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Star Lotulelei in the first round makes sense (which is bad)

I know Jeff Ireland loves defensive tackles. A lot.

In two of the past three years the Dolphins have used their franchise tag on, you guessed it, defensive tackles -- Paul Soliai in 2011 and Randy Starks this year.

Only days after tagging Starks with the franchise tag, Ireland made no secret to his personnel people that he still wanted to add another defensive tackle because those guys are good to have and he already knew Tony McDaniel was headed out the door. Ireland also sees the defensive line as a Miami staple and he wants to keep it strong.

Ireland has said in at least two drafts that he's always looking for big bodied nose tackle/defensive tackle types because men built to play the position are hard to find.

One of the Dolphins signings this offseason? Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin, who was inked to a two-year deal.

So we've established Ireland likes to have defensive tackles in the fold.

And that leads me to my concern:

That on April 25, sitting at No. 12 in the first round, Ireland will look at his horizontal draft board and see Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei sitting there and he'll pull the trigger.

Lotulelei is by any measure a solid NFL draft choice at No. 12. Indeed, he might be the highest player on the Dolphins board at that time if the selections go as most of the experts have it mocked so far. For example, Mel Kiper of ESPN and the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, Gil Brandt and Charley Casserly all have Lotulelei on the board when Miami picks.

Furthermore, most of those experts have the big man going one pick later to Tampa Bay.

So what we have is the Starman being available and not being a reach around the No. 12 spot where Miami is scheduled to pick.

Then you have the fact the Dolphins like Lotulelei, you have the fact they've met with him privately, you have the fact both Starks and Soliai are in the final years of their deals, and it spells the Dolphins giving serious consideration to Lotulelei. I mean, very, very serious consideration.

And why do you sense tripidation about this on my part?

Three things:

Star Lotulelei doesn't play cornerback. And the Dolphins need to add a starting-caliber cornerback fairly high in this draft because I'm a lot more certain that Tom Brady will be his old self in 2013 while I'm not nearly as certain that Brent Grimes will be.

Star Lotulelei doesn't play offensive tackle. And if the Dolphins want to keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill's head on his shoulders next year, they need to add a starting-caliber offensive tackle in this draft.

Third, Star Lotulelei has a reputation for being very good on plays he didn't take off. In other words, his motor wasn't in gear every play he's on the field. Yes, he's on the field a lot. But I still don't like players that take plays off.

Fourth, and this one is thrown in as an aside because the problem has apparently been resolved, Star Lotulelei had that heart issue during the Indianapolis Combine. And having players with a past history of heart issues (even small and temporary ones) is scary in South Florida where the July and August temperatures are trying even for players with strong hearts.

I guess I'm worried the Dolphins will draft Lotulelei in the first round because he's a value pick and it makes sense addressing a future ... but he doesn't resolve either major need today.

The Dolphins have had no issues addressing future needs this offseason. They replaced Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. But in the face of needing a starting OT and a starting CB (my opinion) are they going to address DT in the first round?

It's possible. Very possible.

 

Comments

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Personnel decisions keep the Dolphins "spectating " instead of "participating" - as long as Jeff Ireland calls the shots, the Dolphins will do as they have - watch POST SEASON play... Tell it like it is...

Nice blog. Hoping like you that this does not pan out. Love your blog yesterday of trading down for an extra second pick. That would be the best. Also prefer to see going Cornerback. or possibly LT if one of top two fall.

Armando,

I would hope that this is a ruse. The Dolphins can fool around more next season but good draft picks for this season will allow this team to get into the playoffs. The Dolphins have to make sure that T'hill is upright when throwing and that he has options at WR in the event one of them goes down with injury. Jeff has done a great job this offseason but look at his draft in previous years after Parcells. Gates, Egnew etc...he has not been good prior to this offseason. The teachings of Parcells sticks with this guy and that's not good.

I think Miami needs a defensive end before cornerback or OL. Both Starks and Soliai could be gone next year. And last spring the media kept pushing for Miami to get Jeff Fisher, Matt Flynn, Kyle Orten....

So, is the sky falling again?

I understand your argument, and I dont disagree.
But It wouldn`t be the dumbest thing Ireland would have done either.

You could not be anymore wrong on the motor issue. That is SO incorrect it is not even funny. You got the wrong DT, Mando. Terrible.

You don't want a DT...fine, but don't tell me that Lotulelei has an inconsistent motor.

