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Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland unfiltered after the 2013 draft

Sun Sentinel

The Miami Dolphins makeover is almost complete.

The Dolphins added nine new players via the 2013 draft, adding to an aggressive free agent period by adding players the team's executives and scouts believe are "good football players."

But General Manager Jeff Ireland openly admitted on Saturday he's not done yet.

Ireland claims the free agent period isn't done, and says the Dolphins will be aggressive adding pieces to Joe Philbin's new team. And from the tone of his message he wasn't just talking about undrafted rookies.

Here's Ireland's entire discussion with the media following the 2013 draft.

“(We) finished up a successful day. I feel really good about it obviously. We drafted Jelani Jenkins in the fourth round from Florida. (He) played outside Will linebacker there. (He’s) very quick, very athletic. I think he’s very versatile. He’s a great kid, very educated, smart. (He’s) going to be a core special teams player for us. He’s going to compete for obviously an outside linebacker position. I think he’s pretty versatile. I think he can back up inside (and) outside, but I think the guy’s got a chance to be a starter in the future. Dion Sims (is) a big tight end out of Michigan State. (He’s) a very intriguing prospect. He’s physical. He’s got very good hands. He’s a former basketball player. You see that on the field. Very intriguing. He played at probably a little heavier weight in college than what we saw here in the last Spring and that’s what really intrigued us about him is he lost some weight, showed us some discipline in that regard and moved around very well in the Spring. (He) had some off the field issues (that) I’m sure you’re quite aware of. We did our due diligence on that. I think that checks out pretty good, so I think that’s all in the past and looking forward to him having an impact on our football team. Mike Gillislee in the fifth round, another running back from Florida. (I) really like this kid. He’s got a very good skillset for the running back position. He can pass protect. Kind of paid his dues there at Florida. He was a one-year starter. (He) catches the ball well and he pass protects. He runs it very well as well. He’s tough. He plays downhill. (He’s) got a really good skillset to translate to pro football. And then, it seems like a little theme today (of) Florida Gators, but (we) drafted Caleb Sturgis, place kicker with our compensatory fifth. Our job is to put competition on the field and there’s certainly going to be competition at the place kicking position. We’re not giving the job away to Caleb or to Dan (Carpenter). They’re going to be in pretty good competition in camp and we look forward to that. And then with our last pick, we picked Don Jones, defensive back out of Arkansas State. This kid really jumped out on the screen for us with his speed and physicality. He played kind of a nickel back for Arkansas State, kind of a hybrid safety position. (We) brought him here on kind of a (pre-draft top) 30 visit and got to know the kid. He was a non-combine workout guy and really kind of liked the kid. We’re going to try him at corner and see if we can put him over there. He’s played corner and safety in his career, so looking forward to that transition as well.”

How much does playing against SEC competition helps players?

“Well, you’re watching them play against players that you know are going to be drafted or players that will be drafted in the future. So obviously the level of competition that a player is playing against is something that we put a high regard on when we’re evaluating players. Obviously, the SEC and any Division I program for that matter, we put a lot of stock into that.”

Did you plan to draft as many defensive players as you did?

“It never really is the plan going in to be honest with you. We try to stick to our board and, when the board comes down to you and you’re kind of looking at the players on the board, sometimes they’re kind of sticking out to you that those are the players that we want to draft. It just so happened to kind of fall that way. Our plan going into every draft is draft good football players and that’s what we did.”

Was there one selection that he was surprised was still available when he selected him?

“It’s funny because, I think Joe (Philbin) and I talked about it, the board kind of fell kind of the way we thought it was going to fall. No one was really sitting up there two or three rounds differently. We kind of drafted the players where we thought they were going to be drafted. (We) feel very good about the value of every player we got in each round.”

How much better do you feel about the team now compared to the end of last season?

“Well, there’s no doubt I feel like we’re a better football team. I think we’ve gotten faster in a lot of different areas. I think we’ve added some playmakers. I think we’ve added some depth and then we’ve got great competition with some players we’ve added to the football team. Certainly, I feel like we’re better and I think we’ve re-shaped it in some different ways. We’re not done yet obviously. The free agency period is not over. We don’t line up and play until mid-July and so we’re going to continue to tweak the roster where we can and we’ll see how things play out here in the next couple of months.”

Are you still be looking for a veteran offensive tackle, or is the offensive line is set?

“We’ll see. We’ll see. Again, I’m not going to tell you my plans, but we’re going to continue to tweak the roster where we feel like we need to do that.”

Did Mike Gillislee made an impression on him at the Senior Bowl?

“I went to Florida myself this year, so obviously all of these Florida guys certainly made an impression on me not only at the Combine and Mike, maybe at the Senior Bowl, (but) just my school visit there too and the relationships we have with the coaches at University of Florida. Obviously, you have some exposure to those players maybe in your home state. We didn’t plan on drafting three Florida players, but, again, they just kind of sat there and we knew them and we have great comfort with them and familiarity with them, and they’re good football players. It’s just the way it kind of fell”

What did you like about kicker Caleb Sturgis to pick him over the other kickers?

“Well, he’s got a big leg. The ball jumps off his foot. He’s very accurate. He’s kicked a lot of field goals in some tight situations, (and) his consistency (and) his makeup for pressure situations.”

How do you feel about the cornerback position after drafting Jamar Taylor, Will Davis and Don Jones?

“I think what’s there is a lot of competition. I think you’ve got some real good veterans that have played very good football in their career. Obviously, we had some guys that didn’t finish the season like you said, but have shown a lot of productivity in their careers. Then, you have some young guys we’ve drafted. We’ve got some core special teams players and guys that have had some highlights in their careers as well. I feel good about the position. I think we’ve got a lot of talent over there. We’ve got to get these guys healthy, which, I think, a majority of them they are and I look forward to seeing how that position plays out. But I think there’s a good mix of vets and young players that can fill out the roster from the cornerback position.”

What did you learn about Dion Sims’ background that made you feel comfortable about drafting him? He is only the second player (Jimmy Wilson was the first) with an arrest in his background you've drafted.

“When you go through the process and a guy has a character question, you just start doing your due diligence. You start making phone calls. You’ve got your security guy on things and he does his due diligence. We do our own due diligence. We bring the player in (and) we start talking to him and we find out what we need to find out and be comfortable with that kind of character issue. We certainly felt comfortable with it. Joe personally spoke with him. I spoke with him. We’re not going to make a big deal out of that here. We’ve done our homework and we feel comfortable with it.”

Do you feel comfortable with the wide receiver position after trading Davone Bess to the Browns?

“We feel good about where the position is, certainly. Again the roster is not 100% set. We’re going to tweak the roster; I’m not saying we are going to tweak it at the wide receiver position, but we’re going to continue to tweak the roster whether it be receiver, offensive line, punter, or who knows. We’re going to continue to tweak it to get it right to our satisfaction going into training camp.”

Can Dion Jordan and Dallas Thomas be ready for training camp due to their injuries?

“I don’t want to put any time-line on their recovery. We certainly felt comfortable drafting them where we drafted them for them to make a contribution this season.”


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