Bill Parcells' recent statement that he may have missed the mark by not taking quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008 (when Parcells was the Dolphins' vice president of football operations) confirms the "safe pick" theory isn't really all that safe.
The safe pick that year was left tackle Jake Long, and he has lived up to all his pre-NFL billing. He has been to three Pro Bowls. He has never missed a start. He's a great leader on the field and in the locker room. In a normal situation, Parcells should be proud.
But to survive in the NFL decision-making business these days, playing it safe only works if the team has a great quarterback. With 59 percent of last season's plays leaguewide designed for the pass, a great quarterback can cover for any hole on a team. A tackle, a defensive end, a wide receiver or any other position can't do that.
On the surface, things couldn't have worked out any better for Parcells and the Dolphins. He drafted his Pro Bowl left tackle and was lucky enough to find a strong-armed quarterback (Chad Henne) available with the 57th pick in the second round. Defensive end Phillip Merling was there for Parcells with the first pick in the second round, so Parcells left the draft feeling he had filled three key positions.