Many of you enjoy getting your info straight from the source, without filtration.
That's why I try to give you the unfiltered version of what your owner, General Manager and head coach has to say about the Miami Dolphins.
Here is what GM Jeff Ireland has to say about the 2013 NFL draft, and how he'll approach upgrading the Dolphins.
(On how excited he is about what happened in free agency and heading into the Draft) – “Well, we’ve got a long way to go. Free agency’s not over. Obviously, we like the progress. We felt like we’ve made some progress. There’s been a lot of work that went into it obviously. I’ve got a lot of people to thank. Actually, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my team, obviously, up to this point, our personnel department, our football administration, in particular, (Executive Vice President of Football Administration) Dawn Aponte and (Manager of Football Administration) Ryan Herman, my right hand guy (Assistant General Manager) Brian Gaine, (Assistant Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Shea. Coach (Joe) Philbin and I worked extremely well together during this process, along with Dawn, and it’s been a lot of fun to work with them. It’s been a lot of busy work, a lot of ups and downs in the process, but nothing we weren’t prepared for. But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got some holes to fill.”
(On having a lot of draft picks and how that impacts what can happen during the Draft) – “It really hasn’t changed too much of the preparation process. I don’t think I’m going to go into the Draft with more guys on the board or anything like that. We’ll still attack it in the same process we’ve always done and obviously we’ve got to be more prepared to take more players. Obviously, you have options to, I like to use the word ‘ammunition’ to kind of go up if you wanted to and certainly there’s opportunities to do that and there’s also opportunities to move back and move around. So we’ve had a lot of opportunities to do that as well.”
(On how the free agent acquisitions have impacted the team’s needs going into the Draft) – “I think it gave us a lot of flexibility in the Draft. Obviously, I think we helped ourselves in the front line in certain areas, obviously at the wide receiver position (by) getting Brian (Hartline) back, adding Mike (Wallace) and Brandon (Gibson). Adding that to Davone (Bess) and some of the young players we have, obviously that helped us in the wide receiver position. I think that’s a strength of our team now, one of the strengths of our team. Certainly from a depth perspective, Vaughn Martin, Lance Louis, those guys helped our depth. Brent Grimes, adding Brent to the schematics, obviously helps some of the front line things. I think going into the Draft or coming out of free agency, at least this part of free agency, has helped us from just having a little bit more idea of just being able to do what we do in the Draft, and that’s hopefully just picking the best player that we feel like marries a need if we can and not have to reach for anybody.
(On if it’s essential to select a cornerback high in this Draft) – “Well, I don’t want to say it’s essential. Certainly, I’m not going to pinpoint myself exactly where I’m going in the Draft, but I think a corner, I think corners can be selected and have an active role just about anywhere in the Draft. That’s one position that, they develop differently and you can find them, just like Brent Grimes, you can find them in free agency. You can find them in the fourth, fifth, sixth rounds obviously. I don’t think that’s particularly a position you have to have to take high.”
(On his philosophy on drafting a need versus taking the best player available) – “We don’t draft vertically. We draft more horizontally. I don’t go through the board and say, ‘This guy over this guy over this guy over this guy over this guy.’ I don’t do that. I have the draft more horizontally by position (and) by round. So if you’re in a position where you have a guy at guard and you have a need at guard, he’s up there, but you have maybe two other players at the same value then you might take the guard because it’s a player of need. But you may have two or three other players that have the same value as that player, but it marries the need. The value marries the need. That’s basically how I go into it.”
(On if he views Jonathan Martin as Jake Long’s replacement or if he will replace him through the Draft) – “You basically answered the question for me. There’s a lot of options still open. I’m going to let my coaching staff pretty much decide at the end of this process where Jonathan Martin plays. I think what we do have is a flexible player, a versatile player that can play left, that can play right. I think his development has been good. I think he’s got a long way to go to play right or left to be a really, really good player. That’s what we want him to be. Obviously, we have all of our options open. There’s still free agents on the street. There’s still guys in the trade market that are available and then we have the Draft that’s two weeks away that certainly we could go that route as well. Obviously, I think we’ll probably be active in maybe one of those pieces and maybe more.”
