Miami Dolphins: Grading All of Jeff Ireland's Drafts

Richard SantamariaCorrespondent IIJanuary 12, 2013

Miami Dolphins: Grading All of Jeff Ireland's Drafts

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    On January 2, 2008, the Jeff Ireland era began for the Miami Dolphins.  He has now been Miami's general manager through five drafts and has been widely criticized for the Dolphins' lack of improvement during his tenure.

    Some argue that Bill Parcells called the shots for three of Ireland's drafts. 

    Regardless, Ireland will be entrusted with the very important 2013 class.  Is he an underrated scapegoat, a fool, or something in between?

    I present to you an analysis of all his drafts as Miami's GM.

My Scoring System

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    I will decide whether any given draft choice was fruitful or a bust.  The higher the draft pick, the higher the expectation.  A wise first-round pick will be worth one point and a first-round bust will be worth seven negative points.  Inversely, a decent seventh-round pick will be worth seven points and a seventh-round failure will be worth one negative point.

    Here is the scoring breakdown:

    1st 1 -7
    2nd 2 -6
    3rd 3 -5
    4th 4 -4
    5th 5 -3
    6th 6 -2
    7th 7 -1

    I'm keeping it simple.  Let's see what we get.

2008 NFL Draft

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    1 Jake Long 1
    2 Phillip Merling -6
    2 Chad Henne -6
    3 Kendall Langford 3
    4 Shawn Murphy -4
    6 Jalen Parmele -2
    6 Donald Thomas 6
    6 Lex Hilliard -2
    7 Lionel Dotson -1
      POSSIBLE MIN -35
      ACTUAL SCORE -11

    Almost five years later, the 2008 Dolphins' draft was a disaster.  Only Jake Long, Kendall Langford and Donald Thomas have been productive players.

    Phillip Merling was the first pick of the second round and in four seasons as a Dolphin he produced 66 tackles and 3.5 sacks

    Chad Henne has a career quarterback rating of 74.9 and sabotaged, at least, two seasons for the Dolphins. 

    Shawn Murphy was inactive for his first 22 games and was then waived. 

    Jalen Parmele was placed on the practice squad in 2008 and was later signed by the Baltimore Ravens in the same year. 

    Through 2012, Lex Hilliard has had 48 carries with three different teams

    In three seasons with Miami, Lionel Dotson had five tackles and no sacks.

2009 NFL Draft

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    1 Vontae Davis 1
    2 Pat White -6
    2 Sean Smith 2
    3 Patrick Turner -5
    4 Brian Hartline 4
    5 John Nalbone -3
    5 Chris Clemons 5
    6 Andrew Gardner -2
    7 J.D. Folsom -1
      POSSIBLE MIN -38

    Everyone remembers this draft for the Pat White selection. He was a project of a quarterback who is no longer in the NFL after logging only five pass attempts.

    Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Brian Hartline and Chris Clemons are or have been starters for the Dolphins.

    Patrick Turner did not play in 2012 and caught only 10 passes in his career, all for the New York Jets.

    John Nalbone has not logged a reception for his career.

    Andrew Gardner, who should not be confused with the versatile Nate Garner, has been a career practice squad player with several NFL teams.

    J.D. Folsom is no longer in the NFL and made one career tackle.

    The 2009 draft produced no superstars and provided huge failures with second- and third-round picks.

2010 NFL Draft

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    1 Jared Odrick 1
    2 Koa Misi 2
    3 John Jerry 3
    4 A.J. Edds -4
    5 Nolan Carroll 5
    5 Reshad Jones 5
    7 Chris McCoy -1
    7 Austin Spitler 7
      POSSIBLE MIN -30

    Jeff Ireland had a decent draft in 2010.  He did not completely whiff on any early round picks and fifth-rounder Reshad Jones is a potential Pro Bowler.  Seventh-rounder Austin Spitler has been a consistent special teams contributor.

    If not for injury, A.J. Edds may have produced as well.

    Chris McCoy has not made an NFL tackle.

2011 NFL Draft

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    1 Mike Pouncey 1
    2 Daniel Thomas 2
    4 Clyde Gates -4
    6 Charles Clay 6
    7 Frank Kearse -1
    7 Jimmy Wilson 7
      POSSIBLE MIN -21

    Ireland did not have much ammunition in the 2011 NFL Draft but came away with a potential perennial Pro Bowler in Mike Pouncey and productive late-rounders in Charles Clay and Jimmy Wilson.

    Clyde Gates appears to be a waste of speed, catching only 18 passes in two seasons.  He is with the New York Jets.

    While Frank Kearse has started eight games for the Carolina Panthers, he did not produce anything for Miami.

2012 NFL Draft

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    1 Ryan Tannehill 1
    2 Jonathan Martin 2
    3 Olivier Vernon 3
    3 Michael Egnew -5
    4 Lamar Miller 4
    5 Josh Kaddu -3
    6 B.J. Cunningham -2
    7 Kheeston Randall 7
    7 Rishard Matthews 7
      POSSIBLE MIN -34

    It is too early to properly gauge this draft but, as of now, it appears to be a good one.  If Ryan Tannehill becomes the franchise quarterback that Miami desperately needs, then it instantly becomes a great draft.

    Lamar Miller may have an opportunity to be featured in 2013, if Reggie Bush does not return.

    Michael Egnew appears to be a bust, suiting up for only two games in 2012 and making no receptions. 

    Josh Kaddu suited up for four games but did not produce a tackle.

    B.J. Cunningham was cut and picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Kheeston Randall produced despite being a seventh-rounder and may play a bigger role in 2013, if Randy Starks is not re-signed.

    Rishard Matthews was a special teams contributor and made 11 receptions in 2012.

In Conclusion

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    Jeff Ireland's draft record is mixed.  His 2008 and 2009 drafts were putrid. But since then, his drafts have been average to good.  There is hope for 2013.

    Ireland has also found some gems in free agency, which bodes well for the Dolphins, who presently have $60 million in cap space.

    Miami's sole Pro Bowler, Cameron Wake, was an Ireland free agency find.  That statement, in itself, reflects poorly on Ireland as the Dolphins have only a single Pro Bowler.  The truth is some other players such as Mike Pouncey and Reshad Jones deserved spots on the Pro Bowl squad.

    What is your opinion about Ireland?