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From the FanPosts. Awesome. -Joel
When was the last time the #1 pick wasn't used on a QB? Dolphins 2008 Draft. How did that work out for them?
Case Study: Dolphins
In 2006 the QB combination of Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, and Cleo Lemon carried the Dolphins to a 6-10 conclusion. Change was coming. Nick Saban left for Alabama and Cam Cameron, the former OC for the Chargers came in and cleaned house. Twelve coaches were either hired or reassigned, and the roster went through a cleansing with over a dozen players coming or going.
The 2007 NFL draft saw JaMarcus Russell bust onto the stage with the #1 overall pick and cement himself in NFL history as THE warning of picking a QB with work ethic issues. Other teams found value right behind with Megatron and Joe Thomas going to Detroit and Cleveland. Picking ninth, the Dolphins took Ted Ginn Jr., the WR from Ohio State. The second QB taken, Brady Quinn, went to Cleveland with the #22 pick.
With the unenviable QB combination of Cleo Lemons, Trent Green, and John Beck (rookie) the 2007 Dolphins failed to win a game until December 16, the third to last game of the season. It would be their only win that year. Green was 0-5, Lemon was 1-6, and Beck was 0-4. None of the quarterback options showed any sign of future success, with only the veteran Green completing just over 60% of his passes. Lemon and Beck barely managed 56%. After ending the season 1-15, the Dolphins had at least won the right to the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
2008 was the Year of the Tuna. Bill Parcells was hired as Executive VP of Football Operations (ExVPoFO) with Jeff Ireland as GM. They wasted no time in once again cleaning house.
Cam Cameron was fired and Tony Sparano was installed as the new Head Coach. Along with the departure of many coaches, two franchise cornerstones were out. Linebacker Zach Thomas was released and Defensive End Jason Taylor was traded. QBs Green and Lemon were out and Beck was the erstwhile starter.
The 2008 draft will go down as a critical draft for the Dolphins. With no starting caliber QB on the roster, there is an obvious hole that needs to be filled. Rather than select a QB, the Dolphins begin contract negotiations with LT Jake Long, offering him a contract less than previous #1 pick JaMarcus Russell and with a deadline to accept before the draft. Long did sign the contract for 57.75 million (30 mil guaranteed), and the Dolphins passed on the QB position until the second round again. Matt Ryan (#3) and Joe Flacco (#18) were taken round 1. The Dolphins had two 2nd round picks, the 2nd of which they used on Chad Henne (#57).
The Dolphins ended the draft with a "can't miss" LT and a 2nd round QB with arguably 1st round talent. In early August, they sign Chad Pennington after he was released by the Jets. He won the starting job over Henne and Beck.
Pennington went on to start all 16 games of the 2008 season, compiling a record of 11-6. Completing 67.4% of his passes for 3653 yards, 19 TD, 7 INT, 3 FUM, he found a chemistry with his WRs, RBs, and TEs.
After finishing 11-5, the Dolphins are picking 25th in the 2009 draft. With all signs pointing to future success, they can select BPA and build depth. QB depth is addressed with pick #44 and Pat White, the QB/WR/RB from West Virginia, possessing intriguing athletic skills. It was hoped that they could build up his QB skills.
The 2009 NFL season was on its third game when disaster struck. Pennington went down for the season, injuring his surgically repaired shoulder again. Chad Henne took over and the team struggled to a 7-9 record. Henne finished completing 60.8% of his passes for 2878 yards, 12TDs, 14 INT, and 4 Fumbles.
After a mediocre finish, the Dolphins end up with the 12th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, which they end up trading to the Chargers. They didn't draft any QBs this year, heading into camp with a repaired Pennington and an adequate backup/potential starter in Henne.
The nightmare of the 2010 took only one series to materialize. Pennington suffered another shoulder injury. This one effectively ended his career. Henne was up. The results were about the same as the year before; a 7-9 record.
With the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dolphins once again pass on QBs. Newton, Locker, Gabbert, and Ponder are all selected before they pick. Dalton and Kaepernick were picked after.
The Dolphins opted to sign Matt Moore to backup Henne and roll into the 2011 season with the same QB that had gone 7-9 the previous two seasons. Four games into the season, Henne goes down with a shoulder injury and Moore is starting. The season ends in mediocrity again at 6-10. They'll be picking 8th in the 2012 NFL Draft.
It's been four years since the Dolphins fateful 2008 draft when they last had a top-10 pick. What have they done? Jake Long, excellent LT. Chad Henne, average backup QB. The only success the team had over the last four years was the single injury free season from Chad Pennington. Matt Ryan, franchise QB for Atlanta. Joe Flacco, somewhat embattled starter (above average but not elite).
It doesn't seem fair that a team struggles and struggles to get better only to manage average because they aren't blessed with a franchise QB. What's worse is that because they are average, they seldom get a chance for the true franchise level QBs often taken #1 overall. In contrast other teams have a history of success with a QB and during their one down year, they "suck for Luck" and get another franchise QB to hand the reins to.
In 2012 the Dolphins have a chance at the leftovers if not the main course. With the 8th overall pick they select QB Ryan Tannehill. In the 2nd round they select OT Jonathan Martin.
Tannehill goes on to start all 16 games of the 2012 season, compiling a record of...7-9. Although there is still a great deal of support for his future development, his early returns are very similar to Henne. Completes 58.3%, 3294 yards, 12 TDs, 13 INT, 9 Fumbles.
The Dolphins once again pick 12th.
What lessons can be learned from this?
1. Opportunity cost is a bitch. Get the QB when you've got the chance. Even if you swing and miss, the chance of long term success is still better.
2. "Suck for Luck" is under-utilized in the NFL. I'm not saying I'd advocate losing on purpose, but there is a definite incentive to get the top picks, especially with the new wage scale.
3. LTs don't win games. Good QBs do. Complete 67%, don't turn the ball over. That's a winning QB right there.
4. A good backup QB can win half his games.
5. Get a good backup AFTER you get a winning starter or you'll never get the chance to pick a winner.
What lessons did I miss?