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With the NFL Draft fast approaching, Miami Dolphins general manager spoke to the media about his staff's preparation for the NFL's annual extravaganza. He said he has not ruled out any option with the eighth overall pick the team holds, meaning the Dolphins could conceivably trade up, trade down, or use the pick on the best player available.
He did not tip his hand regarding which players the team covets. Only a fool would do that.
Ireland said he has been working from 7am to 9pm every day for the last three weeks arranging all the players available in the draft into one "big board" with players ranked by attractiveness and positional need.
Having used free agency "to build depth," in Ireland's words, the team wants to find an impact player who can start right away with its first-round pick, the eighth overall in the draft. He also wants to find starters in the next three rounds.
"I think all the picks are extremely important but second, third and fourth-round picks, those guys need to be starters or significant role players," Ireland said. While he called himself "stubborn enough to think I can hit on every single one of them," Dolphins fans might quibble with that characterization.
That certainly was not the case in 2011. While first-round pick Mike Pouncey ended up starting all 16 games last season, second round pick Daniel Thomas (for whom the team moved up in the draft) was a minimal contributor, gaining 581 yards in his rookie campaign. Fourth-round pick Clyde Gates (the Dolphins traded their third round pick in the Thomas deal) had two receptions last year.
To be fair, Ireland said he really needs to succeed only 55% of the time for his drafts to significantly improve the team.
Ireland thinks this year's draft is particularly strong at wide receiver and offensive line. Having shipped Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears last month, Ireland will surely need to use one of his early picks on a receiver.
Separately, the Dolphins announced that the start time for its September 16 home opener against the Oakland Raiders has been moved up from 4:15 pm to 1:00 pm. The change was made by the NFL to accommodate for the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana, which begins at sundown on the 16th.
The change also gives the team an added advantage against the Raiders, who will likely be unaccustomed to Miami's humid September weather.