There was a depressing statistic Dolphins people once used in order to explain the troubled state of the franchise.
During the makeover years of 2005-2007, folks that took the Dolphins' reins were confident they would give direction to a lost franchise. But they noted it would take time because they looked at what they had to work with and were horrified the shelves were bare. They looked back at the drafts from 2000 to the dates when they took over and lamented the failure of those drafts.
People like Nick Saban and Randy Mueller noted the lack of talent on hand because of bad drafting from 2000-2004.
The statistic they cited was that between 2000 and 2004 the Dolphins had managed to select only six players that were still on the roster, with only two of those players, Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael, becoming starters at that time.
So five years of drafting produced only two starters. Eventually a third starter would be added when Yeremiah Bell broke into the starting lineup, but the statistics were still sobering. Five drafts. Three starters.
Those folks running things from 2005-2007 blamed the struggles they were having, in part, on the drafts of 2000-2004. It was a fair criticism because for Saban and later Cam Cameron, the number of players that should have been coming into their primes as third, fourth, and fifth-year players were practically non-existant on the Dolphins.
That kept the Dolphins from competing with teams which had drafted well and did have a core of young veteran contributors.
Well, the problem with all of that is that neither Saban nor Mueller and Cameron were able to avoid the issues that plagued their predecessors. Saban and Mueller suffered from previous bad drafts. But then they also drafted poorly, leaving a new legacy of draft stinkage to the new administration
Neither Saban nor Mueller/Cameron could do excellent work although they had the second overall selection and high picks in rounds thereafter in 2005. They didn't do good work although they had three picks in the first two round in 2007.
And so today's Dolphins, a team that should be ripe with talent from the 2005, 2006, and 2007 drafts, are bereft of that core of young starters and contributors. Why?
Because the 2005, 2006, and 2007 drafts pretty much picked up where the 2000-2004 drafts left off. Consider:
The 2005 draft: Saban's first draft included Ronnie Brown, Matt Roth, Channing Crowder, Travis Daniels, Anthony Alabi and Kevin Vickerson. The Dolphins didn't have a sixth-round pick that year because that went to San Diego in exchange for David Boston. Well, only Brown, Crowder and Roth became starters and all of them showed flaws early and often. Brown couldn't stay healthy and although he's been able to do that recently, he is by no means a star -- something you expect from the draft's second overall pick. Brown is solid. And he's a free agent. There is absolutely no certainty his Dolphins career isn't over. Crowder? Ordinary. He gets his share of tackles, but as an inside linebacker always around the action, he rarely finds interceptions, or forces fumbles, or recovers fumbles or makes game-defining tackles. He's just ... there. Roth? He earned a starting job with the Dolphins in 2008 after languishing his first three seasons. And it seemed to be working, but then something crazy happened in 2009 and the Dolphins simply cut him. I'm sorry, but I don't blame Roth on that one. He lied to coach Tony Sparano about a groin injury. That was weird. Guess what? Other players have said and done worse and are still on the team. The strange thing is the Dolphins got zero for Roth, who was cut and immediately scooped up by Cleveland where he became a starter the past season-and-a-half.
So sum total of players still on the team: Crowder, with Brown a looming free agent. Sum total of starters: Two. Sum total of stars: 0.
The 2006 draft: Jason Allen was picked 16th overall, followed by Derek Hagan in the third round, Joe Toledo in the fourth, Manny Wright (via the supplemental draft) in the fifth, Fred Evans in the seventh, Rodrique Wright in the seventh and Devin Aromashodu in the seventh. The second round pick went to Minnesota for Daunte Culpepper, but that's another story. Allen was a bust from the beginning and the constant change of coaching staffs hurt him because everyone moved him from safety to corner and back again at least twice. It happened seven times in total. The most successful of those moves came in 2010 when Allen won a starting job at the dawn of the season. Sorry, that was not a statement of how great Allen was playing. It was a statement of how little choice the Dolphins had. Allen survived for half the season, then was benched, then was cut. He goes down as a first round bust. Hagan? He's still in the league but he never made it work in Miami, where he dropped passes, missed assignments and wasn't dynamic at all. Wright was a joke who cried his first practice. What a waste of talent. Toledo was looking good his first training camp then he broke a foot. Then he started recovering and broke it again getting out of the cold tub. Gone. Fred Evans showed tons of potential but he thought he had arrived when he hadn't. He started going out. He got drunk one night on South Beach. He got into a cab and threw up. He got arrested. Cam Cameron cut him two days later. Wright bounced from practice squad to active roster but never really factored. Aromashodu was cut in training camp.
So sum total of players still on the team: Zero. Sum total of starting players: Zero. Sum total of stars: Zero.
The 2007 draft: This was Mueller's one and only chance to run the draft. Looking back three years later, it was not good. Ted Ginn Jr was the ninth overall pick, John Beck went in the second round as did Samson Satele. Lorenzo Booker came in the third round, Paul Soliai came in the fourth, Reagan Mauia came in the sixth, Drew Mormino in the sxith, Kelvin Smith in the seventh along with Brandon Fields and Abraham Wright. Where to begin? Ginn was a reach. He is fast but hates contact and has no passion for football, which is problem because football is a contact sport that requires passion. Ginn was constantly seeking the sideline and often shrunk in big moments. He was a good return man, but those usually get drafted in the fourth or fifth rounds or come as undrafted free agents. It speaks volumes that Miami could only get a fifth rounder for Ginn when he was traded last offseason. Beck was like Ginn in the respect that the game seemed bigger than him. He played nervous. He looked overmatched. He was put in a position to fail by the Dolphins coaching staff and he did exactly that. Satele started right away and remained there for two seasons. He continues to start in Oakland. There was talent to work with there, but he wasn't big enough for the current administration. He was not a bad pick. Soliai and Fields are the lone remaining vestiges of that draft still on the roster and Soliai is expected to become a free agent.
So sum total of players still on the team: Two. Sum total of starters: Two. Sum total of stars: 0.
The bottom line?
Amazingly, Nick Saban's second draft was the worst of the bunch.
The 2005-2007 drafts have given today's Dolphins four players on the roster, all of which are starters but none of which are stars. Think about that.
These are guys that are in their fourth through sixth years of experience. These are guys ages 26 to 29. These are the drafts that should be forming the established, experienced, cornerstones of the franchise. These three drafts were supposed to be the ones that laid a new foundation after Dave Wannstedt. Instead they offered nothing in the way of stars and little in the numbers of starters.
Combine that with the 2000-2004 drafts that were a dry bones experience, you start to see why the Dolphins still have so much work to do. You start to see why a quick solution has not been possible.
This franchise went from 2000-2007 drafting in a manner that got people fired or replaced for whatever reason. And their drafts are a testament why that happened.