I'm always amazed when fans can get Miami Dolphins executives to reveal something media members can't during the team's season-ticket holder conference calls.
That happened on Wednesday when General Manager
During his chat, Ireland dropped an interesting nugget I'd never heard in my six seasons of covering him. He pointed out it is a wise strategy to draft the expensive positions and "develop your own" instead of being forced to sign them in free agency.
The five highest paid positions in the
"I've got a lot of ideas and I have a strong idea of what I'm going after, but I just can't tell you Sean," Ireland said to the season-ticket holder. "Certainly, as I've said before, I believe in drafting core positions."
When asked about the draft's depth, Ireland explains he views a deep position as one where the top guys at a certain position will be available in the second and third rounds.
"There is strength in core positions. Pass rushers, tackles, receivers, corners," Ireland stated when addressing the 2013 draft. "I like drafting when the core position meets a need, and it meets the grade. And I try not to reach for a need position if I don't have to.
"We don't draft vertically, we draft horizontally and that's a whole different story to explain that," Ireland said, referring to his approach of taking the best available player based on his tier system.
To explain the tier system briefly - based on my understanding - each player on Miami's draft board is placed in a tier. Elites are tier one. Possible or eventual starters are tier two, then backups and special team contributors, and so on, and so on. Miami uses their draft picks to select the highest tier player at positions of need.
"We definitely have guys we've targeted. We definitely have a certain number of players we've targeted," Ireland said. "There's 255 draft picks that will be selected [in 2013], but we don't put that many players on [our] board. We grind through this [evaluation process]. We eliminate it down to a specific number that we feel like is the number we want to go into [the draft with] and then we even cut that down even further to guys we're targeting."
Ireland and his staff typically take players off the draft board for 1. character concerns; 2. Drug use; 3. Medical issues; 4. Scheme fits; 5. Size or weight concerns. I'm not sure on the order, but I know those are some of the red flag he uses based on
Ireland said the draft is an "elimination process" and the key is to "let the cream rise to the top."
Here are some of the other topics Ireland discussed during the conference call...
"He's just one of the moves that we've made...He's a very good athlete. Unfortunately he tore his ACL in Nov.," Ireland said of
Ireland said "the plan" was to spend a year learning the kind of players coach
"I really liked his principles and core beliefs," Ireland said of Philbin. "It is just time together, and its about learning how to communicate....it is my job to adjust to Joe [Philbin]."....
Ireland said this offseason was about getting
"I like the receiver position as it is building up right now, and we still have the draft to go," Ireland said. "The position as a whole has experience, some explosive elements, some possession elements."....
Ireland pointed out he's moved up in the draft to select tailbacks
"I have a high degree of excitement [in them]," Ireland said, explaining why the Dolphins left
"I like the youth at the position. I like the explosiveness at the position," Ireland said before pointing out he might use a draft pick to select another tailback....
Ireland said there isn't much depth at the quarterback position in this year's draft. "Good quality guys there, but not much depth like last year."
However, he did float out the notion that he could double-down, drafting a young quarterback to complete with Ryan Tannehill.
"I'm very excited about Ryan Tannehill....When we drafted Ryan he had 19 games of experience as a quarterback," Ireland said. "I broke one of my rules....But I was so convicted about the athlete, the arm, strength, his ability on the run.
"His consistency can improve....but I'm very excited about the position," Ireland said. "But I can draft another [quarterback]. You can always have another QB in the hopper."
How much of what Ireland says is a smokescreen, and how much of it is real....that's up to you and his contemporaries to decipher.
But if you listen to Ireland on Wednesday you're certain the Dolphins will draft a receiver, tailback, quarterback, offensive tackle, pass rusher, cornerback. At least that's what Ireland said.