Ireland And Philbin Pleased After Two Rounds

Posted Apr 27, 2012

Two days down and one to go in the 2012 NFL Draft and the Miami Dolphins actually have more picks remaining than they used.

Thanks to the trade engineered by General Manager Jeff Ireland with the San Diego Chargers that allowed Miami to move down from No. 73 to No. 78, he has an extra sixth-round pick to work with. So with one fourth-round pick, one in the fifth, the two in the sixth and one in the seventh, the Dolphins can add five more players tomorrow.

As for the three players drafted today – Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, University of Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon and Missouri tight end Michael Egnew – each one filled a critical need. Combined with Thursday night’s selection of Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick of the first round, Ireland and Head Coach Joe Philbin are feeling pretty good.

“A lot of work goes into this and you don’t always get exactly what you want,” said Ireland, now in his fifth year as the team’s GM. “When you’re sitting here with four picks you would like to have four first-rounders, but you know that’s not going to happen. We feel great about the four players that we’ve added to our roster. … Some guys are going contribute quickly and some guys are going to take a little time to develop. We have a developmental program in place and firmly believe that with our coaching staff and the vision that our head coach has that these guys are going to become good players.”

Ireland successfully filled his need at quarterback with Tannehill, on the offensive line with Martin, at tight end with Egnew and the need for a pressure player in Vernon. He also appeased the Hurricanes fans that have wondered why the Dolphins haven’t brought aboard more players from Miami.

But if there was one big winner on the day it was Martin, who brings with him the experience of having blocked for the first overall pick of this year’s draft, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and a whole lot of smarts. Martin could have gone to Harvard, his parents’ alma mater, but chose Stanford because of the type of program former Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh was putting together. He left a strong impression on Philbin in particular.

“I really like the guy. When I first watched him right before we went to the Combine the thing that really got my attention was his hand usage,” Philbin said. “I thought his timing on his punch, the things we teach in pass protection with the punch and the use of the hands the timing is the key, and I thought it was exceptional. I think his feet are very good, he’s got good length in his arms so I’m excited about him.”

Philbin isn’t concerned about how Martin might handle transitioning from the left side to the right side but he hasn’t committed to that switch. The coaching staff will start working with him and the other rookies next weekend during the rookie mini-camp and he also was excited about the additions of Vernon and Egnew.

Both Philbin and Ireland agreed that tight ends are getting more athletic and being used more like receivers in today’s NFL than they have been in the past and that Egnew fits that mold. He was used that way at Missouri but also can excel in the blocking part of his game. With Vernon, there wasn’t a lot of film on him from this past season because he was suspended for the first six games and only started the last three.

“Really, I didn’t know much about him until I went to the University of Miami Pro Day and my scouts started saying, ‘you need to take a look at this guy and pay attention to him,’” Ireland said. “My exposure to the player wasn’t as high on Vernon until really he came in here. My scouts were just saying they love him, they love him, they love him and that’s when I really started studying him from this year and last year and our coaches got involved. It became very clear to me that this was a guy that we should consider.”

All that’s left now for Ireland, Philbin and the rest of the football staff is to make it through tomorrow’s four rounds and try to come away with some more diamonds in the rough.