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Miami Dolphins: Best and worst draft picks


In the days leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, will allow users to determine the best and worst draft picks for every team. We continue the proceedings with the team that owns the No. 12 overall pick in this year's draft, the Miami Dolphins.

Top picks


Dan Marino -- 1983 (No. 27 overall)
It's a story that we all know -- Marino slid to the Dolphins at the end of the first round of the much-heralded 1983 draft, behind the likes of John Elway, Jim Kelly, Ken O'Brien, Tony Eason and Todd Blackledge. Over the next 17 seasons Marino emerged as one of the best QBs to have ever played the game, cemented a Hall of Fame spot, but never won a Super Bowl ... more about that later. Marino jerseys still out-number any other at Dolphins games 14 years after he retired.
» 1983 NFL Draft | Photos: Marino through the years


Larry Csonka -- 1968 (No. 8 overall)
Csonka blossomed under Don Shula and was one of the best-known characters of Miami's dominance in the early-1970s. However, it was Shula's predecessor as coach, George Wilson, and GM Joe Thomas -- the architect of their '70s Super Bowl teams -- who plucked Csonka from Syracuse in 1968. Csonka was the bell-cow back on Shula's teams, a feared running back who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
» 1968 NFL Draft | Photos: Csonka through the years


Zach Thomas -- 1996 (No. 154 overall)
Jimmy Johnson arrived in Miami with a reputation for finding gems in the draft -- something that was missing in Shula's latter years in Miami. His first draft produced DT Daryl Gardener in the first round, but will be best remembered for a fifth-round flyer on undersized LB Zach Thomas, who went on to become a Dolphins fan favorite through 12 years in Miami, making seven Pro Bowls and finishing his career with more tackles than all but four players in NFL history.
» 1996 NFL Draft


Jason Taylor -- 1997 (No. 73 overall)
One year after finding Thomas in the fifth round, Johnson unearthed defensive end Jason Taylor in the third. The two would go on to be the basis of a defense that was among the league's best for the next decade. Taylor was named NFL Defensive MVP in 2006, before being run out of town by Bill Parcells in 2008. Taylor returned, then left again for the Jets, then returned again, and finally retired as a Dolphin in 2012.
» 1997 NFL Draft | Photos: Taylor through the years


Dwight Stephenson -- 1980 (No. 48 overall)
Shula found center Dwight Stephenson in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft after a college career that led his coach at Alabama, Bear Bryant, to say he was the best player he ever coached. Stephenson developed into the anchor of an offensive line that gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL for six consecutive seasons from 1982 to 1987, until his career was cruelly cut short after a knee injury sustained against the Jets. Despite having such a short career, Stephenson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
» 1980 NFL Draft

Worst picks


John Bosa and Eric Kumerow -- 1987 (No. 16 overall), 1988 (No. 16 overall)
In the pre-free agency era when NFL teams were built exclusively through the draft, missing on a first-round pick was even more costly than it is today. When Don Shula did it in back-to-back drafts in 1986 and 1987 as he looked to develop a defense to complement the Dolphins' high-flying Dan Marino-led offense, he effectively doomed the franchise to constantly come up short when it counted in the playoffs. Both Bosa and Kumerow were drafted higher than their talent should have dictated, and neither player started a single game during three years as Dolphins. Pundits point to Marino's lack of Super Bowl rings and say he choked in the postseason. The truth is that Shula's poor drafting in Marino's early years led to his status as the eternal bridesmaid. I can't split Bosa and Kumerow, so you'll have to vote on it for me.
» 1987 NFL Draft | 1988 NFL Draft


John Avery -- 1998 (No. 29 overall)
Jimmy Johnson's reputation for being a draft guru produced the likes of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith from first round picks in Dallas. His time in Miami was less successful. The poster boy for his failure on this front has to be running back John Avery, an undersized back who lasted just two years before being tossed out with the trash into the XFL. Avery joins Cecil Collins and Karim Abdul-Jabbar as running backs who Johnson drafted -- and whiffed on -- to play the Emmitt Smith role for Miami.
» 1998 NFL Draft


Jamar Fletcher -- 2001 (No. 26 overall)
Almost two decades after drafting Marino, the Dolphins were back desperately searching for a quarterback two years after No. 13 retired. Picking 26th in the first round, Miami inexplicably reached for cornerback Jamar Fletcher -- despite having Pro Bowlers Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain on the roster -- allowing a QB named Drew Brees to slip through their fingers.
» 2001 NFL Draft


Ted Ginn Jr. -- 2007 (No. 9 overall)
The most recent of Miami's succession of draft busts is Ted Ginn, although we could easily toss in Ronnie Brown (2005), Jason Allen (2006) or even Jake Long (2008). Ginn arrived in Miami to much fanfare, with erstwhile coach Cam Cameron heralding not just Ginn's burning speed, but also Ginn's family, as reasons he was a can't-miss pick for the Dolphins. Three seasons later, he was given to the 49ers for a fifth-round pick. Ironically, the player Dolphins fans wanted in 2007 was QB Brady Quinn, who showed up on the Browns' list of draft busts. They could, however, have picked Darrelle Revis or Patrick Willis in Ginn's place.
» 2007 NFL Draft

Follow Henry Hodgson on Twitter @nflukhank

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