Zach Thomas is heaping praise on the 2007 Dolphin draft class. He’s excited about the speed of Ted Ginn Jr. and Lorenzo Booker and likes John Beck’s promise. Thomas has been critical of past drafts – how can he not be?
“That’s the reason we’re in the position that we are,” Thomas said.
"It hasn't just been for the last couple of years," said Thomas, who doesn't normally praise draft classes. "It's been a long time."
And he’s absolutely right.
Consider all that’s happened prior to this season’s draft. This franchise continually squandered draft picks for shit-kicking players in recent seasons. They gave away a total of five first-day picks for mediocre players like AJ Feeley and flakey players like Ricky Williams.
When the Dolphins traded for Ricky Williams in 2002, they gave the New Orleans Saints two first-round picks. The Saints turned the first pick into Pro Bowl DE Charles Grant. Instead of Williams and his love of all things hemp and yoga, the Dolphins could’ve kept that pick and had a shot at a plethora of Pro Bowlers like cornerback Lito Sheppard, center Andre Gurode, or runningback Clinton Portis. The Saints traded away the second first-rounder they got for Williams. But had the Dolphins kept that pick, they would’ve had a shot at none other than Larry Johnson, who fell to the Chiefs at No. 27 in the 2003 draft (Miami would’ve had the 17th overall pick). In 2004, the Dolphins gave the Philadelphia Eagles their second round pick of the ’05 draft for AJ Feeley. The Eagles turned that pick into speedy and talented wide receiver Reggie Brown.
Think about it. The Dolphins could’ve had Larry Johnson at running back and Reggie Brown at receiver. This means they could’ve spent their first-round 2005 pick on someone like Shawn Merriman or Demarcus Ware or Jammal Brown, instead of on Ronnie Brown. And it also means they could’ve been more conservative with this year’s draft, instead of taking a risk with Ted Ginn at No. 9 because of their lack of play-makers on offense.
It’s all hindsight and conjecture, of course. But the possibilities are all there. The lesson, of course, is that you don’t squander first-day draft picks for rent-a-players and freaks.
That mindset seems to be changing with the new regime. The Dolphins are putting a premium on draft picks and youth. So far Zach approves.
And that means a lot.