BY NICK ST. DENIS
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has nine picks to work with in the draft -- including five in the first 82 and the 12th overall selection. (photo: photo-gator, Flickr)
"... we’re looking forward to hitting on those,” Ireland said this week, via MiamiDolphins.com. “We’ll have another young team next year and that was all by design.”
With running back Reggie Bush and left tackle Jake Long possibly gone, the Dolphins will get even younger at those two key positions. That can be tied to last year's draft, too.
Miami has high hopes for tailback Lamar Miller, who showed flashes in his rookie season. The Dolphins also had rookie tackle Jonathan Martin start all 16 games, including a handful at left tackle in place of the injured Long.
“I think Lamar really showed some great signs of really some explosive play opportunity,” Ireland said. “He kind of shoots out of a cannon when he hits the hole. He’s got very good hands and I thought he did a very good job in his pass protection, which keeps him on the field for all three downs...
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of (defensive end) Olivier Vernon or Jonathan Martin from that standpoint, as both of them are young and came out at juniors. They’re young in their development from a bulk standpoint and a strength standpoint and just from an experience standpoint.
Oh, and the Dolphins are also confident in the growth of their young signal-caller Ryan Tannehill.
"I think all of those guys are going to get much, much better.”
While Ireland looks to make the most of his plentiful draft crop, the Dolphins are still poised to make a couple moves via free agency with a projected cap surplus exceeding $40 million.