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Ireland: Dion Jordan Was The Player I Did Not Want To Pass Up
By on May 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Ireland draft roomThe NFL draft is a game of high-stakes poker inasmuch as it marries strategy and chance.

You are, in many ways, beholden to the teams around you, especially if you’re not looking to trade out of your spot. So the higher you pick, the more control you have. If that player you coveted comes off the board right before you, it’s adjust on the fly or miss out on another guy.

The acquisition of extra picks allowed Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins’ personnel department to play with a stacked deck. If they wanted to be bold, they could, and that, of course, is exactly what ended up happening.

Even still, did he have any post-draft regrets? Did anyone slip through his fingers at the top of the draft?

“Every year, there has been one guy,” Ireland told The Finsiders in a recent interview. “And this year, I went into this draft and said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen. And so I got him. It was Dion Jordan.”

For an event that has had some of the mystery sucked out — paralysis by over-analysis, picks being tipped on the Internet — this year’s Draft was strangely unpredictable, perhaps because of a lack of elite skill players. The first surprise happened, of course, when the Raiders were on the clock at No. 3, deciding instead to deal the pick to the Dolphins.

The immediate assumption was that Ireland would take Lane Johnson, the Oklahoma tackle, to help fortify the offensive line. What came next, though, was a bit of a shock because there had been no dot connecting to Jordan. But it wasn’t a shot the dark. Ireland, in fact, had been intrigued by the rangy, pass-rushing defensive end after the 2011 season, when some initially expected him to leave Oregon.

“We had him high on our board then,” Ireland said. “He didn’t come out, so we start the process again through the 2012 season. He’s high on our board again. We went into the draft thinking, OK, there’s two or three guys that, if we can get up there, we’re going to get. We’re going to be aggressive.

“It just happened to be that Dion Jordan was the player that I did not want to pass up.”

Perhaps one of the reasons that Jordan wasn’t connected to the Dolphins during the pre-draft process — even in some sort of elaborate trade scenario — was because of schematic fit. Jordan’s size, his skill set, translated better to a 3-4 defense, the “experts” said.  The Dolphins, after all, moved to a 4-3 defense last season under Kevin Coyle, looking to put a fourth down lineman in more often than not.

“We joke about it as a scouting staff that we changed a year too late,” Ireland said.” “But, look, I’ve got total confidence in Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle. They’re going to put together a very creative defense. That’s the great thing about it is that we’ve got great athletes over there that can rush the passer.”

So is there going to be another round of will-they-or-won’t-they with the Dolphins’ defensive line this summer?

A flexible coaching staff is probably more likely to bend scheme to fit personnel rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Some of the pieces may fit a 3-4 defense, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily signal a move to exclusively play it. More than anything, Jordan’s versatility will allow the Dolphins defense to be multiple.

“I’m excited about this defense because we can come at you at a multitude of different places,” Ireland said. “Heck, you never know, we may even line up to make it look like a 3-4. Who knows? We’ve got the bodies. That’s the reason you draft good athletes, to create some different looks.”

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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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