Ask most general managers or NFL scouts and they’ll tell you that it usually takes about three years to be able to fully evaluate a draft. With that in mind, we take a look back to the 2008 NFL draft in which the Dolphins held the #1 overall selection.
Coming off of a rough 2007 season and with a new regime in town, the #1 overall pick was a selection that the Dolphins couldn’t afford to miss on. Needless to say, the Dolphins chose Jake Long with the pick, and he has been anything but a miss, having played three seasons, and making the Pro Bowl three times.
However, the pick of Jake Long at #1 wasn’t seen as a slam dunk in the weeks leading up to the 2008 draft. Other names that draft analysts tied to the Dolphins were Chris Long, Glenn Dorsey, Matt Ryan, and Vernon Gholston. When looking at those five players three years into their career, it’s quite the mixed bag: you have two instant stars (Jake & Ryan), one good but not great player (Chris Long),one average NFL player (Dorsey), and one complete bust (Gholston).
Let’s further analyze these five possible selections and illustrate how perception of these players has changed three years into their NFL careers:
- In 2008: Gholston was a workout warrior at the NFL Combine and thought to be an ideal fit as a pass-rusher in a 3-4 defense.
- In 2011: After being picked 6th by the Jets, Gholston was a complete disappointment and released by New York in March after failing to record a single sack in three years with the Jets.
- In 2008: Dorsey won pretty much every single award possible for a collegiate defensive player as he helped lead LSU to the 2007 National Championship. Dorsey was often compared to Warren Sapp as quick lineman capable of making game-changing plays.
- In 2011: Dorsey has started 46 of 48 possible games for the Chiefs in his three years, but has made very few impact plays, registering only four career sacks.
- In 2008: The son of NFL great Howie Long was regarded as a high-motor, all-around defender who registered 14 sacks in 2007. Many expected the Dolphins to take “other” Long, including Mike Mayock less than a week before the draft as you can see here.
- In 2011: Chris Long finally had a solid, productive 8 ½ sack season last year after beginning his career with a few seasons that had some Rams fans calling him a bust.
- In 2008: Ryan was widely regarded as the top QB in the draft class, but the lack of exceptional arm-strength and mobility had some questioning whether he would be more of a solid, game-managing quarterback than a “franchise” quarterback.
- In 2011: Ryan has put together three very good seasons for the Falcons and made his first Pro Bowl in 2010. Ryan was recently selected as the 52nd best player in the NFL by his peers as part of the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2011.
- In 2008: Jake was highly decorated tackle out of Michigan and was considered the consensus best tackle in the draft. Some analysts, though, thought he would be better suited to play right tackle.
- In 2011: Jake has made three Pro Bowls in three years and was named a first team All-Pro in 2010. Long has battled through several nagging injuries to start each and every one of the 49 games during his Dolphins career. Jake according to ProFootballFocus,was the top left tackle in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency in 2010. If the stats aren’t enough, Jake is expected to be announced as one of the Top 30 players in the NFL as selected by his peers as part of the aforementioned NFL Network countdown.
Many have had the debate since the ’08 draft as to which player they would rather have: Jake Long or Matt Ryan. It’s a complex debate to argue the merits of an elite left tackle versus a very good, but not elite (in my opinon) quarterback. This debate is sure to continue in the coming years, but the larger picture is the Dolphins hit a home run with Jake Long while three of the other five players thought to be in consideration for the #1 pick have proved themselves to not have been worthy of the selection three years into their NFL careers.
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