Revisiting Jake Long-Matt Ryan debate

March, 18, 2013
3/18/13
12:23
PM ET
It has been an ongoing debate in South Florida since the 2008 NFL draft.

The Miami Dolphins and former president Bill Parcells held the No. 1 overall pick and took left tackle Jake Long over quarterback Matt Ryan, who went to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 3. Miami chose a quarterback in the second round, which turned out to be Chad Henne.

Many questioned for years if Long and Henne were the way to go over Ryan, and Long's recent departure from Miami brings this debate back to the forefront. Combining Long's exit with Henne being a draft bust confirms the Dolphins made the wrong decision.

Long was an elite player in Miami during his first three years. However, his play and durability dropped significantly the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Ryan has been a franchise cornerstone in Atlanta his entire tenure and will have a long career.

Quarterback and left tackle are arguably the two most important positions on the field. But if you have to choose between the two, you always fill the bigger need at quarterback.

The Dolphins paid dearly for the Henne mistake. Former head coach Tony Sparano was fired in 2011, and Miami also had to take a quarterback in the first round in 2012 with Ryan Tannehill. None of that would have taken place had Miami selected Ryan over Long. Ryan is a franchise quarterback Miami could have built its team around. He's never had a losing season in Atlanta and already led the Falcons to four playoff appearances.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still trying to recover from their disastrous decisions in the 2008 draft. Long was the No. 1 overall pick and the final member of that draft class remaining on the Dolphins' roster -- and now he's gone.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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