Dion Jordan of the Oregon Ducks stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a jersey on stage after he was picked #3 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Photographer: Getty Images
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I don't know if Jeff Ireland is doing what's in the best interest of the Dolphins, but he certainly is doing what's in the best interest of Jeff Ireland.
He, and therefore the Dolphins, are the poker equivalent of "all in."
The Dolphins have had one winning season since 2005. After four straight losing seasons, two of which Ireland had presided over, it was widely reported the embattled Dolphins general manager needed a winning season in 2013 or else. In fact, a playoff season may be a must in order for him to see 2014. So he's holding nothing back to make it happen.
Armed with over $40 million in salary cap room, he signed a handful of impact free agents, including 25-year-old deep threat wide receiver Mike Wallace. Equipped with the 12th overall pick and two second-round picks, Ireland kept wheeling and dealing.
He used his first- and early second-round pick to trade up nine spots in the first round to take pass rusher Dion Jordan out of Oregon, and he is rumored to be trading the other second-round pick for proven, albeit expensive, left tackle Branden Albert.
How controversial a trade was moving up to take Jordan? ESPN's Jon Gruden, who throws so much praise on players he's mocked for it, knocked it. Jordan only played three out of every seven snaps per game last year for Oregon. Athletically, he's special.
If he is what the Dolphins think he'll be, Miami will intimidate opponents with Cameron Wake and Jordan leading the pass rush.
If he looks better than he plays, then Ireland and the Dolphins have blown the most important draft since Don Shula retired.
No big deal or anything, just boom or bust.
The Dolphins played it safe five years ago by drafting a nice, solid left tackle (Jake Long) first overall, and passing on a potential franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan. How'd that work out?
Not once but twice, the Dolphins passed on Drew Brees. Once because they played it safe by taking a third cornerback. The other time because they didn't know if his surgically repaired shoulder would hold up even though famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews said it was fine.
How'd that work out?
Jimmy Johnson passed on Randy Moss in the 1998 Draft, trading down for running back John Avery. Ask Dan Marino how that worked out?
The one time the Dolphins went for it, trading two first-round picks for Ricky Williams, he did his part. Ricky rushed for 3,225 yards and 25 touchdowns the next two seasons. The problem was Jay Fiedler their quarterback.
Jeff Ireland had a decent defense last year, but decided it was not good enough to win with. They didn't force enough big plays. So he has decided after over a decade of being unable to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots, the least they can do now is knock him on his butt.
Ireland has been rolling the dice for a while now. Last season, He did what no other Miami GM had done in nearly 30 years when he took quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round. He admitted a past mistake by trading former No. 1 pick Vontae Davis to Indianapolis.
If the reported trade with Kansas City for Albert plays out, Ireland already will have gambled and lost once this offseason. He had to spend more money and a draft pick to replace Long with a guy who also has had back problems.
And now this. If Tannehill is his legacy, Dion Jordan will determine his fate. He does not have to be the next J.J. Watt or Aldon Smith, but he at least has to play like Bruce Irvin did last year for Seattle (8 sacks).
It's a huge gamble. Ireland trying to mine greatness where most everyone else said there is none to be found.
Usually these type of moves backfire.
Almost every big move has done just that for Miami in the 21st Century.
A name that screams greatness.
But a game that has equal parts boom and bust.
Can Jeff Ireland be right, just this once?
He better be.
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