Jeff Ireland Talks NFL Draft

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland addressed the media on Friday with the obligatory pre-draft press conference, but it's not as though he revealed any secrets as far as the team's strategy. In addition to the draft, Ireland touched on the Jason Taylor situation as well as the idea of the Dolphins pursuing Michael Vick once he's reinstated into the NFL.

Here's the team-released transcript of Ireland's press conference:

On the biggest thing he learned from Bill Parcells: "I can't say there is one thing. I learn something from Bill every day. I just learned to stay close to the football side and don't let the other things that are associated with the job interfere with what got you here. That is the main focus that I try to do; to stayclose to player evaluations and player acquisitions and making sure players are being developed."

On the team's level of interest in signing Jason Taylor: "I think you have to look at every possible situation at this time of the year. I am not going to tell you about our level of interest right now. I would say that you have to look at all of these things. Players in particular like Jason who is going to be 35 in September; you have to look at whether veteran players are progress stoppers for younger players. We have to look at that. Economics have something to do with it. Being so close to the draft, you have to look at what is available in the draft. I always say ‘you never know what is falling off the tree' and there is an acorn down there. We are looking at it. I am not going to say that we are not, but the interest level is something that I won't comment on."

On how much the media driven feud between Taylor and Parcells will play in a decision to bring him back: "Not much."

On if the draft board is set: "We haven't even gone into meetings yet (laughing). We start meetings tomorrow. We have a large portion of our meetings concluded before the combine. I have my board and I don't post it until the scouts get in which is today. We start tinkering the board and we go into some serious draft meetings coming up tomorrow."

On if there is a proverbial "age limit" on the team: "It depends on the health on the player. There is no doubt about it; you have to have younger players on your team. You want to build through the draft. That's a strategy and philosophy that this trio has felt real strongly about as many times as we have been together. Age does make a difference as well as longevity, how many more years a guy can play and if a player is ascending or descending."

On thought process behind signing Jake Grove and trading Samson Satele: "Jake is a player that we studied throughout the draft and we liked him in Dallas when he came out. He was a player that in free agency that we liked. In regard to Samson, I have a lot of respect for what Samson did here. He is a good player and good kid. He is a high character guy and I like him very much, but we needed better consistency at the position. Without going into specific details, that was the main thing we needed. Better consistency."

On what are the most acute needs during the draft: "We have needs at a lot of different positions. To give you what those exact needs are goes into strategy which we are not going to talk about. Our greatest needs are players that fit our system. Our greatest needs are players that think the way we think; that want to be here and have high passion and high character. Those are the greatest needs that we have on the team."

On how the evaluations have gone at wide receivers for the draft: "It went good. We just didn't look at receiver though. We looked at everyone; offensive lineman, safety, cornerbacks and running backs. We looked at a lot of different players. I think we looked at about 35 different players last week. All of those evaluations went well."

On difference of preparing for this draft as opposed to last season when he didn't know the team: "The greatest thing is that you know the team better. I know this team a lot better going into this year's draft after going through a season with these players, specifically in draft or even free agency. That is the biggest difference. You know where your needs are more specifically. Nothing really changes in your preparation for it, but you know where your holes and needs are."

On how much weight you put into the combine than the season as a whole: "I tell my scouts all the time to not get wrapped up in the numbers game and the workout warriors of this time of the year. During this time of the year you can get wrapped up in numbers because that is all you have to go on. As far as the rankings on the board, it is player specific. But how they play is everything to me. How they play the game and how they compete. That is going to be where I put the majority of stock going on the board."

On if there ever was a player that he knew raised or lowered his stock significantly at the combine or not at all: "I would never say never, but I wouldn't say a player going into the fifth round that worked out great at the combine became a first rounder. Maybe a free agent that ended up being a seventh round level type guy. Obviously, you want a 4.4 guy more than a 4.7 guy playing a specific position. This time of the year it helps certain players. It doesn't help all players. It is how they play the game."

