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Ireland: If Our Board Is Right, We Killed It
By on May 2, 2012 at 11:58 am

The NFL teams that have the staying power to be annual contenders generally build through the draft.

Fresh off last week’s draft, Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland joined The Finsiders to talk about the incoming draft class and his confidence in the group. 

“I’ve never really been in a draft where we got so much value in the picks that we picked based on our board,” Ireland said. “If our board is right, then we killed it. That’s the way we see it. If our board is right, we killed it.”

Each year, it seems the NFL Draft is growing in scale and scope, prompting wall-to-wall coverage. This can be both a blessing and a curse for an NFL general manager. It may help to grow the game, but it also creates an environment that encourages too much transparency and misinformation. Being able to guard your information and your opinions can be important to land a prized prospect.

“You can’t show your cards,” Ireland said. “That’s part of the education process I go over with my scouts. It’s that, look, we gather information; we don’t give away anything.”

Most of the attention during training camp will be focused on the quarterback competition, which will pit first-round pick Ryan Tannehill against Matt Moore and David Garrard. Ireland said he’ll obviously keep an eye on how things progress, but he’s the most intrigued by the battle at receiver.

Many speculated that the Dolphins would try to add a receiver during the top half of the draft, but Ireland said he thought he could find value in the later rounds. B.J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews that should have a lot to prove after the departure of Brandon Marshall.

“It’s a very young group. They’re eager,” Ireland said. “There are some guys getting their PHD’s. They’re poor, hungry and driven.”

If it hadn’t been evident already, this draft class signaled a commitment to adding a different type of player, one who could seamlessly fit into Joe Philbin’s West Coast offense.  This, of course, includes running back Lamar Miller, who played at Miami Killian High School and the University of Miami.

With Miller’s addition, the Dolphins’ backfield should be pretty crowded. But the fourth-rounder’s speed could help him see the field early, perhaps even as a punt or kick returner.

“He’s got a burst,” Ireland said. “He’s one of those guys that if you’re on the 3-yard line, you better watch out because he may take it 97. He’s g0t big, home-run speed.”

During his time in Green Bay–last season, the Packers had at least five tight ends on the roster throughout the season–Philbin had a large group of tight ends to work with. For Ireland, it wasn’t just about adding depth at the position this off-season. He also wanted to acquire players that would bring a different type of skill set to add versatility.

Michael Egnew, who was selected in the third round, should give the Dolphins a seam threat that can stretch the field. Because he wasn’t asked to block at Missouri, many evaluators labeled him as a poor blocker. Ireland, though, said the athletic tight end’s eagerness to get physical was what made him attractive.

“What really got us going was he put his hand in the dirt at the Senior Bowl,”  Ireland said. “Ninety percent of blocking is willingness. The other part is: Do you have the leverage, the knee bend and the explosion to roll your hips into a defensive end or a linebacker to get some movement? He had willingness, leverage and explosion.”

In order to carry out his vision, Ireland said it’s critical to have an understanding for the type of players that the head coach is looking for. As far back as the interviewing process, the Dolphins GM could tell it would be easy to be on the same page as Philbin.

“One of thing during the head coaching process was trying to marry a vision that I have for the type of team that I want to build and marrying to what Joe wants to build,” Ireland said. “We marry that very easily because we want high-character, tough-minded, disciplined, dependable, highly passionate, smart football players on your football team.”






Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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