(On the offensive line in the Draft and how far the position falls off after the first round in terms of quality) – “I think it depends on how many guys you have in the first round. If you only have two guys in the first round, then the second round is probably pretty strong. I think there’s a good level of guys that have a lot of experience, that can come in right away and play. And then there’s some really good players that may be a little bit further down in the Draft that have the potential to play and be really good in this league, that may not have the level of experience that you’re looking for early. I think that’s the beauty of this Draft is that there’s some at the top, there’s some second and third round that all can, at the end of maybe a year, that you have exactly what you’re looking for.”
(On having ammunition to be able to trade up and how high up he could conceivably go) – “I’ve got enough ammunition to get to the first pick if I wanted to, but I don’t see myself doing that personally. I don’t know. It depends on what’s there and we haven’t gone through the process of (figuring that out) and talking to other teams at this point and seeing where we would go up or back. Right now, we’re trying to get the board right and we’re kind of grinding through the process. We’re in our second week of Draft meetings. We’ve got about six more days left to kind of finalize the board and so, at that point, we have about a week-to-10 days to kind of work the kind of the nuances of moving up (and) moving back. So we’ve got a little ways to go.”
(On having five selections in the first three rounds and the options that brings) – “Yeah, you have to play out all of the options. That’s what we’re in the business to do is look at your contingencies. I can certainly sit here and say I’m going to have three players out of the five. I can certainly say I’m going to have six players out of the five. I think there are certain levels of the Draft that are really attractive to me. So I think all options are open, absolutely.”
(On when he would be willing to deviate from his approach to select a player) – “When a player is still on the board high and you may have passed him by once or twice because maybe you’ve gone to a need, maybe. I’ve been in a couple of drafts where there’s a guy sitting there and it’s not particularly, it’s not a need, it’s not a must, it’s not a want. He’s just not a position that I have in my radar. So sometimes you might not draft a player that you have a high grade on. Then, you go two rounds and that guy’s still staring at you, I’m probably going to go get that guy.”
(On how much his philosophy of what kind of player he would select has changed with Coach Philbin coming in) – “One of the things I liked about Joe in the interview process was that he and I see players pretty much the same. Schematically is where maybe it’s changed. Character and makeup, those things, we see very much eye-to-eye on. I’m probably a little bit more of a risk taker than maybe Joe, but we certainly see eye-to-eye. We want guys that are highly competitive. We want guys that have a specific combination of intangible ingredients that form a desired football personality. That’s absolutely what we’re trying to look for. Schematics are obviously different, maybe form a defensive line standpoint, maybe from and offensive line standpoint.”
(On how the development of the tight end position has changed) – “You kind of mirror what the college game is doing right now and the college game is spreading out. So you’re getting guys that the college game is playing with. There’s not many traditional ‘Y’ big blocking tight ends that are playing with them. Certain programs have them and certainly you really study those programs that are playing with those kind of tight ends. But the tight end position all together has gotten very athletic. It’s gotten fast. It’s gotten big. It’s gotten athletic. And I think that’s made the NFL trend that way too. I think there’s some very athletic, big, fast tight ends that are making a lot of plays in this league and so I think you’ll see obviously the NFL going that way.”
(On drafting core positions high and if tight ends are becoming a core position) – “It depends on your coach sometimes. It hasn’t necessarily been a core position. I think it becomes a core position when you may not have other pieces to your offense. I think you’re trying to control the middle of the field in some cases and if you don’t have kind of the horses on the outside that control the perimeters, then you certainly want to be able to control the middle of the field and, in a lot of cases, you want to be able to do both. But I wouldn’t call it an absolutely core piece.”
(On if he’ll be comfortable with not having an offensive tackle by May 1) – “I feel very comfortable with Nate Garner. I feel comfortable with some of the young developmental players. Obviously, I could look at the whole offensive line in particular, we’re going to try to upgrade the offensive line as whole. Where we do it (and) how we do it, right now, we have a really good core of players with Jonathan and Richie (Incognito) and John (Jerry) and obviously (Mike) Pouncey, and I think Nate’s in that core group of guys at this point. Behind them, we have a very young group of guys that don’t have a lot of experience. So we need to add depth there. We need to add some experience. We certainly need to add some talent on the offensive line.”
