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Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to set the right things in motion and yield the desired result. That is precisely what led to the Miami Dolphins landing Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan last night with the third overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Before some fans watching from home got comfortable on their couches, Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland threw caution to the wind and engaged the Oakland Raiders in discussions over their selection. Miami held the 12th pick in the first round plus a slew of other picks so Ireland had plenty of chips to barter with.
Owner Steve Ross was sitting in the draft room at the team’s training facility and actually thought Ireland was kidding when he mentioned reaching out to the Raiders. Ross was fully onboard with the player the Dolphins coveted, having taken an informal poll of Ireland, Head Coach Joe Philbin and the other coaches after a dinner last week.
Based on simple research of previous drafts, the consensus among those in that draft room was that the price to move that far up in the first round would be too high. So the owner tempered his enthusiasm, especially after Oakland spurned Ireland’s first offer.
“Everybody thought, ‘Hey, we’ll never get him.’ Sure enough when they called back I think everybody in that room was shocked,” Ross said. “This is an impact player. There’s nothing better when you’re really drafting and you’re getting what you think with the third pick in the draft is the guy who you really loved. It’s a great day and the value, giving up as little as they had to give for him and looking at the numbers and how they assess things, this is incredible.”
It had been nearly a decade since the Dolphins felt the desire to trade up in the first round, and that time it was only to move up one spot. Miami swapped its 20th overall pick with the Minnesota Vikings and sent its fourth-round selection (119th overall) to use the 19th pick on offensive tackle Vernon Carey in the 2004 NFL Draft. In fact, Miami's trade to the third overall selection marked the first time that the team has traded up into one of the top three spots in the draft. Previously, the highest pick the Dolphins had acquired in a draft day trade was the 14th overall selection in 1984 when they moved from 26 to 14 and selected linebacker Jackie Shipp.
Every regime takes a different approach when it comes to trading draft picks during the draft, and the regime at that time was very active in that regard. Ireland has been known to be a little more conservative, opting to use most of the picks at his disposal, but he knew he had some reliable intelligence regarding Oakland’s intentions.
“I made a call before the draft just to let them to know that I was interested in maybe getting up,” Ireland said. “And then I waited for about I don’t know five or six minutes while they were on the clock and there was no call from them. So I called and just asked if they were looking to move the pick. They said they were open for business. I offered my first offer and they said, ‘We’re not interested.’ So I waited another 45 seconds to a minute and they called right back, asked for (No.) 42 and I said, ‘Sure, we’ll do it.’ And that’s how it happened.”
Without revealing the intricacies of his draft board, Ireland confirmed that Jordan started out that high based on his evaluation and those of his scouts. He added that “there weren’t very many” other players he would have moved that far up for.
Miami still has its other second-round pick (54th overall), two third-rounders, one in the fourth round, two in the fifth round and three seventh-rounders to make use of over the next two days.