Al Golden's Best Legacy: Returning Miami Hurricanes to the First Round of the NFL Draft

Al Golden's Best Legacy: Returning Miami Hurricanes to the First Round of the NFL Draft
Image by Courtney's Flickr via MNT Flickr Pool

For 14 straight years, at least one Miami Hurricanes football player was selected in the first round of the NFL draft. That's an astounding record that no other team seems poised to break anytime soon. (Alabama currently has the longest active streak at seven consecutive years.) Still, it was painful in 2009 to watch the first round go by without a single Cane selected. It was the first time that had happened since 1994, officially ending the streak. 

It was a melancholy reminder that the team was stuck in a slump of mediocrity it hadn't seen since the '70s. 

And it would be six more years until another Cane went in the first round. Both Ereck Flowers and Phillip Dorsett were selected in the draft's opening night in 2015. Last night, a new multiyear streak was born. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected cornerback Artie Burns with the 25th pick. 

That might be recently fired Al Golden's proudest legacy as Canes head coach. 

Look, Canes fans can sit there and discuss whether former head coach Al Golden was better than his predecessor, Randy Shannon, all day to no avail. Neither had particular success, and at the end of the day, Golden's 0.561 overall winning percentage is the smallest amount possible better than Shannon's 0.560. 

Still, maybe it's telling that Shannon himself never developed a single player into first-round talent under his regime while Golden guided three. 

Let's go back to 2008 and take a look at the last time the Canes selected in the first round as part of that 14-year streak. 

Safety Kenny Phillips was chosen with the 31st pick by the New York Giants. He was the only player to ever play under Shannon's regime to make it to the first round, even if it was just a single season. Though, Phillips was scouted and played most of his time under Larry Coker. (Yes, Shannon was defensive coordinator then, so he had an impact on Phillips' development, as he did as DC with many other Canes legends. But we're talking head coaching here.) Phillips was reportedly frustrated with the team during the single year he played under Shannon and declared for the draft as a junior, something Shannon tried to dissuade him to do. 

Six more drafts would go by without a Miami player going in the first round. 

For what it's worth, Phillip Dorsett was one of the last players who committed to the team under Shannon who actually stayed on with Golden. Though, Dorsett never played a snap under Shannon. 

Both Burns and Flowers were purely Golden's guys. 

Of course, Golden's relative success in developing high-caliber draft talent only underscores a lot of the criticism of his reign: He was great at recruiting but could never put it all together in a cohesive, game-winning unit. 

For what it's worth, it's also not like Shannon's players didn't end up succeeding in the NFL despite not being picked anywhere near the first round. 

In fact, the NFL might have Shannon to thank for Jimmy Graham. Shannon persuaded the former Canes basketball player to switch to football for a single year. He was selected in the third round but certainly has gone on to a first-round-worthy career. 


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