Ireland: First Round Was Not Surprising At All

Posted Apr 26, 2013

Lack of offensive skill players taken in first round was anticipated by GM.

Last night marked the first time in half a century that not one running back was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft – and there were only 12 teams making 14 picks back in 1963.

By the time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked off the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for the last time, only five of the 32 names he called were offensive skill players. Just one quarterback was chosen, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel by the Buffalo Bills, sparking some debate among the pundits over the perception that this has become a passing league.

Don’t count Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland among those questioning that notion, as he had some foresight into what might happen this time around. That’s what general managers and personnel guys do, lots of research into what the needs of the other teams in their division and around the league are in addition to their own.

“Quite frankly it didn’t surprise me too much. It came off fairly about what we thought to be honest with you,” said Ireland, who signed two wide receivers (Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson) and a tight end (Dustin Keller) in free agency. “It’s kind of a unique draft but as you go through it and you start putting the board up, that’s kind of how we had it. So it’s not surprising at all.”

Still, the fact that more than twice as many offensive linemen than skill position guys went off the board is not something to take lightly. Five of the top 10 picks line up in the trenches on offense – three tackles and two guards – and there were a total of eight offensive linemen taken among the top 20. Four wide receivers went in the entire first round.

Ireland has presided over two first-round picks on the offensive line in his role with the Dolphins, taking left tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick in 2008 and center Mike Pouncey three years later with the 15th. So he clearly understands the value of talented pass protectors and run blockers on that side of the ball.

“If you follow the draft over the last three, four, five years, the tackles go fast. Offensive linemen go fast,” Ireland said. “I think back in 2007 or 2008 I think eight of them went in the first round. So I think over the last five years there are at least five that go in the first round. That trend has certainly kept up for sure.”

As long as Ireland is keeping up with those trends, he will continue to be able to accurately predict what’s happening in front of him in the draft and behind him.

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