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?
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.