(On if he’s inclined to take more risks in the Draft because he has a lot of selections this year) – “I don’t want to go into it thinking that way. I really don’t. I would really kind of, more or less, to kind of go about it in the way I’ve always gone about it. I think you could think that way, that you could take a risk, but I’m still going to go into it trying to get really good football players that have a high upside that we can develop that are our kind of guys and I think, if you go into that way, then I think you’re going to come out the best way.”
(On whether he wants to exit the Draft with quality or quantity) – “It depends. I mean both. You would like to have a bunch of good players. That’s what you would like to come out of it with. It depends on how the board falls. You know if the guys that you have on your board are clipping off at a fairly high rate, then you’d better go up and get what you really like. Again, the Draft falls differently every year. It’s very hard to predict how it’s going to fall. We start trying to predict how things are going to fall right about now, and we’re just now getting through the process of strategizing.”
(On how he views his 30 official Draft visits) – “I think everybody does it differently, and I‘m one of those everybody. Again, I don’t have a strict philosophy about how I do it. Sometimes I’ve got a guy that I need a little bit more medical information on. Some of the guys I didn’t get a chance to visit with them at the Combine, or I did visit with them at the Combine and didn’t get the information I wanted. There’s no rhyme or reason. Some guys I have a lot of interest in, and some I guys I have no interest in at all, but there is really no rhyme or reason.”
(On why he brought Manti Te’o in for an official visit) – “Well I think Manti is a good football player. We had 15 minutes with him at the combine, and so I think he is a good football player that is going to be drafted, and in that particular case, I wanted to spend some time with him. Kind of get to know a little bit more about the whole process he has been through, how he has handled it, and how he is moving forward with it.”
(On whether this draft is more important than past drafts) – “Well I mean we have 11 picks, and that’s why it’s important. A lot of time, a lot of planning is put into this offseason not only just for the draft picks, but to this point to have the cap space and the draft picks in the same year, a lot of thinking and a lot of planning went into this. But the fact that we do have 11 draft picks and five in the top three rounds, that’s important. It doesn’t come around very often that you have that kind of clout in the draft. We need to take advantage of it, so it’s very important.";
(On the atmosphere in the war room on draft day) – “Last year was pretty quiet. We didn’t have a lot of action early in the draft, but it can get chaotic. You have guys that have been through it before, and I’ve been in drafts where it is extremely chaotic. I’ve been in drafts with (Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager) Jerry, Mr. Jones, in Dallas where he is wheeling and dealing, and it can be very exciting. In our particular case, we’ve had a couple of different scenarios, and it gets really hectic when you have five minutes in-between each round. Sometimes the phone doesn’t ring until you are on the clock and you have to make a decision (snaps fingers) to trade back, or maybe another team is on the clock and you want that pick. So, I’m telling Brian (Gaine) to call and Dawn (Aponte) to call and Chris (Shea) and I’m calling, you know did you make the trade? Did you call the league? Did they get the phone call from the league? A lot of things have to happen. Did you turn the card in? So it can get pretty hectic. It’s fun, it’s an adrenaline rush no doubt about it.”
(On whether he expects a similar situation this year where the majority of picks in the top 10 are traded) – “It all falls differently. Do I expect it? I think last year was a little unique, but again, we’re all in a whole different time frame at this point with the CBA and the contracts and all that. I think you can take any player, any position and there is no rhyme or reason why you do it. If there is a need and there is a conviction by the team to take any particular position, then you go up and get it. It’s not the losers curse anymore. I think it makes sense to do those things if you want the player.”
(On whether he thinks he needs to address the wide receiver position early in the Draft after how the team addressed it in free agency) – “I like the unit that we have. We have some complementary skill sets that make us a lot better than we were last year. I think there are some good players at that position, but to say that I am going to be active early at that position, I can’t say at this point. I do like where our wide receiver position is obviously. Again, I think the complementary skill set is what we have been able to add to this football team, to what we already had on this football team, are very good. I think it is the strength of our football team.”
