s a warm body, that’s it. They need playmakers in the passing game as well as a quarterback, but Floyd is a risky, risky pick especially for the Dolphins.

The #8 pick will tell a lot more than just what Miami thinks of Ryan Tannehill. It’ll speak volumes about the pressure Ireland is facing. If he’s the cool customer he and Ross want us to think, he’ll draft Cox, Reiff, or possibly Kuechley. Coples is too much of a risk in the top ten as well.

If they draft a WR other than Justin Blackmon, it’ll scream of desperation.

If they cave and draft Tannehill, it’ll be out of sheer stupidity feeling the heat from the fans. Updating resume’s should be next on the list.

One thing is certain, and that’s this: No matter who the Dolphins draft at #8 overall, it’ll tell us a lot about the inner workings of the franchise.

Tags: Fletcher Cox Jeff Ireland Luke Kuechley Miami Dolphins Michael Floyd Reilly Reiff Ryan Tannehill