Ireland's bold move lands pass-rushing Jordan

Dion Jordan was selected third overall

DAVIE - How 'bout a big round of applause for Jeff Ireland?

No?

Come on, folks. This was a good night for the Dolphins general manager. It was exactly the kind of first-round surprise the Dolphins haven't sprung in years and precisely what you wanted.

You wanted bold? Trading up from the 12th pick overall to take Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan at third overall was the boldest move of Thursday's first round.

You wanted smart? Ireland shrewdly moved up high in the draft by simply flipping those first-round picks and throwing in a second-round pick, the 42nd overall. That's cheap.

You wanted anything sexier than an offensive lineman? Jordan is that. At 6-6 and 248 pounds, he brings the physique, the speed and the full-body hope of another – yes, dream away - Jason Taylor for the Dolphins.

Finally, you wanted Ireland's job to be on the line? If it wasn't through all the free-agent signings, he couldn't have made it any clearer than pushing so many poker chips to the middle of the table and betting on Jordan.

Here’s the main point of this: You have to like Ireland’s thinking, even if you don’t know whether Jordan will work out. He did his job. He fell in love with a player at an impact position the Dolphins need and got him for good value.

About five minutes into Oakland’s 10-minute draft window, Ireland called with a trade offer. That was rejected. But Oakland called back less than a minute later and proposed the trade that was accepted.

“I said, ‘Sure,’ Ireland said.

By the trade-value chart teams follow, this move came at a discount, too. The Dolphins were supposed to have to spend both their second-round picks and a sixth-round pick to move up that high in the draft.

“I figured it would be a buyer’s market,’’ Ireland said.

Look what hole the Dolphins filled, too. They needed a pass rusher opposite the one elite player on the roster, Cameron Wake. They need someone else to get in quarterback Tom Brady’s head if they want to beat New England. They need to get faster and more athletic on defense.

All that’s the hope for Jordan.

“There’s nothing better than to draft a guy you really love,’’ Ireland said.

You also were told immediately how this can fail. ESPN's Jon Gruden, who loves almost everyone, immediately brought out a full-face scowl that said he wouldn't have taken Jordan this high.

One fear was Jordan didn't play enough downs in Oregon's system. Another fear? Jordan is "one-dimensional," Gruden said, as a pass rusher who simply runs around offensive lineman.

"Teams will be waiting just to chip in with a running back and take that away,'' Gruden said.

Welcome to the NFL, kid.

"A big surprise,'' Jordan said of the trade, "but I feel very blessed to be a Dolphin."

The Dolphins had two prime problems last year: Scoring touchdowns on offense and causing turnovers on defense. Having a second pass rusher should increase turnovers.

"That's one of my strong suits, getting after quarterbacks,'' Jordan said.

So why'd he only have five sacks last year at Oregon?

"My position, what I did, was part of that,'' Jordan said. "And I guess I missed a few."

So there's work to do. And quickly. Being the third overall pick in a draft means instant production is expected. You have to like the idea that  the one area the Dolphins have developed players in recent years is on assistant Kacy Rogers' defensive line.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, all the talk and all the expectation was for the Dolphins to take an offensive lineman. They addressed almost every other area in free agency, after all.

After the first two picks in the draft were offensive tackles, the Dolphins made their trade and the instant analysis was they were grabbing the last elite tackle in the draft, Oklahoma's Lane Johnson.

So Jordan was a surprise. A shrewd, bold, roll-the-dice surprise that the Dolphins haven't made in years.

Give Ireland credit for that.

Any more credit will have to wait on what Jordan becomes.

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