On if the team has a true No. 1 receiver: "Right now it does. It is Teddy (Ted Ginn, Jr), it's (Greg) Camarillo. Those are the receivers that are #1 and #2 or #2 or #1 right now. We obviously need to upgrade a lot of positions and receiver is a position that we need some depth at for sure."

On his evaluation of the current receivers as a whole: "This time last year, we didn't have (Davone) Bess. We really didn't know about Camarillo. We brought Ernest (Wilford) onto the team. Obviously, Ernest didn't get a lot of play time for specific reasons. I think that it is a position we have to look at. There are some really good players there. I think there are some guys that can ascend. I think Brandon London is a guy you look at. He is 6-4, 215, he runs good and plays his tail off on special teams. You look at him as a guy that can compete. Teddy is going into his third year and I think it's time for him to really show what he was drafted here to do. Camarillo is coming off an ACL so we are trying to see what he can do. Ernest is going to have a chance this year and we are going to try and get him going. I think the position as a whole has some really good players there, but they need to come out of there shell a little bit and show what they can do."

On if Brandon London has an emphasis to get stronger: "I think all of the players are trying to get stronger now. I wouldn't say it was an emphasis."

On his thoughts at cornerback spot with the signing of Eric Green and loss of Andre' Goodman: "Obviously, Andre' was a big loss. Andre' was obviously great last season. He was a high character guy that bought into our system. Eric is really in a similar position that Andre' was in last year. He has been injured a couple of years and hasn't really been able to get over the hump with the injury type things. He is a terrific athlete and high character guy so Eric is going into this season similar to Andre'. I think he is going to buy into the system. He has starts under his belt and I look forward to seeing him compete."

On his perception of the cornerbacks overall: "We have three undrafted free agent corners there so it is a position we are going to have look at like every other position. When you have three UFAs going into a position, you have to look at the draft and free agency. We have Eric and we didn't get some of the other guys we looked at. There is Joey Thomas who I think has tremendous ability. Will Allen is here. He is a terrific player for us. Nate Jones did a terrific job for us. Jason Allen is going to have a chance to compete again. It is kind of like the receiver position. There are some young players there that have to come out of their shell a little bit. They need do show what they can do."

On if he sets "size molds" on the draft board: "I think you are firmer more on your higher picks and loosen more as you go. We are pretty firm on certain rounds and more firm on certain positions. I think Bill and Tony (Sparano) and I think the only way to be dominant in this league is to be big, be strong and be powerful, so one of the keys to our success is to be big."

On if he sets these molds on high contact positions: "That is going a little bit into to our philosophy. I would say you have to be big in the trenches. It is a battle in there. There are size battles in every position that we try to follow. Again, we are firmer around high draft picks than lower draft picks."

On drafting college captains and if that process is part of finding players that buy into a system: "You are looking for high character guys. You are looking for that type of make-up. Not only captains, but usually those captains have that make-up that we are looking for. That is a coincidence, but that is something you are looking for."

On how much disagreement is there between him, Tony and Bill and if these happen frequently leading up to the draft: "Every day. It happens all the time. We have disagreements on a daily basis that we debate regularly. The system that we have works that way because we are always debating each other. What if this? Hypothetically this? Devil's advocate here. That's why I think we work well together because no one's feeling gets hurt when we argue another point."

On how disagreements get resolved: "We just have to sit in a room and convince each other. There is some persuasion going on and sometimes the proof is in the pudding when you put on the tape. That's why you sit in the room and you nudge them. That is the main thing. We do get in the room and we resolve it that way. If we are not usually all in agreement, we look the other way."

On if any disagreements carry over to draft day: "Usually not about a particular player. It's probably sometimes a scenario there that may be this player versus this player. Once the players go on the board at that particular spot, you usually don't argue whether a player deserves to be there or not."

On if Stephen Ross will be in the war room: "I am sure he will. He did last year."

