NFL Draft: When the Smoke Clears, Is Dez Bryant the Miami Dolphins' Target?

Michael PintoSenior Writer IApril 11, 2010

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 5:  Runningback Brandon Boykin #2 of the Georgia Bulldogs dives for the ball for the ball as Dez Bryant #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys cannot make the pass during the third quarter of the game at Boone Pickens Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

NFL general managers play their cards close to the chest this time of year. Almost everything you hear them say is either meant to throw off other teams or a half truth that will raise more questions than answers. 

Its a game played year in and year out. 

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland may be new to the craft, but he's no fool either.

In 2008, when he was preparing for his first draft as a general manager, Ireland spoke about the team's plans and took questions about potential players to select with the first overall selection. 

In what many people believed to be a major slip-up, Ireland spoke of expecting the pick to be a pillar of the Dolphins' defense. After a chuckle from reporters, Ireland corrected himself and re-phrased the comment as wanting a pillar of the defense or offense, whichever that may be. 

He took a lot of criticism from the media as everyone assumed he had just shown his hand. Chris Long had been linked to the Dolphins for weeks and with Ireland's slip, it appeared he was headed to Miami. 

A few days later the Dolphins announced that they had come to terms on a contract with left tackle Jake Long and later selected him with the first overall pick. Ireland later said Jake Long was "our guy" all along. 

It appeared Ireland wasn't so foolish after all. You can bet he made that "mistake" on purpose as well. There was a sly smile on his face when he corrected his comment, one that said a whole lot more than his words. 

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Ireland loves the smoke screen game, and is one GM whose pre-draft comments should almost be ignored; he won't say anything revealing and what he does say is carefully crafted. The last two years have proven that Miami's draft plans lie in a well-kept vault. 

Which brings us to Dez Bryant. 

Miami has a glaring need at receiver.

Everyone knows this, but Bill Parcells doesn't take receivers in the first round...right? Most of us think we know that as well, but what we didn't know was that Percy Harvin was Miami's guy if available in the 2009 draft.

Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel revealed this little tidbit of information in a recent column .  

Of course, Harvin was selected by the Minnesota Vikings before the Dolphins could get their hands on him, and so the history of Parcells dislike of first-round receivers continued. 

But this may be the year that changes.

Although the Dolphins brought Dez Bryant in for a visit earlier this month, a lot of the talk about the trip was over character concerns. Bryant is considered a diva receiver by some, and that has hurt his draft stock a decent amount. 

Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano often speak of wanting good character guys, but at the same time stress the importance of talent. What they really mean though is that good character is a bonus, but talent comes first. 

Cornerback Vonte Davis was another "diva" in last year's draft, but that didn't stop Miami from selecting him in round one. He was close to a model citizen in his first year and whatever concerns there may have been over his character were heavily outweighed by his production on the field. 

That's because talent trumps all, and Dez Bryant is an exceptionally talented receiver. 

Ireland hasn't said much about Bryant, nor has he addressed the hole at receiver. So while many feel that defensive tackle Dan Williams or outside linebacker Derrick Morgan will be the pick at No. 12, maybe that's just the smoke clouding judgement. 

Bryant is rated higher than either player. He would instantly transform the Dolphins' offense into a potent force and give Chad Henne the legitimate target he so desperately needs.

Put character aside—the Dolphins' front office has proven in the past it isn't a major concern. 

The same need in the passing game that pointed Miami toward Harvin last April is only more obvious this time around. Face it, Bryant makes a whole lot of sense.

That possibility hasn't really been addressed though because one look at Parcells draft history tells us not to. But he would've taken Harvin, and he might just add Bryant to the list.

There are a lot of teams that covet the former Oklahoma State receiver. He's been linked to Jacksonville, Denver, and several other teams picking after Miami, but there hasn't been a peep about interest from the Phins. 

They've stayed silent, let the rumor mill churn and kept out of the discussion. 

If he's their man at No.12, they'd be foolish to do otherwise.