9. LB Zach Thomas
A fifth-round gem in the 1996 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins found a diamond in the rough in Texas A&M linebacker Zach Thomas. Thomas quickly ascended the depth chart and as a rookie, was named the starting middle linebacker. After a stellar rookie season in which Thomas produced 153 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 sacks, Thomas was named a Pro Bowl alternate and AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. In 1998, Thomas had another huge season, earning first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. From 1999-2003, Zach Thomas made the Pro Bowl every year and earned first-team All-Pro honors in three of those years. In 2006, Thomas recorded a career-high 165 tackles and was once again named first-team All-Pro. Zach Thomas finished his career in Miami with 1,640 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 17 interceptions and 65 pass defenses. In 2023, Zach Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
8. WR Paul Warfield
Paul Warfield was the 11th overall selection in the 1964 NFL Draft, chosen by the Cleveland Browns. For six years, Warfield was one of the best receivers in the league for the Browns -- until Don Shula made the phone call to acquire the receiver. In his first year as a Dolphin, Warfield caught 28 passes for 703 yards -- a whopping 25 yards per catch -- and earned second-team All-Pro honors. The next season, Warfield led the entire league in receiving touchdowns and was 4 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season en route to another Pro Bowl season. Even after missing two games in the 1972 season, Warfield still led the team in receiving as the Dolphins had a perfect season culminating in a Super Bowl win. In the '72 postseason, Warfield produced 149 yards receiving and 41 yards on the ground. In 1973, Warfield only caught 29 passes, but 11 of which were touchdowns, and again came up big in the postseason with 155 receiving yards as the Dolphins won their second straight Super Bowl. Again, he was named first-team All-Pro. Warfield made 7 straight Pro Bowls from 1968 to 1974. Paul Warfield is a member of both the Dolphins and Browns' Ring of Honor and was instrumental in the Dolphins Super Bowl run in the 1970's. And in 1983, Warfield was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
7. Center Jim Langer
A backup for the first two years of his career, Jim Langer finally got his opportunity when the starting center was dealt away in a trade in 1972. Langer took the starting center job and never looked back. In 1972, his first year as a starter, the Miami Dolphins won every single game and took home their first Lombardi trophy. In 1973, Langer earned second-team All-Pro honors as the Dolphins yet again reached the Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl, Langer led the team's rushing attack as Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, winning their second straight Super Bowl. From 1973 to 1978, Langer made the Pro Bowl every season and earned first-team All-Pro honors three times and second-team honors three times as well. In 1975, Langer was voted Miami Dolphins MVP. Langer was so good for so long that the NCAA Division II's best offensive lineman award is named after him. Langer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
6. Center Dwight Stephenson
Dwight Stephenson was Bear Bryant's favorite offensive lineman at Alabama and was drafted in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Late into the 1981 season, Stephenson was thrusted into the starting center role after the starter went down with injury. Dwight Stephenson never gave that job back. From 1982 to 1987, the Miami Dolphins had far and away the best offensive line in football, anchored by Stephenson. For six straight years, Miami gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL, allowing quarterback Dan Marino to sit back in the pocket and pick apart defenses.
Stephenson made the Pro Bowl five straight years, from 1983 to 1987 and made first-team All-Pro four straight years, from 1984 to 1987. Stephenson was even named AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year five straight seasons. In 1985, Stephenson was named NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year. However, in 1987, Stephenson's career was cut short in the middle of his prime as the center suffered a broken leg in a freak incident after an interception. Stephenson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.