On the number of team's drafting players for a 3-4 defense: "It's like any position to be honest with you. If you are looking for quarterbacks, you have to see what teams need quarterbacks. Certainly, when Bill decided to go to a 3-4 many years ago, it was because many teams didn't run it. That is the reason we went to it in Dallas. Now there is roughly half the league running the 3-4. Not every team runs it the same way. Some teams run the 3-4 in a gap control defense. Some run it in a two gap defense. There are certain players that fit those 3-4 defenses better than others. You know that going into it and there is a strategy behind that. It is like anything else. We are going to strategize our board based on the team's needs and we are going to try to get in front or behind certain teams to get certain players."

On what Stephen Ross does in the war room and if he will be a spectator: "Yes. He will take it all in. I don't think he has watched a whole lot of video (laughing). He is certainly interested in players. It is a science to him. We try to educate. It is an education for a new owner and we try to educate on how we go through this process. He is very interested and again he is our owner and we want to educate him on what we know because he is trusting us to put the board together."

On if Stephen Ross is different than Jerry Jones in the draft room: "Yes. Definitely (laughing)."

On status of Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley: "I think Donald is a 100 percent healthy. I think Justin has got a little ways. You are going to have to talk to Tony. We have a policy here that Tony is the only one that talks about injuries. I know Donald is doing real good, I have seen him down there and Justin specifically is doing well. I don't know what his timetable is."

On finding nose tackles: "I think it's difficult. I think they are hard to find. I think the ones that are dominant are hard to find. I think it's very difficult to tell you how many guys are in the pool this year. There are a few. But there's usually not very many of them in every draft."

On why nose tackles are hard to find in the draft: "Well how many guys do you see walking around the street that are 6-4, 320? There's just not many. There's just not many guys. I just threw out 6-4, 320 lbs. Again those are all just numbers. That's what Fergie (Jason Ferguson) is. He's 6-4, 310 I think. You like those kind of bodies."

On if it makes a difference if they played nose tackle in college: "Well, you can project a guy. There are not many 3-4 teams in college football so you're going to move them from the three technique to the zero or using them in one technique to the zero. So there's a little bit of projection going on but that's the draft. It's a projection."

On if the progress of Donald (Thomas), Justin (Smiley), and Camarillo coming back from injuries impact his strategy going into the draft: "Not too much. If they were significantly down and we would know that and that would impact it but I can tell you that's not the case here."

On if it's harder or easier to go from 11-5 to championship caliber than it is go from 1-15 to 11-5: "Well, I think the accomplishment we did obviously was extremely difficult. It's never been done before. I don't want to take the accomplishment from what we did last year as an easy task. The task to becoming a championship caliber team, there's one every year and they're usually different and so that's a monumental task. Both are tremendously difficult and that's why the people in this business work endless hours doing what they do. The coaches are tireless workers. So to say that the task that we have in hand right now it's monumental. But our goal is every season at this time is to win the division. That's what we tell our players. You've got to win the division to go anywhere. And that was our accomplishment last year. That will be our goal next year…to win the division."

On how close they are to being a title contender: "You know, you've got to see all the pieces to the puzzle first. We've got some work to do. I think Tony said in his press conference we're still in the still in the rebuilding and I would say that's 100 percent accurate. We're still in the rebuilding process but I think what Tony was able to do this last year in rebuilding the culture and the attitude and the accountability in the locker room is close to being championship caliber."

On how much head faking and misinformation is put out there: "Well, I see a ton in the paper. I see guys that we've worked out and guys that are coming in here that I'm like calling my scouts saying did you work this guy out and they are like no I didn't work that guy out. Are we visiting this guy…no we're not visiting this guy. So I'm just making sure I'm not missing something so I think there's a lot of misinformation out there. Even from our own people."

On what he projects from a college star trying to make it as a professional wide receiver: "Well, you're looking for work ethic for sure. Our biggest need is bringing players that think the way we think and work the way our players work. It's no different at wide receiver than it is at running back or offensive line. Again, this is projection. We're projecting players that have never been in the league. It's a task that we take very seriously, but wide receiver there's just so many of them. There's more receivers than any other position so there's more players to fail and less to succeed in my opinion. They come in all shapes and sizes and they mature at different areas. That's a difficult one. So there are a lot of guys that succeed but we're looking for guys that can run. That have been explosive and I think the main thing is that they had production in high school. They have production in college and production is one way you can try to mark that as a success rate."

