More than a week ago, the Miami Dolphins made a pick they hope will be a mainstay on the interior of the defensive line with the selection of Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins with the 13th overall pick.
In more than 50 years as a franchise, the Dolphins have selected a defensive lineman in the first round on a somewhat frequent basis. Like with any selection, not all of those have worked out, but many have.
Here’s a look back on the five best defensive linemen selected by the Dolphins in the first round:
5. Daryl Gardener, DT
Selected: 20th overall in 1996 (Baylor)
Years Played in Miami: 1996-2001
Career Miami Stats: 252 tackles, 21 TFL, 15 sacks, 3 FF, INT
Accomplishments: 1996 NFL All-Rookie Team
For six years, Daryl Gardener was a mainstay at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins. Gardener played largely in the shadows of the likes of Tim Bowens and Jason Taylor, but was an important piece nonetheless. In his first four seasons with the Dolphins, Gardener didn’t miss a single game and started all but four contests.
4. Marco Coleman, DE/LB*
Selected: 12th overall in 1992 (Georgia Tech)
Years Played in Miami: 1992-95
Career Miami Stats: 226 tackles, 24 sacks, 6 FF
Accomplishments: 1992 NFL All-Rookie Team
Marco Coleman gets an asterisk by his name since he was drafted as an outside linebacker, but Coleman transitioned to defensive end late in his rookie season and stayed there for the remainder of his time in Miami. Coleman recorded at least 5.5 sacks in each of his four seasons with the Dolphins and recorded six career forced fumbles. Coleman’s 24 sacks with Miami ranks 11th in team history.
3. A.J. Duhe, DE/LB*
Selected: 13th overall in 1977 (LSU)
Years Played in Miami: 1977-84
Career Miami Stats: 8.5 sacks, 6 FR, 3 INT
Accomplishments: 1977 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl (1984), First-Team All-Pro (1981), Second-Team All-Pro (1983)
Like Coleman, A.J. Duhe gets an asterisk. Duhe was drafted as a defensive end, but spent the majority of his career as a linebacker. Duhe made the switch in his third season of 1979. Since defensive statistics weren’t kept the way they are now for the majority of Duhe’s career, it’s hard to quantify how good he was numbers-wise. Still, Duhe was one of the known faces for a very good Dolphins defense in the late-1970s and early 80s. Although he recorded just three career interceptions during the regular season in his career, he’ll always be known best for snagging three interceptions and returning one for a score in a 14-0 victory over the New York Jets in the 1982 AFC Championship.
2. Tim Bowens, DT
Selected: 20th overall in 1994 (Ole Miss)
Years Played in Miami: 1994-2004
Career Miami Stats: 407 tackles, 26 TFL, 22 sacks, 9 FF, 5 FR, INT, TD
Accomplishments: 1994 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl (1998, 2002) Second-Team All-Pro (1994)
For more than a decade, Tim Bowens clogged the middle of the defensive line for the Miami Dolphins. A 2-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1994 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Bowens missed just five games in his first 10 years with the Dolphins before an injury-plagued 2004 season ultimately capped his career. With 22 in his career, Bowens ranks second in Dolphins history for sacks by a defensive tackle behind only Randy Starks.
1. Bill Stanfill, DE
Selected: 11th overall in 1969 (Georgia)
Years Played in Miami: 1969-76
Career Miami Stats: 8 FR, 2 INT, 2 TD
Accomplishments: Pro Bowl (1969, 1971-74), First-Team All-Pro (1972)
Much like Duhe, there weren’t statistics kept during Bill Stanfill’s career that would do him justice. In eight NFL seasons, Stanfill was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and was an All-Pro in 1972 during Miami’s first championship season — one in which they didn’t lose a game. The 1968 Outland Trophy winner was a key member of the “No Name Defense”. Although he died in 2016, there is hope that one day Stanfill will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mike Ferguson is the founder of Days of Dolphins Past. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.