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Ireland's choice: Right thing vs. popular thing

You know the scenario. The Dolphins need to become a more dynamic team. They need big plays on offense. They need possession-changing plays on defense and somebody needs to set an alarm under the special teams and coax a kick return or punt return TD out of them sometime this century.

The Dolphins need to thus draft someone that comes with his own personal Batman show soundtrack: Pow. Bam. Kaboom.

We all know this. The Dolphins have admitted this ...

And then they draft a center?

Or any offensive lineman?

Or a safety?

Really?

That is the dilemma Miami general manager Jeff Ireland might (I do stress this is hypothetical) face on draft day in April. We want somebody that will wow us. Owner Stephen Ross wants someone that will bring glitz and glamour and put butts in the seats.

And the best player on the board might be someone that does neither but could still be the best available player on the Miami board. Or the best option in Ireland's opinion. Or Just the right thing to do.

How would Ireland navigate that?

The answer cannot be known until it happens. But be certain it can happen. Simply, there is a possibility the 14 teams picking ahead of the Dolphins pluck the most dynamic offensive players off the board -- guys such as Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert or A.J. Green and Julio Jones or even whatever homerun hitting running back you think is worthy.

And suppose someone such as Florida center Mike Pouncey is the highest rated player on Miami's board at the time. Or maybe OT Nate Solder is Miami's highest rated player left on the board. Or maybe a safety such as Rahim Moore or Roberts Sands is the guy.

Would Ireland have the courage to pick an offensive lineman after the team has spent so many past resources on positions that don't score TDs? Would he be OK with adding to the defense when it's the offense that begs help?

Would he go away from doing the popular thing that will get him applause from folks at the Dolphins draft party at the expense going with the highest-rated guy on his board that perhaps plays a position that excites no one and could get him roasted publicly?

It is a tough call. It is why Ireland makes the proverbial big bucks.

I would tell you the Dolphins had a GM that made that difficult and unpopular call before. Remember in April of 2007, the Dolphins had a good feeling that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn would be available at No. 9. And the Wednesday before the draft, GM Randy Mueller had dinner with owner Wayne Huizenga and told him he would not be picking Quinn because, well, he didn't think Quinn was that good.

Huizenga didn't necessarily agree but let Mueller make his own bed. Mueller made that bed instead by picking Ted Ginn Jr. No, that choice didn't work although hindsight tells us Mueller made the right call not picking Quinn, either. The point is Mueller did the unpopular thing because everyone (including me) wanted Quinn.

Had Mueller picked a good player instead, he might still be employed. Of course, had Huizenga picked a better head coach than Cam Cameron, Mueller might still be employed. Neither happened. But the point is Mueller took the harder public relations road.

I cannot tell you which way Ireland would go. I haven't asked him about this topic. But my thinking is he might also do the more difficult thing, the more unpopular thing, if he thinks it's the right thing. It would make people upset, for sure. It might even make Ross upset, for sure.

But I get the feeling Jeff Ireland is stubborn enough to stick to his guns and go down blazing if he must.

If the player Ireland picks is the right guy -- and shows it right away -- Ireland can survive the storm of making an unpopular pick. Obviously, you make a less popular selection and compound the problem by choosing a bust, you've doubled your pain and you're out of a job anyway.

But you go with the unpopular pick and it ultimately turns out to be the right selection, your reputation is improved long-term.

So what do you think? Would Ireland let his rep suffer a bit at the hands of fans and second-guessers in the short-term? Or would he bow to the pressure and pluck the next QB or WR or RB on his board to satisfy the masses and his owner?

Hmmmm.

We might see. 

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