New Miami Dolphins boss Bill Parcells, the overrated NFL coach that only won big when Bill Belichick was his defensive coordinator, made the safe pick, signing Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long earlier this week before the Dolphins actually call his name Saturday to open the draft.

It reminded me of the 2004 draft when the popular opinion in the NFL was for the Chargers to make the safe pick and choose Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery as the first pick. NFL scouts and general managers considered him a can’t-miss pick — the same thing they say now about Long.

As history has shown us, Gallery has turned out to be a major disappointment for the Oakland Raiders, who took him with the second pick. What a shame that he ended up with Al Davis and the Raiders, who represent everything evil in sports.

The Chargers passed on Gallery and opened the draft by taking quarterback Eli Manning and subsequently dealing him to the New York Giants for a package that resulted in quarterback Philip Rivers, kicker Nate Kaeding, Shawne Merriman and Roman Oben leading the Chargers to AFC West titles in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Gallery has been such a bust at tackle, the Raiders have had to move him to guard. In last year’s regular season finale, Chargers undrafted free agent Jyles Tucker was blitzing past Gallery on a day he posted three sacks, recovered a fumble in the end zone and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

How could so many wise NFL people be so wrong about Gallery? As Chargers general manager A.J. Smith likes to say when explaining how some draft picks are bombs and others big surprises, “It’s the mystery of our business.”

One of the most respected mock drafts is put together by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. Gosselin correctly named Long the first pick of the draft two weeks ago in his first mock draft, one that dealt with “the best player available philosophy.” His second draft last week is based on “team needs.”

The Chargers’ first-round pick is the 27th overall. For what it’s worth, Gosselin’s “best player available” draft had the Chargers taking Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo and his “need” draft East Carolina running back Chris Johnson.

Is that a good thing? As the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” ends, “We’ll see.”


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