There is no question that this draft will be scrutinized by every fan, every expert, and everyone else. Jeff Ireland will stay off the proverbial hot seat until at least mid-way through the season or he will immediately be put on it. Of course I am talking about with the fans. The point is there are mistakes to be made and Jeff Ireland has to avoid them at all cost.
Here is a look at the mistakes I believe Jeff Ireland could make and why he should avoid them.
1: Trading up.
Luke Joeckel is the best pro-prospect in this years draft. Eric Fisher is not too far behind him, if behind him at all. Both appear to be franchise tackles in the NFL. If you think that a move from 12 to 1/2/3 will only cost Ireland the 12th and a 2nd round pick you would be wrong. Furthermore if you think the 2nd rounder will be pick 54 you would be wrong there too. The Dolphins need a LT but they need holes filled and play makers and they can find that at 12. Having two selections in round 2 should also provide opportunity to draft two more starters. I say opportunity because the Dolphins haven’t drafted well in round two in the past few years.
There has been a lot of talk about the Dolphins moving up to acquire the above mentioned two and while Fisher and Joeckel are top prospects, fellow LT Lane Johnson has been the hot rumored name associated with the Dolphins trade up thoughts. While Johnson has a lot of upside, he isn’t elite. Not yet. He isn’t a guy that can step into the LT spot at the NFL level and simply take ownership of it. He is going to struggle out of the gate. That’s not a player you trade a 2nd round pick and a 12th overall pick to obtain.
There are options out there for Ireland and company he only needs to be patient and if that doesn’t work, slide Jonathan Martin to the left side and sign a RT. It’s not ideal but it’s a legit option. Not every player Ireland acquires has to be the top paid at his position.
In this draft, there is really no player worth the compensation it would cost to move up. So why bother to try? Ireland worked to achieve this “plan” so why trade away that plan because you failed to secure a LT in free agency or because the one you thought you could get at 12 will be gone? See number 2.
The biggest knock on Jeff Ireland is his failure to recognize runs on certain positions. It’s why he tends to miss out. You can’t assume the guy you really want is going to slide a round later. You have to be willing to expose a player you like to take another you ranked higher. You have to be in love with that player. Ireland uses a horizontal draft approach and he probably would be better suited for a parallel approach.
Ireland seems to have the most issue trying to gauge talent vs. a position of need and that tends to skew the results. Player A may be the best player but he only fits the third need on your roster but why not take him instead of filling the number 1 need on your roster simply because you work off the premise you fill need for need?
Another issue with Ireland is he fails to realize a players worth to the rest of the NFL. Trading up irrationally for a player like Daniel Thomas proved a lack of vision. Again, talent vs. need. Michael Egnew last year was raw and labeled a blocking failure. He also couldn’t grasp the Dolphins playbook. Ireland needs to pencil in a handful of players he wants and then take them when it’s his turn. One comes off the board, slide the other one up. Don’t simply look to the next column and guess. Don’t see a run and then push up your players in that position so you come away with at least one of them.
If you projected a player wrong, then you projected them wrong. Take a breath and regroup.
3: Trading down without a plan.
There are at least four teams who may try and trade up into the drafts upper half and you can bet the Dolphins will be on the phone at least a few of them. Trading back can be a great achievement and really help your team get better fast. You have to be able to draft well though and the Dolphins have not found the same kind of success others have when they trade down.
A trade down is not looked at what was acquired as much as what you did with the selections you gained. If Ireland fields offers at number 12 and is given a great offer, there is no need to take it simply because it’s a, you know, great offer. If you don’t see a player at that slot you want for your team, then why make the trade? Why go into that pick with the assumption you will just take the best available. You can’t assume that the player you want at 12 is going to be around at 20. If you have nine players rated pull the trigger as you will know at least one will fall into your hands. That’s when the trade becomes valuable.
4: Assuming you can address a position later.
Too many times we have seen NFL teams draft a player early and learn that they had intentions of drafting filling a different hole later in the draft. Why assume at all? If you were to assume then shouldn’t you assume the worse that there would be no players at the position you want? For example, if the Dolphins wanted to take a BPA approach in round 1 and pass on say Milliner, Hayden, Rhodes at CB because they feel they can address the position later, then assume that later you may not have that option.
If you tell yourself there is a good chance that the best corners slotted in round 2 will be gone, does the guy your picking in round 1 bring a sense of buyers regret if they are gone in round 2? Put yourself in that mindset and you will make the best call for your team while on the clock.
5: Drafting early to avoid a problem later.
As I stated in number 4, drafting a player with the assumption you can address another position later is going to kill you. You end up reaching. Conversely, drafting a player simply because you believe the position will be gone later is just as bad. For example, if Jeff Ireland has his choice between the top TE, a CB, WR, or edge rusher, he shouldn’t draft an offensive guard simply because he likes the value in round 1 better than in round 2, 3, 4, etc… Ireland needs to make decisions that will make his football team better and passing on any player simply because you fear the value at the position later will be weak puts you at risk for drafting marginal prospects.
The most important thing Ireland can do is draft a player he loves, not one he desperately needs.
With so many options facing Ireland on draft day, Lane Johnson, Tyler Eiffert, Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes, Jarvis Jones, Barkevious Mingo, etc…, Ireland has more than enough options to make his football team better without over addressing it. Reaching or taking a risky trade. Imagine your Jeff Ireland and fear that all three tackles will be gone by the time you pick so you trade up and give up a 2nd and 4th rounder. Then find out you overplayed your desire and saw Lane Johnson still on the board at number 12. Ireland has to remain focused and listen to his scouts and coaches.
It’s his draft but a few mistakes early and it could be his last.