We’re moving right along in our All-Time Miami Dolphins series, and now we’re ready to tackle the linebacking corps. Before we ignite the Nick Bouniconti versus Zach Thomas debate, let’s take a quick look at the top outside linebackers in team history. The Dolphins haven’t had any Hall of Fame caliber outside linebackers, but some very solid players nonetheless.
Keep in mind 4-3 outside linebackers aren’t the pass rushing dynamos that 3-4 studs like Cameron Wake are. Instead, 4-3 OLB’s are usually responsible for containing the edge and dropping back into coverage. These four players did that very well and more for the Dolphins’ defenses of the 70s and 80s.
1. A.J. Duhe (1977-1984): The Dolphins made Duhe the 13th overall pick in the 1977 draft, and he wasted no time making an impact. Duhe won the starting job from the get go and was named UPI AFC Rookie of Year by season’s end. In the same manner he made a grand entrance as a rookie, Duhe ended his career with a bang, earning a trip to the 1984 Pro Bowl.
He was one of the most versatile players in franchise history, as he was moved all of the field to create mismatches, spending time at both linebacker and defensive end. But it was what Duhe did in the 1982 AFC Championship Game for which he emerged as a Dolphins legend. In a game that became known as the Mud Bowl thanks to a torrential downpour before kickoff, Duhe picked off New York Jets’ quarterback Richard Todd three times in the second-half of the Dolphins’ 14-0 victory. Taking into account the significance of that game and who the opponent was, it’s easy to see why many fans consider it the greatest performance by a Dolphins’ defender in team history.
2. Larry Gordon (1976-1982): The Dolphins spent their first-round pick the year before they drafted Duhe on Arizona St. product Larry Gordon. Gordon became a tackling machine in Miami, amassing 100 tackles five times. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl appearance, but Gordon was honored with two Outstanding Linebacker awards and was named to the Silver Anniversary team in 1991. Unfortunately, Gordon’s tenure in Miami ended tragically and unexpectedly. On July 3rd, 1983, Gordon collapsed while jogging and later died at a Phoenix hospital.
3. Kim Bokamper (1977-1985): Two picks after the Dolphins took Larry Gordon they drafted Kim Bokamper with the 19th overall selection of the 1976 draft. Like A.J. Duhe, Bokamper should be considered one of the most versatile players in franchise history. He spent most of the early 80s at defensive end, where he was a key member of the “Killer B’s” defense. But Bokamper earned Pro Bowl honors at outside linebacker in 1979.
4. Bob Brudzinski (1981-1989): After four solid years with the Los Angeles Rams, Brudzinski joined the “Killer B’s” in 1981. Brudzinski never made it to Hawaii, but like Larry Gordon, was recognized with two Outstanding Linebacker honors and was included on the Silver Anniversary team. It came in a deflating 31-14 loss to the Patriots in the 1985 AFC Championship Game, but Brudzinski registered an amazing 20 tackles in one of the better individual performances by a Dolphin defender in team history.