Ireland’s First Draft


Some Miami Dolphins fans are wondering, “I waited an entire year for this?”  “This“, of course being the NFL Draft that has concluded.  It marked the first draft run entirely by Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland and while it is far from being a successful one or a failure, in some ways it was still Bill Parcells and in other ways it was as far from BP as you could get.  I know that doesn’t make a ton of sense but in reality, there is little other way to explain it.  Outside of calling it simply a “Jeff Ireland Draft“.

We can start with the 15th overall pick when Miami failed to move down after hearing over and over again in the weeks and month leading to the draft that they would do everything they could to get back into round 2.  When the “phones weren’t ringing” Ireland made the safe pick.  Mike Pouncey.  A strong physical center/guard lineman who fits the Bill Parcells mold of bigger is better.  If he turns out anything like his brother Maurkice from Pittsburgh, he will be an All-Pro.

The pick wasn’t met with universal fanfare as Ireland passed on the sexy choice of a QB to shore up a lackluster offensive line.  He passed on Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram for a guy who would open holes for no one currently established on the roster.  It was after day one that Ireland stepped out of the BP shadow and took charge of his team.

Ireland waited until a small run on RB’s began later in round 2.  Sensing that somewhere between his Dolphins and the 17 picks remaining from round 2 and 3, that the guy he wanted wouldn’t be there.  So he traded up.  Giving up more than most found necessary for Kansas State runner Daniel Thomas. Thomas is a big bruising style runner…much like Marion Barber although he considers himself more in the style of Steven Jackson and Larry Johnson.  He also has fumble issues.  That won’t win over many fans.  To get the runner he desired, Ireland gave up his 3rd, 5th, and 6th round selections.  He got the Washington pick in return in round 2.

With no selections in round 3, Ireland could only wait.  With TE, LB, QB, and WR still needs for his roster, he simply watched teams make selection after selection.  Finally, in round 4 he used his selection on the speedster WR the team sorely lacks.  Edmund Gaits will be Miami’s vertical threat receiver who will line up opposite Brandon Marshall.  It will also mean that Miami will have to dump some of their WR’s when football resumes.  Mike Mayock of NFL Network said that Gaits will be asked to run deep routes until he learns to be an NFL receiver and called him a little raw with a lot of upside.  He also will likely return kicks.

With 3 picks in the books, Ireland managed to fill 3 needs on this roster.  Then, he again sat and waited.  On day 3 of the draft, Ireland added Charles Clay a FB/TE hybrid that could bring into question the future role of Lousaka Polite.  Clay has good hands out of the backfield and is a sharp short yardage runner but he lacks the ability to pick up blocks consistently…so it’s likely Polite has nothing to worry about immediately…and the Dolphins are more than likely to try and make him a full time TE.

Frank Kearse was taken in the 7th round.  A 6′ 4″ 315 pound defensive tackle, Kearse will likely be a developmental player who the Dolphins can groom to eventually make the final roster.  If Kearse was the first defensive player taken, it was the Dolphins last selection, CB Jimmy Wilson who makes the biggest headline.

Wilson spent almost 3 years in prison for a murder that he was eventually acquitted of.  You can read that very interesting story here.

In the end, the Dolphins filled holes on the roster and while Jeff Ireland says the team got better this weekend, it’s hard to really see anyone stepping out and becoming a sure fire stud immediately.  The Dolphins and Ireland played it safe.  They chose players who fit their needs, and took players who could contribute sooner rather than later.  An silent indication that they believe their jobs may not be as secure as many believe.  That winning now is more important than drafting a QB to groom later.

The lack of drafting a QB only heightens and could hinder their attempts to land one when free agency begins again.  The Dolphins will likely have to trade for a veteran or roll the dice on a guy like Vince Young and hope it works.  The benefit that Ireland has this year is that free agency is in front of him and not behind him.  It also will be interesting to see how much Ireland values his draft picks next year.  It’s likely he is going to have to use a couple to get some of his other positions filled.