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Jeff Ireland in his own words -- all of them

So here it is, the entire thing for your reading pleasure. I present to you the entire Jeff Ireland pre-draft press conference.

Before you invest some time on that, kindly check out my column in today's Herald on the topic of what I believe the Dolphins should, and in fact, will do in the draft next Thursday. Tell me if you agree in the comments section.

(Opening Statement) – “First of all, I would like to make an announcement, you guys got the release that we have promoted Brian Gaine to the Director of Player Personnel. I am very pleased about that. Brian has been a guy that has been a great asset to me in Dallas as well here. I think it is appropriate that he gets elevated to help me with the draft obviously. In free agency, he is going to be my right hand man since Bill has left. He has been my right hand man really since I had him in Dallas. I am very pleased with him. He is a strong evaluator and I am glad to have him in the position he is in.”

(On Brian Gaine’s role and strengths) – “Where Brian’s strengths are marrying the free agency to college. He is a guy that in the last year that Bill has left…it hasn’t been a year, but I got out him out on the college side of things. He does some evaluative things. I give him the top 100 list of players to evaluate. He helps marry what is out in free agency to what is out there in the draft and so there is not only my eyes doing the exact same set of things, now there are two sets of eyes doing it, so we will collaborate together in that process.”

(On how Brian Gaine’s duties will change with the promotion) – “They change a little bit for certain. He was pretty much over the pro side of things. I am going to have him really help me supervise both college and pro.”

(On putting together draft board with draft taking place before free agency) –“In preparation with the draft board, it hasn’t changed too much. You still put up the board pretty much the same way I have always put it up. Free agency doesn’t affect how you evaluate these players. It affects your strategy. I think that is the most important thing that it affects your strategy going into the draft. Normally by this time, you have hit some musts or some needs or some things that you needed to put on your team. Now it is kind of wide open. Your musts, your wants and your needs are all there and you just have to supplement it with free agency after the draft.”

(On how concerned he is with running game and if he has to draft a running back) – “Not necessarily. I don’t feel that way that I have to. I am going to go into this draft pretty much the way I always go into it. I don’t want to reach for players, just to fill a roster spot. You have to be smart. Free agency will open up again. I do know that. Brian Gaine has reminded me a thousand times that free agency will open again. I go through the draft the same way, not the same way, but pretty much the same way in the fact that I don’t want to reach for anybody and I want to make sure that I get the right contributing players for this football team.”

(On how dynamics of draft room changes without Bill Parcells) – “Well, Bill brought a sense of awareness to everybody in the room. He had an aura about him. He always made it fun, but everyone knew when it was time to get down to business. That hasn’t changed, but I am not naïve to the fact that I don’t have that aura, but the mechanics have not changed. As a matter of fact, we probably are more focused on just work most of the time, because there are usually some storytelling involved in the draft room with Bill, so it is focused and the mechanics of it really haven’t changed as much.”

(On what kind of position he is in having inventory to make a trade and if he is restricted by the current labor situation) – “We are not allowed to trade players. That’s one thing. That restricts you. We don’t have a second round pick, that’s obvious. So you are a little bit restricted to go up for sure, but I am game for anything. If there is a player that we feel and when we are done strategizing that we feel like we need to go up and get, you always have some ammunition you can use. My phone is there. It can ring anytime to trade up or back. It just has to be the right time and right player.”

(On trading for active players) – “You can’t do that.”

 

(On trading players once the opportunity arises and a Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached) – “I haven’t really thought about past the draft and trading for players and things like that. That’s going to open up too at some point, just hasn’t been an active thought of my thought process leading into the draft because I know I can’t trade players.”

(On whether the lockout puts a greater emphasis on drafting NFL ready prospects) – “I think it does put an emphasis on it. I think you certainly want players that you’re confident with conviction that they can learn and come in right away and not need just a ton of the process to get it moving in the right direction I should say. There is more emphasis on that in my opinion.”

(On the communication he can have with draft picks once they are selected) – “I’m not so sure I can even talk about it to be honest with you, about the rules and everything to be honest with you. I know I can call them. I know I can call them and say congratulations. I don’t think I can call anybody after the last pick of the draft. I think I’m supposed to have no contact after the last pick of the draft.”

(On whether he has a general philosophy on drafting a running back as high as pick number 15) – “Yeah I do have a philosophy about it. I don’t know if I want to tell you my philosophy about it. I think that like most players…everybody says you can find running backs later in the draft. Well, you can find receivers late in the draft, and you can find guards late in the draft, and you can find tight ends late in the draft. It goes for every position in my mind. I think if you look at the top running backs in this league over time, they’re going to be first and second round picks. I do know that.”

