Jeff Ireland isn't naive. He knows he's on borrowed time. The Miami Dolphins' general manager realizes this could be his last draft as the final voice of an NFL franchise's draft room. How many executives in professional sports get six seasons to turn a franchise into a winner these days? Few, if any. Ireland, who came to the organization as one of Bill Parcells' cronies in 2008, realizes his run is coming to an end unless his offseason moves turn the franchise into a winner this year. After all, his contract expires after this season, and owner Steve Ross doesn't appear motivated to grant him another extension, another pardon. That is why Ireland better make this week's draft count. Not only is his career, the livelihood he was groomed for by his grandfather, Jim Palmer, an executive for the Chicago Bears, on the line. But the career and future of more than two dozen executives, scouts and coaches are also at stake. Ross didn't just pump nearly $100 million in guaranteed money into renovating the roster for yet another sub-par .500 season. He's expecting a winning team, and the next three days will likely be Ireland's last chance to infuse young talent onto this fertile roster. "I'm going to go into it trying to get really good football players that have a high upside, that we can develop that are our kind of guys," Ireland said about his goal for this week. "I think, if you go into [the draft] that way, then I think you're going to come out the best way." Ireland had a couple too many "I thinks" in that game plan. After five drafts, many of which were filled with mistakes, he'd better know. It is universally known that a good draft consists of a class that features at least three starters after three seasons. That's the standard NFL executives measure by. The Dolphins have achieved that every season but the 2011 draft during Ireland's run. And it isn't fair to include the '11 draft class, which featured Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas, Clyde Gates, Charles Clay and Jimmy Wilson, yet because this is the season they are supposed to mature. However, if we're honest, it doesn't look too good for that class, which happens to be Ireland's first draft without Parcells. This year, we're raising the bar and demanding the Dolphins leave the 2013 draft with four starters. The Dolphins own 11 draft picks, and the hope is at least half don't turn into Shawn Murphy, an offensive lineman Ireland traded up for in 2008, or Pat White, a quarterback the Dolphins used a second-round pick on in 2009. The key to this draft is what Ireland can do with the No. 54 pick? That's the big swing for Ireland. Can he turn one of the team's two second-round picks into one of the draft's top three left tackles?
Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland on the clock
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 25