A Look at Dolphins Draft History Post Shula
Much as been made about Jeff Ireland's poor job as a general manager. But let's take a look at where this franchise was from a draft perspective before Ireland assume full responsibility of the draft and after Shula retired.
The Jimmy Johnson Days
While Jimmy was the head coach of the Dolphins, he selected 44 players. Here is a list.
Out of those 44 players, 4 went on to become what you could consider franchise players. Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. That's a 9% success ratio.
Out of those 44, 6 went on to become legitimate starters with playmaking potential. Thats a 13.6% success ratio.
Out of those 44, 31 could be considered failed picks. Players that amounted to nothing or very little... even busts. Thats a 70% failure ratio.
Jimmy had 3 first round picks in his time with Miami. 2 of them were busts (Yatil Green and John Avery) and the other had his career shortened by injuries (Daryl Gardner).
Jimmy's approach was to acquire as many picks as possible and hope to get a few hits. And he did get a few hits, but very few. During his time in Miami, he drafted very poorly.
The Dave Wannstedt Days
Dave Wannstedt was responsible for 35 draft picks. Here is a list:
Out of those 35, 2 played in a Pro Bowl (Yeremiah Bell, Chris Chambers) - 5.7% success rate. Wannstedt drafted two players in the first round. One was a complete bust (Jamar Fletcher) and the other one was serviceable (Vernon Carey).
Out of those 35, 8 were serviceable, 22.8% success rate.
Out of those 35, 26 were busts or contributed very little to the Dolphins. 74% failure.
The Nick Saban Days
Nick Saban selected 11 draft picks during his short tenure with the Dolphins. Here is a list:
His two first round picks were Jason Allen (bust) and Ronnie Brown (decent career with the Dolphins). Ronnie Brown made 1 Pro Bowl. No other player made a Pro Bowl from these draft classes.
4 players in these draft classes turned out to be serviceable (Ronnie Brown, Matt Roth, Channing Crowder, Travis Daniels). But none of them turned out to be anything special over the long haul. Saban's second draft was a complete failure.
63% of Saban's picks were busts or contributed very little.
The Randy Mueller Days
Randy Mueller was the GM of the Dolphins during Cam Cameron's tenure as head coach. For a long time, the Dolphins had a Head Coach calling all the shots and decided to move to a more divided approach in which the GM and Coach were at the same level. Here is what that 2007 draft yielded.
Ted Ginn Jr.
1 Pro Bowler yielded in Paul Soliai. Samson Satele didn't last long with the Dolphins, although he's had a long NFL career, playing for Oakland and Indianapolis. Brandon Fields has been a top punter, but not much else came from this draft class. Success rate of 18%. Failure rate of 63%. Ted Ginn was a bust with the Dolphins. John Beck was a bust instead of the QB of the future.
The Jeff Ireland Days
I always put an asterisk when I say the Jeff Ireland days, because Bill Parcells actually had final say on personnel moves from 2008 to 2010. Additionally, it is too early to judge some of his picks as typically you want to wait 3 years before doing so.
Here is a list of the players drafted under Ireland's watch, excluding players selected in 2012 and 2013:
32 players drafted from 2008 to 2011. Of those 32, 2 of them have been selected to the Pro Bowl at some point (Jake Long and Mike Pouncey). 6% success rate.
None of the picks taken in the 1st round (Jake Long, Vontae Davis, Jared Odrick, Mike Pouncey) are players you would consider busts. The same can't be said about previous regimes.
Of the 32 picks selected, 16 have been complete busts or contributed little. That's a 50% failure rate, or a 50% success rate.
If you throw in 2012, 9 players were selected. 5 of those players remain with the team, 4 of them being significant contributors (Tannehill, Vernon, Miller, Matthews).
Let's do a recap.
Pro Bowl Success Rate
Jimmy Johnson - 9%
Dave Wannstedt - 5.7%
Nick Saban - 9%
Randy Mueller - 10%
Jeff Ireland - 6%
Jimmy Johnson - 70%
Dave Wannstedt - 74%
Nick Saban - 63%
Randy Mueller - 63%
Jeff Ireland - 50%
Contributor Success Rate
Jimmy Johnson - 13.6%
Dave Wannstedt - 22.8%
Nick Saban - 36%
Randy Mueller - 18%
Jeff Ireland - 50%
Synopsis: As much criticism as Jeff Ireland receives for this drafts, he has had a higher success rate than any other person selecting players post-Shula. Also, remembering Shula's last few years, he probably has a higher success rate than even Shula did during that time.
Jeff Ireland gets a lot of criticism, some of it probably deserved. But the results he has yielded from a draft perspective seem to be better than anything else we've seen in a while. He hasn't missed on 1st round picks, even if they haven't turned into elite players and he's hit on a few late round picks where previous GMs missed on them way too often. Yes, he has had some ugly misses like Pat White and Chad Henne, and hindsight being 20/20, we'd all take Matt Ryan over Jake Long now. But if you look at where this team was headed during the Wannstedt years and where it culminated with in 2007, this was a roster bereft of talent. Now, it is a roster with enough talent to compete for the playoffs.
This is not an argument for keeping Jeff Ireland around. Just a reminder of where this franchise has come from to where it is from a talent evaluation perspective.