Ireland: Long Our Guy From The Beginning

All the speculation ended on Tuesday when the Dolphins held a press conference at their Davie headquarters to announce the signing of Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, who thus will become the first overall pick of the 2008 draft. While several different scenarios were presented over the past couple of weeks, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said it was Long all along.

"Jake was our guy from the beginning," Ireland said at the press conference. "He's been at the top of our board for a long time. There wasn't a whole lot of debate."

Long signed a multi-year deal with the Dolphins, with Adam Schefter of the NFL Network reporting the contract is for five years and worth $57.5 million with $30 million in guaranteed money.

Ireland said Long was the only player with whom the Dolphins negotiated.

Ireland and Coach Tony Sparano -- Bill Parcells was not present at the press conference -- both made it clear they drafted Long to play left tackle. Long made starts at both right and left tackle at Michigan, and some draft analysts speculated his future in the NFL might be on the right side.

"You watch film, the tape doesn't lie," Sparano said. "As a sidebar to the whole thing is the kind of guy he is, but the biggest is when you watch game tape."

On Saturday, Long officially will become the second offensive lineman drafted first overall since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The other was Orlando Pace, drafted out of Ohio State by the St. Louis Rams in 1997.

Ironically, the Rams traded up to get that pick with the New York Jets, whose coach at the time was none other than Bill Parcells.

"It's such a great honor to be the No. 1 pick," Long said. "It means everything.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet. It's something every kid dreams about. When I started playing football, I started dreaming of playing in the NFL and going into college I dreamed about being the No. 1 pick."

Ireland said the Dolphins decided Long was their guy about a week ago, which is when they started negotiations with his agent, Tom Condon.

The two sides agreed to terms on Monday night, and on Tuesday morning Long flew to Miami. Long, who was accompanied at the press conference by his parents, will fly to New York on Wednesday.

Long became the first offensive lineman picked in the first round by the Dolphins since 2004 when the team drafted Vernon Carey, who will switch back to right tackle after starting on the left side in 2008.

Long comes to the Dolphins with impressive credentials. He won Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors twice at Michigan, joining Pace, Korey Stringer and Tony Mandarich as the only players to accomplish that feat.

In his last 26 games at Michigan, Long allowed only three sacks and was penalized only twice.

"I'm just going to come in and do the things I've been doing," Long said. "I'm very passionate, hard-working, mean on the field. I"m very nice off the field, but when I buckle that helmet, I change into football mode."

As for the pressure that comes with being the No. 1 overall pick, Long has no issue with that.

"I like having pressure," he said. "I dealt with that at Michigan. I don't mind it."


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