One of my favorite AFC East readers, Hot Sauce Steve, asked an interesting question in the blog today.
He writes: "James, here is another good topic from another article. How bad does taking Jake Long over Matt Ryan look now? We were pilloried for it. Jake is about to extend, Ryan looks like he has maxed out at zero playoff wins and they might have to find another or build a team that can carry him."
James Walker: It's a tough question, Steve. The Miami Dolphins took Long No. 1 overall and also considered Ryan, who went third to the Atlanta Falcons. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas has an interesting piece on Ryan not fulfilling his potential in Atlanta. The case for Miami is that Long is arguably the best left tackle in football. If not, Long is in the top two or three at his position. The same cannot be said about Ryan, who is maybe a top-10 or top-12 quarterback. But Ryan certainly is not the best quarterback in the NFL. From that standpoint, Miami drafted the better prospect. However, the case against Miami is that the quarterback position is so important. Getting a top-10 quarterback makes a huge difference. The Dolphins took Chad Henne in the second round after passing over Ryan, and we saw how that worked out. Miami is still looking for a franchise quarterback (Ryan Tannehill?) four years later. Meanwhile, the Falcons have not had a losing season under Ryan and have been to the playoffs three of his four years. In contrast, Miami has had three losing seasons and been to the playoffs just once in the span, during Long's rookie year. Although Long is the better player relative to his position, I think drafting Ryan would have made a bigger impact for Miami's franchise. The Dolphins would have won more games and probably saved Tony Sparano's job by having a top-10 quarterback on the roster. Long has more than done his job at left tackle, but he cannot make that type of impact.
So that's my take. Now let's hear yours.
Feel free to cast your vote. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.