April 4, 2002
Johnson's best pick occurred in his first draft when he chose an undersized linebacker from Texas Tech in Round 5 named Zach Thomas. Johnson has always favored speed and aggressiveness on defense, even at the expense of size, and Thomas fit that mold perfectly. So would two players taken in the third round in '97, Jason Taylor and Derrick Rodgers. J.J. gave Miami its best pair of cornerbacks ever when he grabbed Sam Madison (2, '97) and Patrick Surtain (2, '98).
While with the Dolphins, Johnson continued his practice of repeatedly trading down in the draft to acquire extra picks in the later rounds. Unlike his Dallas experience, these extra choices usually didn't amount to much. In fact, one such trade brought Miami the pick that would be used on one of its most controversial players ever.
Johnson took a chance on Cecil Collins with a fifth-round pick he got from the 49ers, even though Collins had a history of unlawful and disturbing behavior. Collins' bad habits continued in Miami, leading to his quick departure from the team and a boatload of criticism heaped on Johnson for bringing him to South Florida in the first place.
Copyright © 2014, South Florida Sun-Sentinel