Skip to the content

Dolphins sign Long, will select OT No. 1 overall

Updated: April 22, 2008, 11:52 PM ET

DAVIE, Fla. -- Jake Long seemed at ease in his new role as the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, leaning into a news conference microphone to talk about his mean streak while his mother sat in the corner, nodding as she smiled.

The Miami Dolphins were grinning Tuesday, too. They signed the Michigan left tackle to a five-year, $57.75 million contract with $30 million guaranteed, and they'll select him with the top pick in the draft Saturday.

The deal allows the Dolphins and Long to avoid a possible holdout.

"It's really important for us to know Jake is going to be on the field for us on time when training camp begins in July," coach Tony Sparano said. "That was critical."

Last year's top pick, JaMarcus Russell, signed for $61 million with the Oakland Raiders but missed all of training camp before reaching a deal.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Tuesday that the St. Louis Rams, who hold the second pick in the NFL draft, were told today by the NFL management council that they do not have permission to begin negotiations with any player now that the Dolphins have signed Long. A league spokesman said there have been internal discussions to determine whether the Rams have the right to negotiate with a player or players.

Hashmarks

The intrigue for the No. 1 selection is gone now but there is plenty of it left for the high picks that follow, Mike Sando writes. Hashmarks
• Sando: Long to start at left tackle

The novelty of Long's early signing Tuesday created some uncertainty. Normally, if the team selecting first signs a player before the draft, it happens in the 24 hours leading up to the first pick, which allows very little time for the team with the second pick.

Long becomes the highest-paid lineman in the NFL and a 6-foot-7, 315-pound cornerstone in a rebuilding project for the new Dolphins regime led by Bill Parcells. Last season Miami went 1-15, and the offensive line has been a chronic problem in recent years.

"Jake was our guy from the beginning," general manager Jeff Ireland said. "Jake Long was on the top of our board for a long time. There wasn't a whole lot of debate. We thought it was a very good fit with the Miami Dolphins."

With many other needs as well, the Dolphins were interested in trading the top pick for multiple lower choices. When no suitors surfaced, they began negotiations last week with Long's agent, Tom Condon.

"It's such a great honor to be the No. 1 pick," Long said. "I don't think it has sunk in yet. It's something every kid dreams about. I'm just real excited that it happened. Now I'm coming to a great place."

The Dolphins said they didn't begin contract talks with potential picks other than Long.

"It was a very straightforward negotiation," Condon said. "They didn't leverage us with other players, and we didn't tell them we wanted to be on some different team or any of those kinds of things."

Reaching a contract agreement before the draft isn't unprecedented. The Houston Texans signed defensive end Mario Williams as their No. 1 pick on the eve of the 2006 draft.

They're No. 1

Jake Long will be the latest top pick in the NFL draft. Here's a look at some other recent No. 1 selections:

Year
Player, Pos., School
Team
2007 JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU OAK
2006 Mario Williams, DE, NC St. HOU
2005 Alex Smith, QB, Utah SF
2004 Eli Manning, QB, Miss. SD
2003 Carson Palmer, QB, USC CIN
2002 David Carr, QB, Fresno St. HOU
2001 Michael Vick, QB, VTU ATL
2000 Courtney Brown, DE, PSU CLE

The only other offensive lineman taken with the No. 1 choice since 1970 was Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace, who made the Pro Bowl seven consecutive times after joining the Rams in 1997. The Dolphins would be thrilled to recoup a comparable achievement from Long.

"Jake has all the qualities we're looking for in our linemen," said Sparano, who coached the offensive line with the Dallas Cowboys. "He's very tough, smart and disciplined. Those are the people we want to surround ourselves with here."

Long said he's glad he'll be reporting to training camp on time, because he'll need to adjust to the faster speed of the NFL game.

Temperament won't be an issue, he said.

"I'm mean on the field," he said. "I'm a very nice guy off the field. When I buckle up that helmet, I change. It's football mode. I go out there and try to bury the guy and make sure they don't touch the quarterback or running back."

Long started 40 games at Michigan and was Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 2006 and 2007. He finished second to LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey in balloting last season for the Lombardi and Outland trophies.

Lloyd Carr, who coached Long at Michigan, said he had several conversations with Parcells in recent weeks.

"I know this: Jake Long is his type of player," Carr said. "Jake is passionate about the game, and I don't think there is anything that he lacks."