He would be a great pick and huge value at 12. I like.

I wouldn't hate it if we grabbed Star at 12. Wouldn't hate it at all.

This team needs skills players . Long #1, no playoffs.Odrick 1st Rd, Pouncey 1st Rd. Starks and Solail Franchise players. Big and Slow does not win championships ever. Dynamic LB's S. CB's change games. QB, TE, WR, HB's score. My bet is they draft an over rated OT and are watching the playoffss agian because NE is scoring 40 agianst our sorry DB's

Miami Dolphins new slogan. Walk slow, drink water!

Here we go with the over thinking the room b.s. again, if this half a** clown doesn't trade down stays at 12 and takes the DT from Utah, then 2014 the Miami Dolphins will introduce the 1.st female g.m in the history of pro sports D.Aponte !! This is the most important draft in team history and he's seriously considering taking a DT really Jeffrey really ? Playmakers playmakers playmakers God D***** Playmakers Period Jeff Period !!

God I hope not. Draft one or sign one next year! We still have Starks and Soliai...I'll be very disappointed if that's what we do...Even more so if Eiffert is still on the board...I'm still nervous with Ireland...Heck, I'd take a RB before a DT...

Star was projected to go top 5 earlier during this draft process. There is no question that he has the potential to play up to that billing. Heck, the kid is projected to go #1 on a mock NFL.com did. If he is still there at 12, you have to take him as the BPA. It is a million times better to draft BPA than reaching for a need.

The only way I can completely agree with you in your opinion is if the Dolphins don't address their needs with their other 4 picks early on in this draft. Then, yes, the Dolphins have a problem if they go into the 4th, 5th round not having addressed OT, CB, and maybe DE.

Jaygun ur n idgit...........go root for jets.......mmmmmmk ......ur shytt is boring......over used n very boring........

Then you have these idiot fans on this blog ssying it's a good pick !! Okay go ahead and when this team is 7-9 again witb no playmakers on xefense we don't wanna hear you dolphin fans saying Jeff must go !! Oh no no excuses dolphin fans for you this year it's either playoffs or bust period !!

If Eiffert, Warmack, Cooper or Vaccaro are available and we take Star, I'm going to lose it...

Be a waste to draft a guy who will only be a part time player this year. What's he going to do win the job over Solai or Starks? I think not. I'd rather have a DB or RB or TE or OT.

I actually for the first time would like to trade down n get another 2nd round pick nothing less than a second .......you can achieve a lot with 3 2s n 2 3s......that I think would b a very good thing in a very deep deep draft................love this direction new logo with old tradition .......of whenst we was dominating ..............go Miami..............

Star Lotulelei is a consensus top 10 pick and perhaps the top rated DT. If we get him at #12, he may truly be BPA. ISnt the idea to go BPA?

You have to see how the draft plays out!!!! Can we wait till Thursday before killing Ireland.

You should spell check your article before you post it. It is a new thing in Word which checks your spelling and grammar.

Tripidation is not a word, but trepidation is. Spell checker will find that for you.

I know we need the tackle problem solved- but we cant reach at #12 for one considering the top three tackles are probbaly going to be gone. Why reach for a CB in Trufant or try to fit a square peg into a round hole (Rhodes)? I can live with the selection of Cooper or Warmack bc they are the best OG available. I can live with the selection of Eifert because he is the top TE by far. I can live with the selection of Austin or Patterson bc they are the best WR available. I can live with the selection of the best safety-Vaccaro. I can also live with perhaps the top DT in the draft at the #12 spot- Lotulelei.

Anyone who knows my posts know..I want to see proven success...aka...stats at every level. I want draftees with production not projection. The bad news is Star's numbers just aren't that great. 9 TFL and 1.5 sacks last year... he was double teamed often but what he won't get that in the NFL? Of course he will.

Give me offensive guys that are a red zone threat and can score TD's.

Hayden Fox,
I don't know if you've been following the draft process at all, but Star Lotuleli came right out and told the media that he took plays off while at Utah. So that to me would be a warning that he has an inconsistent motor. Not trying to be argumentative, just saying that motor and drive are definitely questions with this guy and Mando isn't the only one thinking so.

Sorry 11 TFL's and 5 sacks in 2012...still not great for a player that will be a part timer on this team.

If star is the best player available at 12 takem.