(On whether that is the same with quarterbacks) – “Yeah, that study is probably accurate as well.”

(On what the main thing he looks for while evaluating quarterbacks) – “You know, you’re looking for all of it. You’re looking for Peyton Manning. You’re looking for Tom Brady. You’re looking for all those things, obviously. You’re looking for arm strength. You’re looking for accuracy. You’re looking for a quick release. You’re looking for good footwork. You’re looking for intangibles. You’re looking for smarts. You’re looking for mentally tough. You’re looking for all those things, and you just have to go through the process of evaluating that when you’re with the kid, watching through tape, watching tape with the kid. There’s a certain process that you go through, and we felt like we’ve done our due diligence there.”

(On whether an effective running game is more based upon the running back or the offensive line) – “Well it’s a team sport, so I think that good teams have, good running games have the combination of a good offensive line and a good running back. I think you have to have a combination of both.”

(On how thoroughly they have investigated Ryan Mallett and his impressions of Mallett) – “Well I have spent a lot of time with him, not going to deny that. I went there to visit with him. He’s come here to visit with me and to visit with him as well. I feel like we’ve been very thorough in that, in that process, much like we are with every player that we are considering drafting. Sometimes when there’s information out there you want to dispel rumors and get as much information that you can with any player out there, and that’s why we went through the process. He’s a nice young man, very talented kid, got a bright future.”

(On the current quarterback class) – “I think it’s good depth. I like the players that are in this draft. I think there’s good depth there. I think you can find a good player. I don’t have a crystal ball about what kind of players they’re going to be in this league. There’s a lot of things that go into that play, but I think it’s a good depth group. I think there’s, I think there’s starters to be had.”

(On how using seven of eight picks on defense in last year’s draft affects this year’s draft) – “Well I think with last year, to be honest with you, I wasn’t really aware of, until the end that it was seven of eight picks to be honest with you. It wasn’t the strategy that we had that we’re going defense, defense, defense. It’s kind of the way it fell. The draft board fell that way, so this year going into it I’m obviously more aware of what we did last year. The board has to fall the right way. You can’t, you have to either go up, go down, or stay put obviously, but I don’t feel like I have to just go out and get certain, certain positions. I don’t feel that way. Again, free agency is going to open up again. I feel like we’d be an active player in free agency if that was to, when that time comes, so I’m going to try to draft good players that can contribute fast.”

(On if it will be more difficult to get the second round pick that was traded to Denver last year back due to the labor issue) – “I can’t tell you what the mindset of the other teams are; I think that there will be quite a bit of movement though. I think there will be movement, you just never can tell. You are going to get the same answer from most GM’s, you are going to have to see how the board falls, where the movement is. I feel confident where the strengths of the board are, at least our board, and I am going to try to stay in those particular rounds as much as I can because that’s where the strength is, according to our board. It may be different with other places.”

(On if he is uncomfortable going into the draft without a second round pick) – “Yeah, you wish you had it, for sure, but I know I got a great player out of it to. So last year that was the right thing to do and I am glad we got the player, but now I’m ‘dangum I wish we had that second round pick’, but you pay for what you get. We got a great player and I am very proud of that. The great thing about this year is we really have an extra first round pick and an extra fourth round pick, because neither one of those guys have played, (2010 first round pick) Jared (Odrick) and (2010 fifth round pick) A.J. (Edds), so those two picks are really going to impact this year’s draft class more than last year.”

(On if a running back by committee lessens the value of the position compared to years past) – “Lessen the value? No, I don’t think so Omar, I don’t think it lessens the value. I think you have to go after as good a player as you can, because you never know when that player is going to get hurt in this business. I don’t think it lessens the value, I think you after the best players you can possibly get. Right now, we only have two running backs right now on our roster, you don’t know if you are going to get another one and another one at some point, so it doesn’t lessen the value, but no.”

(What are the tangible skills that you look for in a running back, do you separate the position by styles) - “Tangible skills? Well certainly with a running back you got to have instinct. You got to have quickness. You got to have vision. You got to have low center of gravity. You got to be tough; those are, I think those are critical.”

(On if he feels more prepared with the Draft this year compared to years past because there is no free agency) –“Certainly it has allowed us to focus on one thing, and it’s been all hands on deck, it really has, we have used everyone on our coaching staff, every person on our scouting staff. It has been great focus, great evaluative efforts here, so my hats off to my entire coaching staff and everybody in the building for that matter who has helped me focus on it. So yeah, I think you are prepared for it for sure.”

