View Full Version : How the Dolphins draft

02-06-2009, 03:40 PM
So much chatter on what the Dolphins will do in the upcoming NFL Draft focuses on position and particular players. "They need a receiver and should take so-so...". I used to think the same way, too. Then I sat in on a Q&A session with GM Jeff Ireland this past November, and my perspective changed.

"Youíve got to let the chips fall where they are", said Ireland. "We didnít go into the (2008) draft saying we were going to draft three defensive linemen and two offensive linemen. Thatís the way the board was stacked, thatís what the strengths were in the draft. You draft the best players on the board that fit."

"Every draft is different. We donít stack the board with 257 players. We stack the board with less than 150 players", Ireland explained. "We actually draft horizontally, by position. So you might have a tackle with the same grade as a receiver, with the same grade as a safety, with the same grade as a quarterback. So if theyíre all a similar player (grade-wise), you can bypass certain players because of need."


02-06-2009, 06:27 PM
Nice find.

02-07-2009, 10:58 AM
Yes that's a good article, but Ireland has said that numerous times to anyone who would listen. As for the 150 players, the author has that part wrong. It's not the 150 'best' players, that's not it at all. Many teams have different draft boards and most have more than 150 players on them.

What Ireland means is that certain players will be taken off the draft board and the final draft board will be whittled down to 150'ish as players are taken off in the days leading up to the draft. Ireland & Co. certainly scout extensively more than the 260'ish drafted players. Here's how it works.

Some players simply don't fit our system, such as a 5'11 tall 215 lbs linebacker, so while he might be on the draft board of a 43 team, he will not be on ours as an LB. Unless he can play in the secondary and/or is a great special teamer, he's not going to be on our draft board. We heavily discount players with injury histories. That's why a prototypical stud OLB like Brian Cushings would be a phenomenal player in our system, but he might not even be on our draft board because of his injury history. More likely, they'll keep him on the board and severely downgrade him because of his injury history, to the point that he'll be picked by another team long before our draft grade comes along. Cushings is the real enigma though, because he is EXACTLY the type of player we're looking for, so we might just take the chance on keeping him (and his salary slot) healthy if he's available at 25. But, for a 4th round talent with the same injury history, that 4th round talent would likely not be on our draft board.

Then there are the intangibles, such as the passion that Ireland mentioned. Think about the DT from Texas last year with all that ability who just seemed not to be interested enough to develop it ... chances are he wasn't even on our draft board because of his lack of passion. Plenty of ability, but no fire in the belly.

Lastly, there are the real red flag guys. Someone who is simply a disruptive influence in the locker room or a criminal risk in society. Parcells tends to take a chance on these guys, so I dunno where the cut off is for them, but we're very forgiving in that department. Still, there are guys we will leave off our board for these type of issues.

So in the end, it has nothing to do with the 150 'best' players, it has to do with probably about 800 players scouted, and of the ones who declare, most are simply not fast enough, big enough, or flat out good enough to make our draft board. The ones who meet the physical mold and have been productive in college then become our initial draft board. Then that is whittled away as I've explained above until we end up with our 150'ish final draft board.

Ultimatley, most of the decisions have been made before the draft happens, but since not every team has the same criteria for making those decisions, we see what we refer to as "reaches" or "suprises" etc. on draft day. There may be players we passed over that make us all scratch our heads, but rest assured the players we do draft make sense for the Dolphins.

02-07-2009, 05:18 PM
In short all Jeff Ireland is saying is we draft the best player available by need.

02-07-2009, 05:36 PM
long.merling.henne.langford. (4 picks in the first 66.)subtract wr chris chambers value.
next comes murphy.parmele.thomas.hillard.dotson.

hard to screw up the #1 pick overall. merling/langford combined for 57 tackles 3 sacks.
henne???? and the rest of that crop... no real contribution. lotta people rave about last years draft.
but frankly starting from pole position i wasn't all that impressed. FYI. jets starting cb dwight lowery was a 4th rounder.

02-07-2009, 07:46 PM
I like the criteria Ireland uses to find players. Parcells put him in a great role. He's a smart football guy and is becoming a sharp executive. It's hard to put a Dolphin mock together without seeing Ireland/Parcells reaction to player interviews. I think Clay Matthews and Jarius Byrd would do well.