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Jeff Ireland On The Dolphin's 2013 Draft

The Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland spoke with media Thursday about the 2013 NFL draft and what the Dolphins plan to do to address personal needs.

(On how excited he is about what happened in free agency and heading into the Draft) Well, weve got a long way to go. Free agencys not over. Obviously, we like the progress. We felt like weve made some progress. Theres been a lot of work that went into it obviously. Ive got a lot of people to thank. Actually, Id like to take the opportunity to thank my team, obviously, up to this point, our personnel department, our football administration, in particular, (Executive Vice President of Football Administration) Dawn Aponte and (Manager of Football Administration) Ryan Herman, my right hand guy (Assistant General Manager) Brian Gaine, (Assistant Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Shea. Coach (Joe) Philbin and I worked extremely well together during this process, along with Dawn, and its been a lot of fun to work with them. Its been a lot of busy work, a lot of ups and downs in the process, but nothing we werent prepared for. But weve got a long way to go. Weve got some holes to fill.

(On having a lot of draft picks and how that impacts what can happen during the Draft) It really hasnt changed too much of the preparation process. I dont think Im going to go into the Draft with more guys on the board or anything like that. Well still attack it in the same process weve always done and obviously weve got to be more prepared to take more players. Obviously, you have options to, I like to use the word ammunition to kind of go up if you wanted to and certainly theres opportunities to do that and theres also opportunities to move back and move around. So weve had a lot of opportunities to do that as well.

(On how the free agent acquisitions have impacted the teams needs going into the Draft) I think it gave us a lot of flexibility in the Draft. Obviously, I think we helped ourselves in the front line in certain areas, obviously at the wide receiver position (by) getting Brian (Hartline) back, adding Mike (Wallace) and Brandon (Gibson). Adding that to Davone (Bess) and some of the young players we have, obviously that helped us in the wide receiver position. I think thats a strength of our team now, one of the strengths of our team. Certainly from a depth perspective, Vaughn Martin, Lance Louis, those guys helped our depth. Brent Grimes, adding Brent to the schematics, obviously helps some of the front line things. I think going into the Draft or coming out of free agency, at least this part of free agency, has helped us from just having a little bit more idea of just being able to do what we do in the Draft, and thats hopefully just picking the best player that we feel like marries a need if we can and not have to reach for anybody.

(On if its essential to select a cornerback high in this Draft) Well, I dont want to say its essential. Certainly, Im not going to pinpoint myself exactly where Im going in the Draft, but I think a corner, I think corners can be selected and have an active role just about anywhere in the Draft. Thats one position that, they develop differently and you can find them, just like Brent Grimes, you can find them in free agency. You can find them in the fourth, fifth, sixth rounds obviously. I dont think thats particularly a position you have to have to take high.

(On his philosophy on drafting a need versus taking the best player available) We dont draft vertically. We draft more horizontally. I dont go through the board and say, This guy over this guy over this guy over this guy over this guy. I dont do that. I have the draft more horizontally by position (and) by round. So if youre in a position where you have a guy at guard and you have a need at guard, hes up there, but you have maybe two other players at the same value then you might take the guard because its a player of need. But you may have two or three other players that have the same value as that player, but it marries the need. The value marries the need. Thats basically how I go into it.

(On if he views Jonathan Martin as Jake Longs replacement or if he will replace him through the Draft) You basically answered the question for me. Theres a lot of options still open. Im going to let my coaching staff pretty much decide at the end of this process where Jonathan Martin plays. I think what we do have is a flexible player, a versatile player that can play left, that can play right. I think his development has been good. I think hes got a long way to go to play right or left to be a really, really good player. Thats what we want him to be. Obviously, we have all of our options open. Theres still free agents on the street. Theres still guys in the trade market that are available and then we have the Draft thats two weeks away that certainly we could go that route as well. Obviously, I think well probably be active in maybe one of those pieces and maybe more.

