First round rewind: Who the Miami Dolphins should have taken

Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a Miami Dolphins helmet before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a Miami Dolphins helmet before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Ever since Tom Brady became a mid-round gem for the Patriots fans and media alike love to look back on what could have been. Hindsight is always 20/20.

On Thursday night the NFL will commence its annual draft with the first round. On Friday rounds two and three will play out and finally rounds four through seven will finish on Saturday. By Sunday teams will begin filling their rosters with undrafted rookies and come Monday, everyone will begin the debate over who should have been picked when and by who.

In the last ten years many fans would love to go back and change their teams selections and that is exactly what we will do with the Miami Dolphins first round picks of the last ten years.

The parameters of this exercise is simple. This is not a redraft of every team so the players already taken remain taken. Only players that were on the board when Miami selected are allowed to be substituted.

2007: Ted Ginn – 9th overall

When the name Ted Ginn was announced fans were in an uproar. When Cam Cameron said fans would love “the entire Ginn family” the fans wanted both of them gone along with his family. Ginn is still in the NFL and is productive but never close to what Cameron believed he would find.

Who they should have drafted:

Patrick Willis – LB – selected two picks after Ted Ginn

Willis had a great albeit short career in San Francisco. He retired early over long-term health concerns but during the years he played he was a very good interior linebacker who commanded the defense. In addition, Willis would have filled a need for the Dolphins.

2008: Jake Long – First overall pick

Long started at left tackle day one for the Dolphins but after two seasons he began to endure back issues that began to cause him to miss games and he finished his last two seasons in Miami on IR. When his contract was up Miami opted not to re-sign him and allowed him to test the market. He signed with the St. Louis Rams and ended the season on IR.

Who they should have taken:

Matt Ryan – QB – taken two picks later

Ryan took some time to develop but from the start he showed confidence in his ability and a gunslinger mentality. Had the Dolphins drafted Ryan a lot would have changed for the Dolphins had he has similar success in Miami. For starters, Chad Henne, Pat White, and maybe even Ryan Tannehill would not have been drafted.

More from Dolphins Draft

2009: Vontae Davis – 25th overall pick

Davis’s departure from Miami was due more to the growing agitation of Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland than his actual play. When Davis was on his game he was good but Davis was inconsistent too often and the Dolphins couldn’t pass up the 2nd round pick they would waste a year later.

Who they should have drafted: 

Clay Mathews – LB – one pick later

The Dolphins have played merry-go-round with their linebackers and during the Parcells/Ireland years the rotation of free agent linebackers was almost a yearly ordeal. In fact while Matthews is still enjoying a stellar career in Green Bay, Miami is still trying to solve their linebacker issues.

2010: Jared Odrick – 28th overall pick

Jared Odrick was not a bad pick for Miami and his career was productive. He left in free agency after his rookie contract when the Dolphins opted not to meet his salary demands. The issue here was that Miami held the 12th overall pick and traded with the Chargers to land at 28. As part of that trade, Miami gained a 2nd round pick they used on Koa Misi.

Who they should have picked:

Jared Odrick – Had the Dolphins stayed at 12 they could have drafted DB Earl Thomas who was selected at 14 or they could have drafted Jason Pierre-Paul who went 15th overall. Of the players drafted between Odrick and Misi in round two, it would be a toss-up and Miami did o.k. with Odrick. However they could have passed on Misi in favor of Rob Gronkowski who was taken two picks after Misi.

2011: Mike Pouncey – 15th overall

Pouncey has had a very good career with the Dolphins with multiple Pro-Bowls but lately injuries seem to be taking a toll and he is starting to miss games. Recently he underwent stem cell treatments in an effort to help his hip issues.

Who the Dolphins should have taken:

Mike Pouncey: There are plenty of options after Pouncey but you can’t argue with the production Miami has got out of him when healthy. In addition Pouncey was a perfect draft pick in a year that saw the off-season shortened by a lockout. Pouncey was able to step in day one and start with little learning curve.

