The draft has come and gone, and the Miami Dolphins made sure to give their fans the best experience possible as they put together a huge party for fans at the Don Taft University Center Arena in Davie during the first round of the draft.
Thursday's festivities saw fans crowding into the arena with friends and family as they got ready to watch the draft unfold with live commentary from Dolphins alumni Sam Madison and Kim Bokamper, along with former Finsiders panelist John Congemi.
Refreshments could be found both upstairs and downstairs, and with the TVs displaying ESPN's draft coverage on the lower level, that left the upper level available for merchandise and a garage sale so fans could bring home some new memorabilia to commemorate the experience.
As the draft went on and picks were made, the fans got to test their skills with combine drills like the high jump and long jump coordinated by Senior Director of Community Affairs and former Dolphins linebacker Twan Russell, as well as get autographs by alumni and current players such as OL Billy Turner, DB Walt Aikens and TE Dion Sims.
"I didn't think it would be like this," Sims said about the party. "It's amazing to see all these people here, it's a special night for these guys and I'm anxious to see who we add to the team to help us get to where we need to go."
Eventually Sims would get his wish. After an extremely unpredictable draft that included some rather unfortunate drama that caused the free fall of the draft's best overall prospect, the Dolphins officially went on the clock with the 13th overall pick, and there was talent on the board that no one expected to still be available at that point prior to the draft.
Fans waited with bait breath for the announcement of the identity of the newest Miami Dolphin, the minutes ticked down until the screen flashed that the pick was in. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked up to the podium (with boos following him all the way) and read the card he'd been handed.
The name he read off the card was met with mixed reactions from the fans present at the draft party.
No one - fans or national experts - could have possibly predicted that the Dolphins would get the chance to draft Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall pick, but once the pick was actually made, there were some cheers, some boos, and some stunned silence from how it appeared.
I surveyed fans as they left the building to get their reaction regarding the Tunsil pick. Some were happy because they knew offensive line was a big need and Miami drafted the best guy in the whole draft, some were upset because there were players on the board who they felt were better and filled a more pressing need.
Some gave me a few choice words that I won't write down here or repeat in public.
The draft party was an unmitigated success, but the pick the Dolphins made ended up souring the mood for certain fans. Of course, that's to be expected, no draft pick is ever unanimous among the fanbase. Next year's party will probably be even better, as it'll probably be back at the stadium again once the construction is done.
In the end, fun was had by all and although the draft pick disappointed some, that doesn't diminish the amazing event that took place. Friends and families got to hang out and enjoy some football excitement, and now in a few months they'll get to have some real football action to watch again.
Sit tight Dolphins fans.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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