OK, the Dolphins' top pick won't be a wide receiver, considering ... "I think that is the strength of our football team now,'' Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland said. And their No. 12 pick doesn't have to be a cornerback, considering … "I feel very good about him right now,'' Ireland said of free-agent signee Brent Grimes' recovery from an Achilles' injury. In the next couple of weeks, you'll hear every side of possibility for this Dolphins draft: of how they should trade up for one of three top-rated offensive tackles; of how they need another cornerback; of how the big tight end will work; even how a guard is the best buy. Ireland, of course, is under the microscope again. It seems every offseason that's the case. Some of that's well-earned. Some of it is due to this offseason's treasure trove of free-agent money and draft picks. Ireland sounded more relaxed Thursday than in recent years, perhaps because this offseason has answered some crucial problems already. And, it's true, any NFL team can look as if they've spent their way out of trouble in March if they write enough free-agent checks. But best thing you can say about Ireland's work thus far this offseason is how the Dolphins have married what free agency offered to the draft's strengths so that they don't desperately need any particular position with the top pick. Oh, they need help desperately. They need offensive linemen. They need a cornerback. They need across-the-roster talent upgrades after four consecutive non-winning seasons. But what they mostly need is the biggest chance for a star with the 12th pick, someone who sticks around for a decade, considering they haven't kept hold of such a player since Jason Taylor. That was 1997. Taylor, of course, is retired now. That's how long it's been. And they're not going anywhere until they get a handful of players of his talent. The biggest question of the draft, really the key to it, is Jonathan Martin. Who is he? Or, better, what is the second-year Dolphin? A left tackle? A right tackle? At season's end, a Dolphins insider said how Martin struggled to become comfortable for 12 games at right tackle and instantly warmed to left tackle when replacing the injured Jake Long over the final four games. Most draft analysts have five offensive linemen — three left tackles and two guards — going before the Dolphins' pick. If one of them falls to the Dolphins, however, Ireland figures to wrestle with a decision. "We're going to try to upgrade the offensive line as a whole,'' Ireland said.
Dolphins' Ireland has given himself draft options
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 12