2012: Ryan Tannehill – 8th overall pick

After several years of going through the motions and being held back by Joe Philbin, Tannehill impressively improved under Adam Gase. While still carrying doubters, Tannehill is winning over his detractors with gritty play and as seen last season, improved accuracy and decision-making.

Who the Dolphins should have taken:

Luke Kuechly – LB – one pick later:

This is actually kind of tough to call. The reason Miami should not have selected Tannehill is based on the previous change of Jake Long for Matt Ryan. That same line of thinking could be used in regards to Kuechly and Matthews. Except Matthews also plays outside. So where does that leave Patrick Willis? Well Willis walked away from the game so with Matthews outside and Kueckly inside, the Dolphins defense is a monster and Matt Ryan is throwing passes.

2013: Dion Jordan – Third overall pick in a trade up:

There is little question that Dion Jordan is one of if not the biggest draft bust in Miami Dolphins history. Making matters worse is that the Dolphins gave up both a first and 2nd round pick to move up to take him. Who could have they have had better? Anyone.

Who they should have taken:

Sheldon Richardson – DT – pick 13.

Miami should have stayed put in what turned out to be a very weak top 10 draft class. Richardson was drafted one pick after Oakland took D.J. Hayden in the 12th spot that Miami held and it’s very clear that the Dolphins would have been much better with Richardson over quite a few of their draft picks. At 42 in round two the Raiders took Manelik Watson who you could argue has played as good or better than 2014’s first round pick JaWuan James. Or they could have drafted Le’Veon Bell who went six picks after the 42 selection.

2014: Jawuan James – 19th overall pick:

James played pretty good his first year then hit the sophomore slump that has lasted into year three. Nagging injuries have played some role in that but the reality is that James has yet to reach his potential and he may never get there. 2017 could be his last year in Miami as they are not likely to pick up the 5th year option on his contract.

Who they should have taken:

Brandin Cooks – WR – one pick later

Cooks turned into a very good wide-receiver with deep threat capability. The Patriots thought so highly of him that they traded a first round pick in this years draft to get him. Had Miami taken Cooks it’s hard to know if they still would have drafted Jarvis Landry in round two. Probably not so this one may be good in round one but bad in round two. They could also have drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who has seen a good start to his career and came off the board two picks after James.

2015: DeVante Parker –  14th overall

Parker has shown signs of becoming the player Miami was at one time very excited to draft. Nagging foot issues in his rookie season all but doomed his season and in 2016 he began to show signs of becoming the player Miami hopes he will be.

Who they should have taken:

Marcus Peters – CB – taken four picks later

Peters has been to the Pro-Bowl and voted first team all-pro. The Dolphins are still trying to sort out what they are doing at cornerback. Byron Maxwell was benched in 2016 before returning to a more serviceable consistent player. The trade for Maxwell would not have happened but the trade of the draft pick likely would have with another player replacing Maxwell and with Kueckly and possibly Matthews still on the roster, maybe Alonso isn’t involved either.

2016: Laremy Tunsil – 12th overall

No one expected the epic slide that Tunsil endured as the draft opened. From the video and images released only moments before the draft start, the one time popular choice to go number one overall watched while several teams opted for other offensive lineman.

Who the Dolphins should have taken:

Laremy Tunsil: Tunsil was a once in a franchise gift. For a team that was drafting outside of the top ten to land not only a top 10 project but arguably the top overall target was surreal. Tunsil played well at guard last season and now takes over the left tackle role. Hard to do better than that.


There is always, or at least most of the time a better option when you have the knowledge of the past in front of you. What is done is done and it can’t be undone but there are lessons to be learned from previous mistakes if those making the decisions are willing to acknowledge the mistake and then not repeat them.

This is all for fun and designed to make you think not about what could have been but more about the domino effect of changing one piece of the puzzle. Would the Dolphins have signed Chad Pennington with Matt Ryan a number one overall pick? Would the Dolphins have found the kind of success that kept Tony Sparano in his job? One falls and so does another until everything is changed.