Last April the Dolphins used the first pick of the draft to select Jake Long. The New York Jets used their first round pick, the sixth pick overall, to select outside linebacker Vernon Gholston.
While Long has come pretty much as advertised so far and will start at offensive left tackle for Miami in the regular-season opener, Gholston has not quite started so fast. In fact, he's been awful.
I had Michael Lombardi, a 20-year NFL personnel man with Oakland, Cleveland and other teams, on my radio show over the weekend. First of all, he doesn't think the Jets are going to be very good at all. He picked them fourth in the AFC East, behind New England, Buffalo and Miami.
And he hates Gholston.
This is what Lombardi wrote in the National Football Post after the Jets preseason finale against Philadelphia.
"I watched Gholston last night and he is not playing well right now. What is most alarming is his inability to come off the blocks without explosison or to play the game with any physicality. Coming out of college, he did not, in my opinion, have one-step quickness. he has to run his feet to generate power -- much like a boxer who needs to "wind up" to throw a punch. Gholston is a poor rusher, playing right into the lineman. As a dropper, he has no chance. If he is in coverage, he is a HUGE liability. The question the Jets should be asking themselves is, 'How are we going to dress him on Sunday?' He is not a special teams player and won't be on the field as a rusher with the defense. Difficult to imagine drafting aplayer with the sixth overall, he is not a quarterback, and he does not offer any help on Sunday."
Long, meanwhile, has met every expectation of the Dolphins coaching staff. He still needs to improve his technique but coaches are riding him hard to get that done. Head coach Tony Sparano, in particular, has been spending time with Long to get him better as quickly as possible.
He is not a Pro Bowl player now. But with some experience and some improved technique and some time, he has the makings. The Dolphins believe they hit paydirt with the guy.
The Jets with Gholston? Not so much.
5 p.m. update: The Dolphins are about to announce the cutting of cornerback Joey Thomas and the signing of safety Tyrone Culver. The team also will cut Jayson Foster off the practice squad and add nose tackle Anthony Toribio. Culver was waived by the Packers when the team cut to 53 players.