The Miami Dolphins general manager, named to replace Jeff Ireland in January, will be overseeing his team’s NFL Draft beginning with Thursday night’s first round.
Ireland’s selections the past five years included both successes and notable disappointments, with the jury still out on many of the 18 players taken in 2012 and ’13.
Players such as tight end Michael Egnew (2012 third round), running back Lamar Miller (2012 fourth round), tackle Dallas Thomas (2013 third round) and TE Dion Sims (2013 fourth round) were among the recent draft picks who’ll be trying to prove their worth to Hickey, head coach Joe Philbin and the coaching staff.
2013: DE Dion Jordan, third overall (C) — Much had been expected of Jordan last season after the Dolphins traded up to select the pass rusher from Oregon. Hampered by a preseason shoulder injury, the 6-6, 266-pounder had two sacks in 16 games. He’ll be expected to make a much greater impact in 2014.
2012: QB Ryan Tannehill, eighth overall (B-) — The one-time college wide receiver has been the Dolphins starting QB the past two seasons. While he has offered glimpses of potential, Tannehill overall has not indicated he can be a "franchise" quarterback. Although lack of protection and a poor running game offered some excuses last season, he might have only this season to convince Hickey he’s the man.
2011: C Mike Pouncey, 15th overall (A-) — The former Florida Gators star earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season. As the only returning starter in 2014, the Dolphins are rebuilding the offensive line around Pouncey. His being implicated in the Ted Wells "bullygate" report likely means Miami will demand he stays focused on football and makes news only on the field.
2010: DE/DT Jared Odrick, 28th overall (A) — The Dolphins traded down (with San Diego) from the 12th overall pick and selected Odrick. The versatile former Penn State defensive tackle returned to his college position in 2013 and played well by compiling 42 tackles (33 solo) and 4.5 sacks.
2009: CB Vontae Davis, 25th overall (B) — Davis just signed a reported four-year, $39 million deal this offseason — but with Indianapolis. He was traded to the Colts in August 2012 for a second-round draft pick (CB Jamar Taylor) last year. Davis started 36 of 44 games for Miami in three seasons but the Dolphins sought an upgrade while ridding themselves of some off-field antics.
2012: T Jonathan Martin, second round, 42nd overall — Martin might establish himself as a starting NFL tackle, just not with Miami. His Dolphins legacy, once expected to be as LT Jake Long’s replacement, instead will start and end with the "bullygate" scandal. The former Stanford star was dealt in March to San Francisco to try and start fresh under his college coach, Jim Harbaugh.
2011: WR Clyde Gates, fourth round, 111th overall — The Abilene Christian star played one season with the Dolphins, mainly as a kick returner. He had two catches in 15 games (no starts) and was released by the Dolphins in August 2012. He has spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets.
2009: QB/WR Pat White, second round, 44th overall — Perhaps the most controversial of Ireland’s draft picks. After a stellar career at West Virginia, White was taken with a pick acquired from Washington in the Jason Taylor trade even though many scouts warned that he was too short and skinny for the NFL. The Dolphins chose him with the Wildcat formation in mind. White threw five passes without a completion, rushed 21 times for 81 yards in ’09 before suffering a concussion in Week 17. He was waived in September 2010.
2009: WR Patrick Turner, third round, 87th overall — Projected to go in the fifth round by many draft experts, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Turner had the Dolphins thinking he could blossom into a much-needed explosive receiver. Instead, the Southern California product got in two games as rookie with no receptions and was cut before the 2010 season. He played three seasons (2010-12) with the Jets.
LATE-ROUND SUCCESS STORIES
2012: WR Rishard Matthews, seventh round, 227th overall — The Dolphins traded down (with Tennessee) on draft day and selected Colin Kaepernick’s favorite receiver while at Nevada. After playing in eight games as rookie, Matthews proved to be valuable after injures sidelined Armon Binns and Brandon Gibson. He had 41 catches for 448 yards and two touchdowns.
2011: TE Charles Clay, sixth round, 174th overall — Miami traded up (with Green Bay) to get a player who seemed more suited to play H-Back. But after Dustin Keller suffered a season-ending injury during the 2013 preseason, Clay beat out Egnew and rookie Sims to earn the starting tight end role. He finished with 69 catches for 759 yards and six touchdowns.
2011: CB Jimmy Wilson, seventh round, 235th overall — Taken with a compensatory pick, Wilson has played in 46 games (eight starts) the past three seasons being used mostly in nickel packages. With free-agent acquisition Louis Delmas signing for just one year, Wilson’s time as a starter might be 2015. We’ll see.
2010: S Reshad Jones, fifth round, 163rd overall — Miami traded up (with Washington) and selected the safety from Georgia. Jones’ play earned a big contract extension before last season, which was subpar for him. The Dolphins will be expecting more big plays from him 2014.
2009: WR Brian Hartline, fourth round, 108th overall — The Dolphins used a pick acquired from Oakland (for C Samson Steele) to select the Ohio State product. Hartline developed into Tannehill’s favorite receiver last season, when he produced his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
2009: S Chris Clemons, fifth round, 165th overall — After trading down with Indianapolis, Miami took the safety from Clemson. Clemons started 46 games over the past four seasons in with the Dolphins. He signed with Houston as a free agent in March.
Ireland was let go first and foremost because the Dolphins didn’t win. A draft history which could be best described as mixed didn’t help.
While recent Dolphins drafts resulted in some quality late-round finds, it’s the early round picks that usually help build a playoff team. There, Ireland underwhelmed.
The breakdown of the past five drafts and how many players remain with the Dolphins is as follows:
Now, it’s up to Hickey to plug some glaring holes (e.g. offensive line) and get several players who can impact rather quickly. The clock is ticking.