(On the offensive line in the Draft and how far the position falls off after the first round in terms of quality) I think it depends on how many guys you have in the first round. If you only have two guys in the first round, then the second round is probably pretty strong. I think theres a good level of guys that have a lot of experience, that can come in right away and play. And then theres some really good players that may be a little bit further down in the Draft that have the potential to play and be really good in this league, that may not have the level of experience that youre looking for early. I think thats the beauty of this Draft is that theres some at the top, theres some second and third round that all can, at the end of maybe a year, that you have exactly what youre looking for.

(On having ammunition to be able to trade up and how high up he could conceivably go) Ive got enough ammunition to get to the first pick if I wanted to, but I dont see myself doing that personally. I dont know. It depends on whats there and we havent gone through the process of (figuring that out) and talking to other teams at this point and seeing where we would go up or back. Right now, were trying to get the board right and were kind of grinding through the process. Were in our second week of Draft meetings. Weve got about six more days left to kind of finalize the board and so, at that point, we have about a week-to-10 days to kind of work the kind of the nuances of moving up (and) moving back. So weve got a little ways to go.

(On having five selections in the first three rounds and the options that brings) Yeah, you have to play out all of the options. Thats what were in the business to do is look at your contingencies. I can certainly sit here and say Im going to have three players out of the five. I can certainly say Im going to have six players out of the five. I think there are certain levels of the Draft that are really attractive to me. So I think all options are open, absolutely.

(On when he would be willing to deviate from his approach to select a player) When a player is still on the board high and you may have passed him by once or twice because maybe youve gone to a need, maybe. Ive been in a couple of drafts where theres a guy sitting there and its not particularly, its not a need, its not a must, its not a want. Hes just not a position that I have in my radar. So sometimes you might not draft a player that you have a high grade on. Then, you go two rounds and that guys still staring at you, Im probably going to go get that guy.

(On how much his philosophy of what kind of player he would select has changed with Coach Philbin coming in) One of the things I liked about Joe in the interview process was that he and I see players pretty much the same. Schematically is where maybe its changed. Character and makeup, those things, we see very much eye-to-eye on. Im probably a little bit more of a risk taker than maybe Joe, but we certainly see eye-to-eye. We want guys that are highly competitive. We want guys that have a specific combination of intangible ingredients that form a desired football personality. Thats absolutely what were trying to look for. Schematics are obviously different, maybe form a defensive line standpoint, maybe from and offensive line standpoint.

(On how the development of the tight end position has changed) You kind of mirror what the college game is doing right now and the college game is spreading out. So youre getting guys that the college game is playing with. Theres not many traditional Y big blocking tight ends that are playing with them. Certain programs have them and certainly you really study those programs that are playing with those kind of tight ends. But the tight end position all together has gotten very athletic. Its gotten fast. Its gotten big. Its gotten athletic. And I think thats made the NFL trend that way too. I think theres some very athletic, big, fast tight ends that are making a lot of plays in this league and so I think youll see obviously the NFL going that way.

(On drafting core positions high and if tight ends are becoming a core position) It depends on your coach sometimes. It hasnt necessarily been a core position. I think it becomes a core position when you may not have other pieces to your offense. I think youre trying to control the middle of the field in some cases and if you dont have kind of the horses on the outside that control the perimeters, then you certainly want to be able to control the middle of the field and, in a lot of cases, you want to be able to do both. But I wouldnt call it an absolutely core piece.

(On if hell be comfortable with not having an offensive tackle by May 1) I feel very comfortable with Nate Garner. I feel comfortable with some of the young developmental players. Obviously, I could look at the whole offensive line in particular, were going to try to upgrade the offensive line as whole. Where we do it (and) how we do it, right now, we have a really good core of players with Jonathan and Richie (Incognito) and John (Jerry) and obviously (Mike) Pouncey, and I think Nates in that core group of guys at this point. Behind them, we have a very young group of guys that dont have a lot of experience. So we need to add depth there. We need to add some experience. We certainly need to add some talent on the offensive line.