Hell's no Frank from PA not when your franchise only made the playoffs once in 12 years. And the only reason why that happened was because Tom terrific was out for the season and of a flukish tie breaker. This franchise has a golden opportunity to become relevant again. You do the wise and logical thing and trade down, get more picks and fulfil all of your needs in this draft. And you morons in here saying it's a bpa pick all of you morons in here who will support this pick is as ignorant like it's sunny outside the dumbest fan base is clearly the s.florida fanbase !!

Well they BETTER get the O-line straight. Like I said before J. Martin is not a starting NFL quality left tackle. This team's O-line was probably one huge reason why Peyton Manning didn't even consider coming down here to play. And if Tannehill starts off playing wel then gets hurt, its al over.

I think this article is a moot point. Star will be long gone before 12. Besides we will be drafting L.johnson at # 6

You don't draft a player for depth in the top half of the 1st rd. Starr won't be starting neither will Vaccaro. Not high on taking a guard at 12 either regardless of how good he is projected to be that's high for the position.
Take Rhodes...Eifert....Patterson or Trufant.

I just don't see this scenario unfolding. Mr. Ireland take note you will take a beating from the public and national media...if you do something like this with the larger needs this team has at Oline and CB.

..I can't say if Star is a good pick. My gut feeling is WTF??? But that is because he is an interior defensive lineman. Not because I question his ability. I think this comes down to a whole lot of noise. Seriously. Perhaps our interest in Star is to attract interest from other teams to make a deal? I always thought WR. Austin would hold the keys to the middle first round balance. Perhaps it is Lotuleli. Maybe he is the player that can create a bit of trade capital?

..Now perhaps the idea that we are taking a horizontal draft approach is a smokescreen. That the term is so lose it allows Ireland a ton of wiggle room to draft a juggling panda bear. But if it is a true strategy. I don't see how Star comes into pay.

YOU KNOW YOUR A MORON. When you want to draft Desmond Trufant over Star LOL. Star is Haloti Ngata 2.0 Trufant is an average starting CB who may go in the 2nd round.

Miami has too many other major needs to use that high a pick on what is obviously not a major need. Ireland knows what Miami's needs are will address them in the draft.

DE u can't think success until u beat the pats. Brady struggles when pressured. Tom is the top qb we must beat 1st b4 we think playoffs.

If one of the top 5 OL drop to 12, he will be hard to pass on. CB is deeper this year.

IF the Fins 'trade down' past #20 they will likely miss on a starter in a Need or Needs Improvement Position. I understand the 'trade down' gets them a likely second round pick. But they need starters at key positions. The 'trade down' positions them to take lesser players. Don't give me this 'deep draft' b.s. I only support 'trade down' if they stay in top 20 to make sure they address the following positions with guaranteed starters.

Need Positions - OT and CB
Needs Improvement - TE, DE, G, S, RB (Miller, Thomas, Gray are not locks at RB)

Staying at #12 allows the Fins likely access to Fluker, Rhodes, Trufant, Eifert, Cooper, Warmack and Jones. All of them are starting caliber players in Need and Needs Improvement positions. If they use their #1 pick for anything other than these positions I'll be disappointed and questioning Ireland's 'horizontal' approach.

BTW...I hope they don't take Fluker....would rather them use a #2 to trade for Albert.

Dear Mr. Ireland,

Thanks for drafting a QB last year. THILL will grow and show real progress this year. Can't be happier to have him as a starting QB.

Thanks for adding playmakers in Free Agency this year. Wallace, Grimes, and Keller were great adds.

Thanks for upgrading our LB positions with younger and cheaper options.

Thanks for not overpaying for Bush, Long and Smith....I know these were tough decisions for you and I applaud the outcomes.

Thanks for locking up Starks for another year. He has been solid. Lets see if he can become great.

Thanks for keeping the Hartline/Bess combo to keep the chemistry with THILL.

Please don't trade up for LT and waste the draft picks you worked hard to accumulate. Just trade a second round pick for Albert, signing a proven top 10 NFL level LT who can protect THILL's blind side for the next 5 years.

Please do not trade down below #20. You need to stay in the top 20 to ensure a starter is added at either OT, CB, TE, DE, G, S or RB, which are your Need and Needs Improvement positions this year.

You DON'T need to upgrade at DT this year. You have very capable vets playing that position this year. Let them play this season and decide if any of them are worth keeping and investing further in. If not pick some up in FA or the draft next year.

Please stay focused and complete would should be your best offseason to date.

Go Fins!


