5 best Dolphins draft picks not selected in first round

Dolphins without selections in third, fourth rounds
Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor carried off field after final game, Jan. 1, 2012
Posted at 9:33 AM, Apr 26, 2024

The Miami Dolphins addressed a position of need in the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft, selecting Penn State defensive end Chop Robinson with the No. 21 overall pick.

Miami has the 55th overall pick in the second round, but the Dolphins don't pick again until late in the fifth round.

The Dolphins had to forfeit their third-round pick in this year's draft as punishment for "tampering violations" when owner Stephen Ross tried to pursue quarterback Tom Brady.

They traded their fourth-round pick to the Denver Broncos in 2022 for linebacker Bradley Chubb and a 2025 fifth-round pick.

More than 100 players — 103 to be exact — will be off the board when the Dolphins select their next player at No. 158.

Dolphins 2024 Draft Positions

FirstNo. 21Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State
SecondNo. 55
FourthNo. 121Traded to Broncos
FifthNo. 158
SixthNo. 184Acquired from Bears
SixthNo. 198
SeventhNo. 241

Here is a look at five players who were arguably the greatest acquisitions by the Dolphins outside of the first round.

Dwight Stephenson

Position: Center

School: Alabama

Pick: No. 48 overall in 1980 draft (second round)

Seasons: 1980-87

Miami Dolphins center Dwight Stephenson and QB Dan Marino in 1987
Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino falls on the football after losing it against the Chicago Bears, Aug. 17, 1987, at Joe Robbie Stadium. Marino suffered a dislocated finger during the play. Dolphins center Dwight Stephenson turns to help recover the ball.

Dwight Stephenson was arguably the greatest center to wear a Dolphins uniform.

The second-round draft pick from Alabama spent eight seasons with the Dolphins and was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls. Stephenson was also durable, playing in 107 straight games and starting 80 consecutive games until the 1987 players strike ended the streak. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was part of an offensive line that gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL for a record six straight seasons (1982-87).

Stephenson returned after the strike and started seven straight games before suffering a knee injury that ultimately ended his NFL career.

Mark Duper

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Northwestern State

Pick: No. 52 overall in 1982 draft (second round)

Seasons: 1982-92

Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Duper looks over his shoulder on his way to end zone in 1992
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Duper looks over his shoulder at the slower moving Los Angeles Raiders defense after he caught a 62-yard Dan Marino pass for a touchdown, Dec. 15, 1992, at Joe Robbie Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 20-7.

Mark Duper spent all 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Dolphins.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection had his best season catching footballs from future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino in 1984, when he hauled in 71 receptions for 1,306 yards and eight touchdowns. He eclipsed his season-high in receiving yards (1,313) and touchdowns (11) in 1986, despite tallying four fewer catches (67). Duper managed four seasons of 1,000 yards or more — his last in 1991 at 32.

Duper was released before the 1992 season as Miami's all-time leader in receiving yards (8,869) — a record he still owns today.

Mark Clayton

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Louisville

Pick: No. 223 overall in 1983 draft (eighth round)

Seasons: 1983-92

Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Clayton scores TD in playoff win against Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 5, 1991
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Clayton scores a touchdown after catching a Dan Marino pass in the fourth quarter of an AFC wild-card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Jan. 5, 1991, at Joe Robbie Stadium. The touchdown clinched the game for Miami 17-16.

Mark Clayton is the other half of the "Marks Brothers" wide receiver tandem. The five-time Pro Bowl receiver spent his rookie season as the team's primary punt returner, but by 1984 he was a bona fide star.

Clayton spent 10 of his 11 NFL seasons with the Dolphins and twice finished as the NFL's receiving touchdowns leader (18 in 1984 and 14 in 1988). The former eighth-round pick (the draft was shortened to seven rounds in 1994) holds team records for career receptions (550) and touchdowns (81) and owns the single-season record for receiving yards (1,389 in 1984).

He was released after the 1992 season and spent the next year with the Green Bay Packers, catching passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, before retiring.

Fittingly, Clayton and Duper were inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll together in 2003.

Zach Thomas

Position: Linebacker

School: Texas Tech

Pick: No. 154 overall in 1996 draft (fifth round)

Seasons: 1996-2007

New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon and Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, Oct. 8, 2006
New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon rushes past Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas as he picks up a first down during the second quarter of a game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006, in Foxborough, Mass.

Zach Thomas spent the first 12 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Dolphins.

The fifth-round draft pick from Texas Tech was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and had an immediate impact, beating out veteran Jack Del Rio for the starting middle linebacker job during training camp and finishing his rookie season with 153 combined tackles, three interceptions and two sacks.

Thomas twice finished as the NFL's tackles leader after the 2002 and 2006 seasons. By the time Miami released him after the 2007 season, Thomas had started 168 games, recorded 1,640 tackles (1,042 solo), 19.5 sacks, 70 tackles for loss, 16 forced fumbles, 17 interceptions and four touchdowns. Thomas, who was finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, spent the 2008 season in his home state with the Dallas Cowboys before signing a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Dolphins.

Only two linebackers in the Hall of Fame (Ray Lewis and Junior Seau) have more combined total tackles than Thomas (1,720).

Jason Taylor

Position: Defensive End

School: Akron

Pick: No. 73 in 1997 draft (third round)

Seasons: 1997-2007 | 2009 | 2011

Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor celebrates after sacking Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, Dec. 11, 2011
Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jason Taylor celebrates after sacking Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick during the first half of a game Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Jason Taylor established himself as one of the premiere NFL defensive ends of his era. Taylor became a starter in his rookie season, recording five sacks and two forced fumbles.

During his three stints with the Dolphins, the third-round draft pick not only amassed plenty of tackles, but also plenty of accolades. Taylor was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, the 2002 NFL sacks leader and the 2006 NFL defensive player of the year.

After being traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008, Taylor returned to Miami in 2009. He spent the 2010 season playing for the New York Jets — a divisional rival — before signing with the Dolphins again in 2011. Taylor currently holds the NFL record for most career fumbles returned for touchdowns (eight).

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, Taylor was also inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll with teammate Thomas in 2012.