(On if hes inclined to take more risks in the Draft because he has a lot of selections this year) I dont want to go into it thinking that way. I really dont. I would really kind of, more or less, to kind of go about it in the way Ive always gone about it. I think you could think that way, that you could take a risk, but Im still going to go into it trying to get really good football players that have a high upside that we can develop that are our kind of guys and I think, if you go into that way, then I think youre going to come out the best way.

(On whether he wants to exit the Draft with quality or quantity) It depends. I mean both. You would like to have a bunch of good players. Thats what you would like to come out of it with. It depends on how the board falls. You know if the guys that you have on your board are clipping off at a fairly high rate, then youd better go up and get what you really like. Again, the Draft falls differently every year. Its very hard to predict how its going to fall. We start trying to predict how things are going to fall right about now, and were just now getting through the process of strategizing.

(On how he views his 30 official Draft visits) I think everybody does it differently, and Im one of those everybody. Again, I dont have a strict philosophy about how I do it. Sometimes Ive got a guy that I need a little bit more medical information on. Some of the guys I didnt get a chance to visit with them at the Combine, or I did visit with them at the Combine and didnt get the information I wanted. Theres no rhyme or reason. Some guys I have a lot of interest in, and some I guys I have no interest in at all, but there is really no rhyme or reason.

(On why he brought Manti Teo in for an official visit) Well I think Manti is a good football player. We had 15 minutes with him at the combine, and so I think he is a good football player that is going to be drafted, and in that particular case, I wanted to spend some time with him. Kind of get to know a little bit more about the whole process he has been through, how he has handled it, and how he is moving forward with it.

(On whether this draft is more important than past drafts) Well I mean we have 11 picks, and thats why its important. A lot of time, a lot of planning is put into this offseason not only just for the draft picks, but to this point to have the cap space and the draft picks in the same year, a lot of thinking and a lot of planning went into this. But the fact that we do have 11 draft picks and five in the top three rounds, thats important. It doesnt come around very often that you have that kind of clout in the draft. We need to take advantage of it, so its very important.

(On the atmosphere in the war room on draft day) Last year was pretty quiet. We didnt have a lot of action early in the draft, but it can get chaotic. You have guys that have been through it before, and Ive been in drafts where it is extremely chaotic. Ive been in drafts with (Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager) Jerry, Mr. Jones, in Dallas where he is wheeling and dealing, and it can be very exciting. In our particular case, weve had a couple of different scenarios, and it gets really hectic when you have five minutes in-between each round. Sometimes the phone doesnt ring until you are on the clock and you have to make a decision (snaps fingers) to trade back, or maybe another team is on the clock and you want that pick. So, Im telling Brian (Gaine) to call and Dawn (Aponte) to call and Chris (Shea) and Im calling, you know did you make the trade? Did you call the league? Did they get the phone call from the league? A lot of things have to happen. Did you turn the card in? So it can get pretty hectic. Its fun, its an adrenaline rush no doubt about it.

(On whether he expects a similar situation this year where the majority of picks in the top 10 are traded) It all falls differently. Do I expect it? I think last year was a little unique, but again, were all in a whole different time frame at this point with the CBA and the contracts and all that. I think you can take any player, any position and there is no rhyme or reason why you do it. If there is a need and there is a conviction by the team to take any particular position, then you go up and get it. Its not the losers curse anymore. I think it makes sense to do those things if you want the player.

(On whether he thinks he needs to address the wide receiver position early in the Draft after how the team addressed it in free agency) I like the unit that we have. We have some complementary skill sets that make us a lot better than we were last year. I think there are some good players at that position, but to say that I am going to be active early at that position, I cant say at this point. I do like where our wide receiver position is obviously. Again, I think the complementary skill set is what we have been able to add to this football team, to what we already had on this football team, are very good. I think it is the strength of our football team.

