1999: Power play unfolds
The Dolphins had spent the weeks prior to the draft adding bulk and power to the offensive side of the football, and they bulled ahead toward that goal with each pick they made Saturday, taking two bruising running backs and an offensive lineman with a reputation for nastiness.
J.J. Johnson with the ninth pick of the second round (39th overall) and 6-3, 260-pound Syracuse fullback Rob Konrad with the 14th pick in the second (43rd overall). Then they added 6-4, 304-pound Arizona State center Grey Ruegamer in the third round.
"We should have a power game," Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said. "That's going to be part of the emphasis."
The need to improve the power game was obvious as the Dolphins struggled throughout last year in short-yardage situations.
So in the offseason, they have added 330-pound guard Kevin Gogan, 250-pound fullback Roosevelt Potts, 235-pound running back Tyrone Wheatley and 275-pound blocking tight end Hunter Goodwin.
Johnson came into the draft wanting to upgrade the running back position and targeted former University of Miami running back Edgerrin James.
But his efforts to trade up were stymied and James was taken by Indianapolis with the fourth overall pick.
"We said, `Well, we'll pursue every avenue to try to move up for Edgerrin James,'" Johnson said. "We felt like that he was a special back and we really looked at everyone else up there and we really said that other than that one player, that would be the only player that we'd try to go up and get. ... We checked with every team and really didn't have enough ammunition to go up that high to do the deal."
That left Johnson and Konrad as the top two running backs on the Dolphins' board, and the Dolphins felt they could get one or the other by trading out of the 24th pick of the first round.
First, the Dolphins traded the 24th pick to San Francisco for the 49ers' first- (27th overall) and fifth-round (134th) picks.
The Dolphins then traded the 27th pick to Detroit for the Lions' picks in the second (39th), third (70th) and fifth (142nd) rounds.
"As we made the trade I heard about three or four groans back behind me," Johnson said. "Some of our scouts were saying, `Oh no, we're going to lose him' because we just didn't think Johnson would last until 39."
Nervous they might miss out on Johnson, the Dolphins contacted six teams ahead of them in the second round in an effort to move back up and ensure themselves of getting Johnson.
"We got to thinking maybe we didn't do what was right and we were a little hasty on the trade," Johnson said. "We were sweating it out as far as getting him at 39."
Unable to move back up, the Dolphins started feeling more confident about getting Johnson as the teams ahead of them stayed away from picking a running back.
So the Dolphins were able to get Johnson with the 39th pick, making him the first running back taken since Ricky Williams went to New Orleans with the fifth overall pick.
"For the last three or four days, James Johnson was the guy we were going to take," Johnson said.
The Dolphins then had enough ammunition to trade up to get Konrad, giving Kansas City their second-round pick (54th overall), their third-round pick (84th overall) and a No. 6 in next year's draft to move up to the 43rd pick in the second round.
"I think Konrad is a great addition," Johnson said. "He's the type of player that will be a quality player for the Dolphins for years to come. He's a safe pick, very smart, a quality individual and he's going to make a contribution to our team in a lot of ways."