The Miami Dolphins have had some of the greatest defenses in NFL history: the “No-Name Defense, the “Killer B’s” Defense, and the Zach Thomas-Jason Taylor led defense.
On those great defenses, there were many outstanding linebackers. I will try to rank the top 10 linebackers in Dolphins history including some honorable mentions.
Junior Seau, Karlos Dansby, Channing Crowder, Bob Matheson, Derrick Rodgers
Special Honorable Mention: Wahoo McDaniel
Wahoo played for the Miami Dolphins from 1966 to 1968. Over those 3 years he started only 14 games and he would then change careers. Wahoo is better known for his wrestling career and his feuds against Ric Flair.
Joey Porter 2007-09
Porter signed with the Dolphins in 2007 and stayed only 3 years. In those three years he had one monster year. In 2008 Porter recorded 17.5 sacks, made the Pro Bowl and the Dolphins won the AFC East with a 11-5 record. As an outside linebacker, he put a lot of pressure on opponents’ quarterbacks. He produced 32 sacks over the 3 seasons.
Mike Kolen 1970-77
Kolen was drafted by the Dolphins in the 12th round in 1970. He was a starting linebacker on the “No Name” Defense and his nickname was “Captain Crunch.” Kolen is ranked above Porter due to his longer tenure with the team and helping the Dolphins win two Super Bowls.
Kim Bokamper 1977-85
Bokamper was drafted 19th overall by the Dolphins in 1977 and a member of the “Killer B’s” defense. He was selected as a Pro Bowl linebacker for one season in 1979. However, he only played linebacker for 4 years for the Dolphins and played defensive end for the rest of his career, which is why he is not placed higher on the list. Bokamper after he retired entered broadcasting and opened the restaurants named “Bokampers.”
Bob Brudzinski 1981-89
Brudzinski was initially drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the first round in 1977, but became a Dolphin in 1981 through a trade. He is another member of the “Killer B’s” defense. Brudzinski would stay with the Dolphins until 1989, starting 94 games during that time. He is one of the 50 greatest Dolphins of all-time.
Larry Gordon 1976-82
The Dolphins drafted Gordon in the first round in 1976 and started at linebacker for the Dolphins his entire career. He consistently made plays for the Dolphins defense and was part of the Super Bowl XVII team, when he played his last game. Unfortunately, he died in 1983 while jogging in Arizona.
Bryan Cox 1991-95
The Dolphins drafted Cox in the 5th round in the 1991 NFL Draft. He’s remembered for his unorthodox head rest and fueling the rivalry with the Buffalo Bills during the 1990s by sticking both of his middle fingers up to the Buffalo crowd in a game in 1993. He went to Pro Bowl three times and made the All-Pro Team three times. Cox made a lot of tackles in the run game and was also able to get to the quarterback.
A.J. Duhe 1977-84
The Dolphins drafted Duhe 13th overall in 1977 and is another member of the “Killer B’s” defense. Over his career he made one Pro Bowl in 1984 and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1977. He started his career as a defensive end and had the ability to get to the quarterback, but ended his career at the inside linebacker position. As an inside linebacker, Duhe led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 1982 with three interceptions in the AFC Championship game against the Jets.
John Offerdahl 1986-93
The Dolphins selected Offerdahl in the 2nd round in the 1986 Draft and he became an immediate starter. In his rookie year he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and received an invite to the Pro Bowl. He would return to the Pro Bowl the next four seasons, making him a five- time NFL Pro Bowler. Unfortunately, injuries plagued his next few seasons, and he eventually retired. Could he have been the greatest Dolphins linebacker or one of the greatest of all time if he stayed healthy? Perhaps.
Nick Buoniconti 1969-74, 76
He was only 5’11” but a fierce competitor, who played hard every play. Buoniconti was the middle linebacker for the “No-Name Defense,” which helped the Dolphins go undefeated in 1972. He was a two-time NFL Pro Bowler and elected into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001. His name graces the Dolphins’ Honor Roll and is one of the 50 greatest Dolphins of all-time. Most importantly he was a leader of the Super Bowl winning teams of the 1970s.
Zach Thomas 1996-2007
The Dolphins drafted Thomas in the 5th round in the 1996 Draft and he excelled immediately, causing Coach Jimmy Johnson to release Pro Bowler Jack Del Rio. He would claim the starting middle linebacker position and would be the leader of the Dolphins defense for 12 years. His longevity of excellence is the reason he is the number one linebacker in Dolphins history. He was a seven time Pro Bowler, five time First Team All-Pro, two-time Second Team All-Pro and should be a future Hall of Famer.