(On whether he knows who he is going to pick in the first round of the Draft) Not exactly. Its a little bit different this year. There are a lot of different things that Im playing through my head right now that Joe (Philbin) and I are talking about. There are still a couple positions that we havent actually talked about in our meetings yet. Ive sent Joe off to watch different guys and said, hey lets get back together. So this is the time we bring our coaches back and try to marry what we see as a personnel department to what our coaches see and the schematics of where they are at. I have a pretty good idea of three or four guys that I am looking at, absolutely.

(On what Jonathan Martin needs to do to be the starting left tackle) I think the offseason for Jonathan is important. You know just getting stronger and getting his technique, his use of hands, (getting) his punch down properly, the timing of his punch. Skill set is not a problem. This guys got great feet and he's big enough. He needs to work on some anchor, but he needs to be more consistent with some of the things he is going to see. Youre going up against probably the best athlete per pound on the football field in the right defensive end or right outside linebacker. So, youve got to be on your game when youre playing left tackle in this league. He just needs to work on his consistency.

(On Brent Grimes health and when he expects him to be ready) We did our due diligence obviously with a guy coming off an Achilles injury. I personally am qualified as Dr. Ireland at this point. I studied a lot on just the particular injury itself. I certainly like the player. I talked to our doctors, talked to his surgeon or had my people talk to his surgeon, and I think he is in a really good place right now. I dont want to make any time tables because I dont know exactly what were doing with him when he gets in the building. I know he's doing really well and he's almost to the point, in his mind, where he's ready to participate in the offseason program, but to say when he is going to be 100% or anything like that, Id have to see him move around a little bit.

(On whether Grimes injury impacts what the teams needs are) I feel good about him. I feel very good about him right now.

(On whether he is aware of the fact that a lot of players he has picked in the second and third rounds of past drafts are no longer on the team and whether that affect the way he drafts) Well I am aware of it. You guys keep me aware of it quite often. I dont take any different than the way Ive always gone into it. Im going to put the board up the way I put it up. I have different aspects of the draft room itself to try and help improve that process. One is my head coach. Brian Gaine is a little more involved in this process. So, obviously you are trying to upgrade the room and the dynamics of the room. Certainly I havent changed too much in regard to picking players. I have been doing it a long time now.

(On how the volatility of the top 10 picks impacts the Dolphins at pick 12) I wouldnt say its volatile. I think there are a lot of different scenarios. I think last year, in comparison, you knew where one, two and three were going to go. You obviously had Andrew Luck and you had the Washington Redskins trading up to that pick (number 2 overall) and you knew who they were going to pick, so thats two off the board right away. I think there is a lot more confidential information right now in the clubs. I dont think anybody has just come out and said who theyre taking or anything like that. Nobody has shown their hand yet, which is good. Thats the way we all want it to be honest with you.

(On how valuable it is to find a true press corner in the draft and how deep the cornerback class is) Well it depends what kind of scheme that you run whether its important to get a press corner. We dont play a ton of press, but we do play a lot of man-to-man. There is a difference. So, is it extremely important that we get a guy who plays 90% press? No its not, but its important that the guy we draft can play man-to-man. But also, we play some zone and we play some off-man. Off-man is very difficult. There is a different skill set to that, so finding a guy that can have a pretty good skill set that is not strictly one thing or the other is important.

(On whether he wants to continue to address offensive line high in the draft after committing so many high draft picks to the position in the past) If I get another (Mike) Pouncey and another Jake Long I would do it every draft. Those kinds of guys are pretty darn good. I wish I had a whole team full of Mike Pounceys and Jake Longs to be honest with you. Those guys are really good players. They are productive; I know what Im getting every single day with the guys. Particularly, Im not going to pigeon hole myself just to take an offensive lineman. I think we have a couple other positions that we might go after obviously. I think there is going to be a good player for us. Im excited about going into this draft.

Source: Miami Dolphins Media



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