With the start of the NFL Draft now less than a week away, it’s time to start analyzing what the decision makers are saying. Yesterday, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland met with the media and discussed several of the big Fins-related issues that are coming around the corner, both in the draft and in free agency. John Congemi breaks it all down…
Jeff Ireland’s Pre-Draft Press Conference
Jeff Ireland stepped to the podium yesterday and had a lot to say about the process and evaluations that have been taking place leading up to this year’s draft. I was happy to hear Jeff speak about the way he evaluates different positions and where the Dolphins need to be when they draw the curtain open for the 2011-2012 season. Ireland spoke about the running game, quarterbacks in the draft and qualities that he’s looking for in both positions, and how he feels about being in the 15th spot in the draft. He shared his philosophy about top running backs in the league over time are going to be top picks in the draft, but not all the time. I believe that Ireland feels comfortable at the 15th pick, but the “I’m game for anything” quote says to me that anything is possible from now through next Thursday night.
Two positions to pay close attention to in this year’s draft are quarterback and running back. It was interesting to hear Jeff talk about the qualities he looks for in these two positions. Ireland believes that a running back must have great instincts, quickness, vision, a low center of gravity and above all play with toughness. Sounds like a lot of the same traits that Alabama’s Mark Ingram or Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams. A lot has been made of the scrutiny of the interview process that quarterbacks go through in there meetings with NFL personal prior to the draft. The traits that Ireland is looking for when he evaluates the QB position are arm strength, athletic ability, toughness, and smarts. One of the QB’s that has drawn a lot of interest from the Dolphins over the last couple of months is Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. Ireland admitted that he and his staff has spent a significant amount of time being “very thorough” trying to dispel some of the rumors that are associated with Mallett. Ireland assured everyone in attendance that all the quarterbacks that they have interviewed have “been put through the same process” so that they can compare apples to apples.
This year’s draft will mark the first time that Bill Parcells will not be in attendance to assist Ireland in the draft room. Ireland talked about the significance of having a guy like Parcells as a mentor and his “sense of awareness in the draft room”. Something that Jeff is aware of this year is how slanted the draft board looked after last year’s selections. It was defensively heavy and with number one pick Jared Odrick and 4th round selection A.J. Edds missing playing time last season due to injury, the Dolphins should feel like they have two extra picks already moving into this year’s draft. I believe that the Dolphins will have the mentality to go after the best players you can possibly get and if that means trading up or back to get your guy, you go for it! The Dolphin staff will play there own version of the “mock draft” to get prepared, but I believe Jeff Ireland has his own thought process and a vision of where he would like this team to be after the draft.
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