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NFL Miami Dolphins

Jeff Ireland has Miami Dolphins Off to Strong 2013 Start, but Draft is Where He Will Be Judged

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY SPORTS

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has his share of detractors, but he has garnered some goodwill with his great start to the 2013 NFL season. The Dolphins have added Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller to their offense, and it looks more and more like Jake Long could re-up with the team.

Add in the fact that the linebacker group has become younger, faster, more aggressive, and we see the 2013 Dolphins arrow is pointed upwards.

However …

I would say that Ireland has been impressive in free agency, yes, but he is just cutting the biggest cheques to land players so far, and all of that is from the bank account of Stephen Ross. Where I will judge and grade Ireland is the NFL draft, and I think most Dolfans are thinking the same way.

It is not necessarily the free agents and trades that have drawn the ire of Phins fans, it is mostly Ireland’s draft history. Most recently, guys like Michael Egnew, Charles Clay, Edmond Gates, and Josh Kaddu have disappointed, while guys like Olivier Vernon, Daniel Thomas, and Jonathan Martin have had mixed results.

The 2013 draft will see Miami get five picks in the first 82 (assuming no draft pick trades are made). I remember marveling at how a guy like Jimmy Johnson ran drafts, and Ireland will have four picks between 42 and 82 plus the No. 12 overall, so the first three rounds should be dominated by the Dolphins.

Is it an impressive start to the 2013 season? Surely yes. Is there work to do still, especially when it comes to the need for a great draft? Absolutely yes. April 25, 2013 is a date that Dolfans have marked on their calenders. If that day produces swings-and-misses, then it will be the last draft for Jeff Ireland.

Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow  him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles HERE