On how much he factors who the quarterback is in looking at the receiver situation": "Not much. Receivers got to separate. If he's got to have quickness to separate. If he can get open it really doesn't matter who's throwing to him, to me. That's a critical factor for us is a guy that can separate. Separate versus man coverage."

On if the Dolphins have any interest in Michael Vick: "Well, I would say that we don't right now. We have three terrific quarterbacks on our roster and I'm not really interested in going after Michael. So I really don't want to comment further than that. He's still a player on someone else's roster. So I'm not going to go any further than that."

On the Wildcat aspect of a player like Vick: "From a Wildcat standpoint, yes. I would say any player that had those kinds of qualities from a wild cat standpoint would be intriguing but there's so much more than just wildcat qualities that go into that wildcat position."

On other teams being successful on offense without being productive on the ground such as the Colts, Patriots, Steelers: "Well, I think they have all tremendous quarterbacks. The Colts and Steelers, they've got great quarterbacks and they've got good receivers that can separate. So I think that's one of the reasons that they have a lot of success."

On projecting how a receivers will at the professional level: "Some receivers play in certain schemes and certain systems. Certain receivers you'll see playing more of a pro style offense and certain divisions or conferences play more man coverage and some play more zone. So you are looking for specific type of things that a receiver will do and some receivers just don't ever see that and so there's more of a projection in regard to what you're looking at. So you have to watch a little bit more tape and project it. Some conferences play a lot of man and so you see them separate versus man more. There's a lot of different variables that go into wide receivers as much as every position."

On how much being able play Wildcat will raise the stock of players: "Well, I can't tell you what other teams are going to do. Specifically I think Pat White is a terrific player. He's a terrific leader. In terms of how he fits in our offense again that's strategy. I'm not going to talk about it or where we have him on the board for that matter. He's certainly a great athletic. He certainly has a lot of qualities that are intriguing to a lot of teams and I think whoever drafts him is going to have a great player."

On if there is more room for a player like Pat White in the NFL: "Funny you say that because I was watching NFL Network the other day. I was watching a 1999 NFC Championship game. I think it was Vikings vs. Atlanta and they were back in the wildcat back then."

On if it's changed that much: "I think we just had tremendous success with it last year. I just think that what it did for our team got a lot of publicity but I think it's been around for a long time. I think it's going to be around for a lot many years."

On quality depth at wide receiver: "I think there's depth there. I think the draft changes every year. Every draft is different. This year it's a revolving thing. I think last year was there a number 1 wide receiver last year. I don't think there was. This year there could be a couple. And so I think it's a revolving thing. There's depth at that position. It's not as deep as other positions but there's great quality in other positions. The draft , it's a great science. That's why we do it. That's why we put 365 into it."

On the depth at cornerback in the draft: "I think there's good depth there. I think there's players that a lot of teams are going to like. You have to like every position you have to look at not just the guys on the first day but the guys on the second day and you look at the history of the league and there's players that are playing in this league that were free agents, fifth, sixth, seventh round draft choices at that position so you've got to do your home work and I think that's the case in every draft especially this one."

On what the next three weeks will be like: "Long days and short nights. There'll be a lot of debate involved. Bill and I were watching tape together pretty much on a daily basis. Tony and I will sit down and watch some here. But now we are all here in the same room with our scouts. We're collecting information. We're constantly debating it. Sometimes louder than others. It's a fun process but its long days and short nights and a lot of strategy that goes in to it. We have a blast doing it though."

On moving up and down the draft board: "I think you would have to get the board set first and again that would be talking about strategy. I'm always interested in going up. I'm always interested in going back, anything can happen … these are clichés, baby (laughing)."


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