I really don't see them picking a DT in round 1. Whether you trade down in the 1st round or stay put at #12, I'm not a believer that you draft in 2013 to set yourself up for 2014. Ireland has never done this. His track record has always been to draft the biggest areas of need for the upcoming year, not for anticipated needs the year after next. You can always resign Starks and/or Soliai in 2014.

Don't be stupid, star is dirty, but I highly doubt that the fins let solia and Starks walk next year... And asking as one is kept (solia) we have odrick waiting in the wind who is better at putting pressure on the qbs and he's young, cheap and ready to go back to his original position, I think the only reason Starks was tagged this year was to see if he out plays solia so next year they will know who to resign or possibly tag again... Anyway, odrick, Starks or solia with randle and Vaughn as back ups is STIll dirty, we don't need star, I really want to see a push for fischer

Just read Omar Kelly's 2.0 mock draft, and I like it. He has the Dolphins,at #12,taking Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame. Now that's what I'm talking about. A play making tight end that we have been lacking for way too many years. IMO

Mando, are you dumb? Getting Staror his colleague Sheldon Richardson would be awesome first picks. pressure up in the grill of Tom Brady. A rotation of Big Paul, Randy, and Star/Sheldon would be more than any NFL interior offensive line wants to face. This would be an aweosme pick for next year and many years to come. Draft best player available. And Star and Sheldon are the best players at the top of the first round that don't play LT.

Have to disagree on this one. A DT would be a good pickup for the future (if he pans out, same said for any draft pick). Only 1, maybe 2 CBs have a 1st round grade so that will be addressed in the 2nd/3rd. Probably the top 3 T gone by 12 and picking another would be a reach. G/S/DT/T/TE Probably going to be one of those if they stay at 12. If Warmack is there, that is who I would take. Guy is just a beast.

Sorry Mando, but I think you're off base about the need for a CB. Cornerback is NOT a priority position.

Anyone who was paying attention when Nick Saban was here should have learned that, if you have a good enough pass rush, then you can get by with OK corners. You only need elite corners if A) you're always playing press-man coverage or B) your pass rush stinks. So, the idea that the Dolphins need to upgrade at CB instead of selecting Lotulelei is based on some poor reasoning. They need to upgrade their pass rush, which IS something Lotulelei will help with.

Furthermore, I am sick and tired of hearing people in the media blow sunshine about how great Tom Brady is. The fact is that Wes Welker was the guy who made that who made that video-game offense that New England has run over the last 6 seasons work. I'll point out the fact that in 2008, without Brady, the Pats still produced two 1000 yard receivers and scored 43 offensive touchdowns. 2013 is going to see Brady come crashing back down to his "career norms" from before Welker and the cries of "we need to upgrade at CB to keep Brady in check" will be muffled.

Im sticking with my opinion that by adding a pass rusher opposite Wake that will elimate the double teams on him, that ONE addition will help the ENTIRE DOLPHIN DEFENSE including the defensive backfield.To draft a CB that will make more of an impact IN HIS FIRST YEAR than a Pass rusher on a team that has an all-pro at one end is more of a reach IMO.

@ mace taggert, you are a buffon dude! Mando THINKS they might draft Star, and you just flat out attack Ireland like he said he was drafting the guy. You need to grow up and show some semblance of emotional intelligence.

He has the best tape of the tackles, the kid from Florida Floyd is expected to fill out then become better, but right now Star is the best and would give you excellent pressure up the middle, possibly 5-8 sacks got a motor that just don't quit. He is a better pick than Rhodes at #12

Mark,

I'm kind of with you there. DT doesn't sound sexy, but why do the Pats get rid of EVERYONE on defense except Vince Wilfork? With that said, NT in a 3-4 is more important than 4-3 DT's (IMHO). And who's to say Star is going to be Vince.

My point is, I'm fine with BPA. Whether it's a DT, OL, CB, DE, WR, S, pretty much every position but RB and K would be fine with me. I don't care where or when or how we get these players, I care how they combine to form a team and whether we get stars (at any position) or a bunch of role players.

By the way, I talk a lot about Jake Long being the wrong pick in '08. It also shouldn't be forgotten that '08 was our ONLY year in the Playoffs in a decade, and besides Long and Ronnie, the only offense we really had was an 'end-of-career'-ex 1st rd QB (Chad Pennington). And you see what he was able to do with the team. If you have a competent QB, and an adequate line, and at least 1 playmaker, you can make things happen. We still have holes we need to bolster, but we're in a pretty good position to play inspired football in 2013.