(On where he is in the draft process as a result of the ‘All hands on deck’ approach) – “Yeah, you know we started off like gang busters, we go from eight to eight and eight to nine and we just go real hard and we got ahead of ourselves a little bit so we kind of slowed down a little bit. The great thing is I can give my staff off for Easter, so they got a little bit of a break for Easter and then we go back hard come Monday. So we are right where we need to be, to be honest with you.”

(On how many Mock Drafts they do and if he looks at other peoples mock drafts) – “Yeah I really don’t look at too many of them up until about now. I start looking at a few certain ones that have a little merit to them. We start ‘mocking’ ourselves this week, that’s pretty much ‘the hay’s in the barn’ and now its strategizing and things like that were , trying to do. So we start ‘mocking’ and that just gives me a little bit of a thought process, a little bit of vision of what might happen. I have never ‘mocked’ and been satisfied with it, usually the draft actually leads to better results than the actual mocking does. My scouts, when we ‘mock’, they know my board and sometimes there are players that are not on my board that get drafted and those are the things that you obviously can’t predict, but I do look at them, they are fun to do.”

(On the way the 2011 schedule looks) –“I think there are some tough stretches, obviously, I am happy we are opening up at home on Monday Night, that’s exciting, against the Patriots. That’s extremely exciting. It’s one of the best teams in the league, your opening on Monday Night, you’re at home, we have something to prove at home, so I am very excited about that, and that’s all I have really looked at is game number one. But I think the schedule is good, we play on Thanksgiving it kind of a little bit of a homecoming for me, and I thought the schedule worked out nicely for us.”

(On if there are many stretch the field running backs in the draft) – “However we find it, we need to try and find it. I don’t know that we will and the answer could be on our team right now because we have some guys that didn’t play. So I am not sure. There are a handful of guys there that can run, now how they fall and whether, now there is no science to this thing, so whether or not it’s there or free agency or any of those things.”

(On how he feels about the 15th overall selection)

“The number itself or the pick itself (laughing).  I mean the pick is great.  I’ve always joked around with this but regardless of where you are picking in the draft, in my opinion, you usually are two players short of what you would need to get that pick.  And so, in other words, you never have 15 players that you’d love to have at 15.  You usually have 12 or 13 and so you’re betting on someone else being picked.  Whether you’re the 27th pick, you never have 27 players.  Or the fifth pick.  You never have 5.  Only one time that I had just one…the first pick and obviously I was proud of that one.”

(On if they are better served moving down in the draft) – “Like you said it’s the same in every draft.”

(On if he gave every quarterback the same test he gave Andy Dalton) – “Every quarterback we went to look out was put through the same process.  You have to do your homework that way.  We didn’t send them a playbook.  We send them kind of a study guide.  So we put every single player through the same process.  You’ve got to be able to compare one apple to next apple.  And so that’s what we did.”

(On how much weight he puts on the combine vs. the playing season) – “I’m a tape guy.  Video guy…what do they call it these days.  It’s not tape.  But I watch the video.  I’m a tape guy.  I’m going to go by what I see on that video tape and how they play the game.  Football players play football and obviously you want to verify what you see on tape with the combine numbers and things like that and sometimes it opens your eyes; a performance at the combine would open your eyes to something that you’re not seeing on tape.  And so you get back and you watch it again, but you want those two to marry together.  I put more weight on what I see as a football player playing the game of football.”

(On going up or down in the draft) – “I have a fairly good sense of who I would take at that spot.  There’s no doubt about it.  I mean I think if you can come down to two or three guys.  So, yeah, I do and you know there are also scenarios to go up and get a guy if falls or go down two or three guys are not there.”

(On how much information out there is misinformation)  - “First of all I don’t know if I believe even if I told him exactly what I was going to do.  Because I think there is misinformation out there.  I don’t think the misinformation comes from the player itself.  I think sometimes misinformation, its rumor, its hearsay.  It’s from someone that they thought they heard sometime, I don’t think it’s all on purpose sometimes.  I couldn’t tell you how much is misinformation.  I can tell you that some of it, a small portion of what you hear out of our building is misinformation.  So, but I can’t tell you what the other stuff.  I don’t know what other than misinformation other teams are putting out there.  But I’ve got to go by what I see.  I’ve got to go by what I’ve been able to gather from my scouts and myself, my coaching staff and that’s the information that’s most important to me.

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