The Dolphins decided to use the top pick on offense rather than take Dorsey, Virginia defensive end Chris Long or Ohio State linebacker Vernon Gholston. It turns out Ireland's comment last week about drafting "a pillar of your defense" was a slip of the tongue -- or a smoke screen.

"That's for me to know, and you to guess about," Ireland said with a smile.

The drama may be missing, but Long still plans to fly to New York on Wednesday and attend the draft. The Dolphins have eight other picks and four of the first 64, and they remain in the market for more offensive linemen, a quarterback, a receiver, a tight end, cornerbacks, defensive linemen and linebackers.

At left tackle, they're set.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


2008 NFL DRAFT

When/Where: Saturday-Sunday, Radio City Music Hall in New York. First round begins at 3 p.m. ET. Round 3 begins at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Format: Teams have 10 minutes per pick in Round 1, seven minutes in Round 2 and five minutes in Rounds 3-7.
On ESPN:
-- Saturday: SportsCenter Special, 11-3 p.m. ET
-- Saturday: Rounds 1-2 coverage, 3 p.m. ET
-- Sunday: Rounds 3-7 coverage, 10 a.m. ET
On ESPNEWS:
-- Saturday: Team previews, 7 a.m. ET

Draft Central | First-round order | Discuss
History: Searchable information dating to 1967


News

• Dolphins sign Jake Long, will pick him No. 1

Commentary/Features

• Williamson: Chiefs need big draft
• Clayton: 10 draft indicators to watch
• Chadiha: Colvin's jagged journey | Gallery
• Williamson: Sundquist's draft guide
• Clayton: Five compelling story lines
• Third And Short: Draft questions
Yasinskas: NFL far away for Westbrook
ESPN The Mag: It's not easy being No. 1
Yasinskas: NFC South quarterback needs
Williamson: Draft hits, misses in AFC West
Sando: Leaf's failure had ripple effect
• Mel Kiper: '98 Peyton Manning draft report
• Mel Kiper: '98 Ryan Leaf draft report
• Reese: 5 background checks teams make
• Williamson: Bigwigs need these draft seals
• Wickersham: Ryan accurate, poised at pro day
• Reese: How to build a draft board
• Reese: College scouts face many challenges
• Sando: Teams wary of early picks
• Clayton: Five combine observations

Draft Busts

• Top 50 busts: Nos. 1-15
• Top 50 busts: Nos. 16-30
• Top 50 busts: Nos. 31-50
• Kiper: 10 guys I thought couldn't miss but didInsider
• Walker: Shuler enjoying second stint in D.C.
• Mosley: Leaf at peace with his NFL failure
• Yasinskas: Westbrook has no room for football
• Zoom Gallery: 10 notable draft busts

Draft Steals

• Top 50 steals: 1-15
• Top 50 steals: 16-30
• Top 50 Steals: 31-50
• Kiper: 10 sleepers who made it Insider
• Zoom Gallery: 10 notable draft steals
• Sando: Draft steals pre-1967
Williamson: Catching up with Shannon Sharpe
Mosley: Catching up with Rayfield Wright
Walker: Catching up with Earnest Byner
Sando: Catching up with Ken Houston
Watch: Wiley on draft busts, steals
• Watch: Kiper, McShay on draft sleepers

On The Clock

AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC West: Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
AFC North: Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South: Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC West: Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks | 49ers
NFC North: Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South: Bucs | Falcons | Panthers | Saints

• Team-by-team video

Scouts Inc. Insider

• Cheat Sheets: DL | DB | LB | OL
• Monday buzz: QB trade talk heating up
• McShay: Mock draft with scenarios
Muench: Midround RBs and where they fit
• McShay: Dolphins looking for leverage?
• Muench: Midround TEs and where they fit
• Revisiting the 2005 draft | 2005 re-draft
• McShay: Disinformation, players rising and falling
• Muench: Midround DTs and where they fit
• McShay: Circus atmosphere at USC pro day
• Muench: Midround DEs and where they fit
• Muench: Midround centers and where they fit
• McShay: Solid pro day for Dorsey
• Muench: Midround guards and where they fit
• McFadden eases character concerns
• Muench: Midround ILBs and where they fit
• Muench: BC pro day not all about Ryan
• McShay: Pro day cements Ryan's top-five status
• McShay: The top tiers of talent in 2008


Mel Kiper Insider

• Mock | Big Board | Top 5 by position (4/9)

SportsNation

•  Rank'em: Draft sleepers
• Your picks | Team needs

Green, McShay position breakdown ESPN Video

• 2008 draft channel
• QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
• OLs | DLs | LBs | DBs