This draft is extremely deep in the CB position, I see no reason to take a CB early. And everyone knows my opinion on taking an Olineman at 12, so I not going to keep repeating myself. If Eifert, Vacarro or Ansah is still there at 12, it would be worrisome to take a guy like Star over these guys

If Lotulelei is the best player on the board i would take him. Why? Because one he is the best player(don't reach)two- it is a need not as big as OT or CB but it is a need. Third nex year we can let Starks go and save 8.5 million.

A beautiful day in Miami but I miss New Jersey. It's hot as h.e.l.l then a storm comes out of no where. A little to stuffy for my liken. So far the food has been great. Sad to say you don't see as much of Dolphins gear out here as other cities rep their teams more.

The one Dolfans can count on is Irescum to make the wrong decisions.

Armando:

I don't like Star as the pick at 12 however I like him more than a O-linemen. I still think we need another Wr or 2. TOUCH DOWNS WINS GAMES.

Bobby, here's my thinking on linemen (drafting them early):

In '08 it was a mistake because we had pressing needs at QB, which is MORE important than a LT, and with the #1 pick you have to have sh*t-for-brains if there are talented 1st-rd QBs to be drafted to take anything but a QB.

In '11, Pouncey was the right choice. Go check that Draft, you'll see no one taken in the 1st round after Pouncey that is more of a star than he is.

There should be no definites in draft philosophy. There are so many scenarios where picks make sense one year and not another. I think the way this offseason has played out, with the FAs we brought in, the vets we lost, the strength of this draft class, taking an OL in the 1st round isn't the worst possible choice.

Now, if that OL doesn't become an elite player, then yes, in retrospect it will be a missed pick. But that's on the GM to choose wisely. I'll be happy with any player we choose as long as they become elite.

Bobby, Star got more sacks than Ansah last year ... just sayin ...

A DT who has the potential to rush the passer is a true game changer.

Didn't we see haloti Ngata ruin the last Dolphins home playoff game??

I like the three left tackles but if theyre gone then Eifert, Sheldon, and Star are the next in line then the two guards, then Trufant. That's my line of priority.

The team has gotten considerably worse this offseason losing 10 starters to FA. Combine that with a tougher schedule and these guys will be lucky to win 5 games next season, IMHO.

Star would be a great pick here is he falls. Gotta go BPA on this one rather than REACH for need, like Rhodes or Vaccarro (puke). Besides, it's a screaming need next year. if Johnson and Cooper are gone, hand in the Star card or trade down if a Great offer is presented .

As far as value in the draft it's stupid all the way around. The team has a need and you should try to fill it. Even if it's a want take that player.

As Armando said we had a chance to get Moss and have him with Dan. That's value to me. Taken a o-linemen 1st over all when you need a QB is stupid. Even if Long never gave up a sack. It's still stupid. A blocker can hold his blocks but for so long. Just as a cb can cover a wr but for so long. So I would rather have an explosive wr that can get open fast.

I would take tds over blocks all day.

The CB and DE debate is an ageless one. It could be argued that pass rush puts less time for the QB and therefore can make the CB better. The other side argues that a shut down corner allows the defense to focus on the middle and other side.

I think we need BOTH. I feel that today CB is a bigger NEED position and DE is a Needs Improvement position.

CB - Carroll? Marshall? Grimes? Patterson? Stanford? Really, who is the guaranteed starting player here? I like adding Grimes, he is the best at the position but coming off an injury and uncertain. Marshall and Patterson both were hurt last year and neither showed consistent high level play before getting hurt.

DE - Wake....stud!! Odrick - first round pick already invested in him and he puts up about 6 sacks. Vernon....draft pick invested last year and he shows ability and potential.

Yes, I see DE as Needs Improvement and would love to see an upgrade. But CB is a MUST HAVE NEED POSITION this year. Preferably someone who can play zone and can catch the damn ball.

If you want TD's and a much improved offense then draft Matt Barkley QB USC with the 12th pick. He is this years Andrew Luck and a steal at #12.

Ireland knew what our biggest need was last year, but didn't address it until the en of the draft. He's said you can find starting corners anywhere in the draft. He likes his core positions OL, DL etc. etc., we desperately need a pulling guard and more competition at LT. I'm on the record that our pick is o-line and might involve a trade up.

Ireland needs his 1st rounder to start games this year, not be a backup.

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