(On whether he knows who he is going to pick in the first round of the Draft) – “Not exactly. It’s a little bit different this year. There are a lot of different things that I’m playing through my head right now that Joe (Philbin) and I are talking about. There are still a couple positions that we haven’t actually talked about in our meetings yet. I’ve sent Joe off to watch different guys and said, ‘hey let’s get back together.’ So this is the time we bring our coaches back and try to marry what we see as a personnel department to what our coaches see and the schematics of where they are at. I have a pretty good idea of three or four guys that I am looking at, absolutely.”
(On what Jonathan Martin needs to do to be the starting left tackle) – “I think the offseason for Jonathan is important. You know just getting stronger and getting his technique, his use of hands, (getting) his punch down properly, the timing of his punch. Skill set is not a problem. This guy’s got great feet and he's big enough. He needs to work on some anchor, but he needs to be more consistent with some of the things he is going to see. You’re going up against probably the best athlete per pound on the football field in the right defensive end or right outside linebacker. So, you’ve got to be on your game when you’re playing left tackle in this league. He just needs to work on his consistency.”
(On Brent Grimes’ health and when he expects him to be ready) – “We did our due diligence obviously with a guy coming off an Achilles injury. I personally am qualified as Dr. Ireland at this point. I studied a lot on just the particular injury itself. I certainly like the player. I talked to our doctors, talked to his surgeon or had my people talk to his surgeon, and I think he is in a really good place right now. I don’t want to make any time tables because I don’t know exactly what we’re doing with him when he gets in the building. I know he's doing really well and he's almost to the point, in his mind, where he's ready to participate in the offseason program, but to say when he is going to be 100% or anything like that, I’d have to see him move around a little bit.”
(On whether Grimes’ injury impacts what the team’s needs are) – “I feel good about him. I feel very good about him right now.”
(On whether he is aware of the fact that a lot of players he has picked in the second and third rounds of past drafts are no longer on the team and whether that affect the way he drafts) – “Well I am aware of it. You guys keep me aware of it quite often. I don’t take any different than the way I’ve always gone into it. I’m going to put the board up the way I put it up. I have different aspects of the draft room itself to try and help improve that process. One is my head coach. Brian Gaine is a little more involved in this process. So, obviously you are trying to upgrade the room and the dynamics of the room. Certainly I haven’t changed too much in regard to picking players. I have been doing it a long time now.”
(On how the volatility of the top 10 picks impacts the Dolphins at pick 12) – “I wouldn’t say it’s volatile. I think there are a lot of different scenarios. I think last year, in comparison, you knew where one, two and three were going to go. You obviously had Andrew Luck and you had the Washington Redskins trading up to that pick (number 2 overall) and you knew who they were going to pick, so that’s two off the board right away. I think there is a lot more confidential information right now in the clubs. I don’t think anybody has just come out and said who they’re taking or anything like that. Nobody has shown their hand yet, which is good. That’s the way we all want it to be honest with you.”
(On how valuable it is to find a true press corner in the draft and how deep the cornerback class is) – “Well it depends what kind of scheme that you run whether it’s important to get a press corner. We don’t play a ton of press, but we do play a lot of man-to-man. There is a difference. So, is it extremely important that we get a guy who plays 90% press? No it’s not, but it’s important that the guy we draft can play man-to-man. But also, we play some zone and we play some off-man. Off-man is very difficult. There is a different skill set to that, so finding a guy that can have a pretty good skill set that is not strictly one thing or the other is important.”
(On whether he wants to continue to address offensive line high in the draft after committing so many high draft picks to the position in the past) – “If I get another (Mike) Pouncey and another Jake Long I would do it every draft. Those kinds of guys are pretty darn good. I wish I had a whole team full of Mike Pouncey’s and Jake Long’s to be honest with you. Those guys are really good players. They are productive; I know what I’m getting every single day with the guys. Particularly, I’m not going to pigeon hole myself just to take an offensive lineman. I think we have a couple other positions that we might go after obviously. I think there is going to be a good player for us. I’m excited about going into this draft.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun