The Miami Dolphins are currently conducting a thorough search to find their next GM after the much-maligned Jeff Ireland “mutually parted ways” with the team last week.
Five candidates have already interviewed for the vacancy, including Brian Gaine, Omar Khan, Lake Dawson and Jason Licht, and the Dolphins are rumored to be interested in Marc Ross, Tom Gamble and potentially others. However, one man is beginning to separate from the pack, according to several sources.
Cleveland Browns assistant GM Ray Farmer is said to be the odds-on favorite at the moment, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. Although Farmer is facing stiff competition from the aforementioned candidates, there’s good reason to believe he is indeed the most likely to be named Miami’s next GM.
Owner Stephen Ross is being advised by longtime friend and business associate Carl Peterson during this search. Peterson has been fond of Farmer for quite some time now, having hired him to be the Director of Pro Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. Farmer was a member of the Chiefs organization for seven years before the Browns swooped him up to become their assistant GM last March.
Peterson likely advocating for Farmer doesn’t make any of the other candidates long shots, and it wouldn’t be a major upset if someone else won the job. However, all signs appear to be pointing to Farmer at least being one of the finalists for the position.
Should this worry Dolphins fans or provide them with excitement? Many of Miami’s targets for the opening are of the young, unproven variety. It appears Ross and company are set on hiring a hungry, energetic GM who will be more adapt to the nuances of today’s NFL as opposed to a more seasoned choice. There may be a great deal of upside with each of the candidates, but all of them would be risks as well.
Farmer’s reputation in league circles is one of respect and admiration. The work he did in Kansas City was obviously impressive enough to warrant an offer from the Browns, and he ascended quickly as a scout with the Atlanta Falcons before that. But if there is one quality the Dolphins desperately need with their next GM, it’s competence in the NFL Draft.
Ireland left something to be desired in each of his three drafts, so Miami’s new GM will need a strong first draft in order to infuse some young talent onto the roster. There’s some concern that Farmer doesn’t have the experience to provide the Dolphins with that.
With the Chiefs, Farmer primarily oversaw potential free agent signings as he would evaluate rosters around the league for talent. It’s not believed that he played a significant role in any of Kansas City’s drafts or devoted much time to scouting college players.
Still, Farmer’s experience as a scout with the Falcons suggests he is capable of diagnosing collegiate talent and making sound decisions on draft weekend. His track record just indicates that he’s more qualified to sign free agents than pick rookies. While that isn’t a reason to be alarmed, it is a reason to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to his draft prowess if he becomes Miami’s pick.
If Farmer’s reputation around the league is indicative of his potential as an NFL GM, he’d be a great choice to replace Ireland in Miami. However, his perceived lack of experience in the draft is one concern that suggests he’s far from a safe bet.
There’s no way of knowing if Farmer is the Dolphins’ priority like some are reporting, but we should find out soon. The Senior Bowl, which is annually a premiere scouting opportunity for NFL teams, is set to begin with practices next week and will culminate with the actual All-Star game on January 25. Ideally, the Dolphins will name their new GM before these festivities begin.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.