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Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland: "We violated principle" to draft QB Ryan Tannehill

The Miami Dolphins are set to have a big offseason, with $50 million in cap space and five draft picks in the first three days of the NFL Draft. Yesterday, general manager Jeff Ireland sat down with Jesse Agler and John Congemi to talk about the offseason.

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Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland visited with Jesse Agler and John Congemi on the team's radio show, The Finsiders, yesterday. While the three talked about several things, hitting on the fact that the Dolphins started selling their 2013 season tickets packages yesterday, as well as some free agent talk. But, a large portion of the show was taken up with talk about last year's draft for the Dolphins.

Congemi asked Ireland about how he feels about the progression of their "big time player" at quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. "Well, I think he's done a great job this year. Obviously, he's got 35 starts under his belt to this day, and that's huge because, the axiom you go by in scouting is you like to see a quarterback have 30 starts under his belt before he's ready to play. We kind of violated that, our principle or axiom, by drafting a player that didn't have those starts.

"But now he does and I think we are better for it. This team is better for it. Ryan is better for it. So now we're going to hopefully see a big jump in his development. We're not satisfied where he is right now. He has a long way to go. He knows that. We know that. But, we think, if we can surround him with some things, not only from a protection stand point, but some play makers down the field, he's only going to get better and better and better."

Agler then asked why the team decided to break their philosophy and draft Tannehill, despite the less than 30 starts (Tannehill had 19 career starts at quarterback with Texas A&M). "Really, it was just about Ryan and how he presented himself," Ireland explained. "He was really, really smart, poised beyond his years, mature beyond his years. Sometimes, it's not the starts, it's the composure, the poise, how smart he is, how quickly he's going to pick things up. The fact that he had been in the quarterback room, for all those years, even though he was playing receiver, he was going through all those meetings. And then, obviously, we hire a guy in Mike Sherman that was with you had a lot of things going in the right direction for Ryan.

"I was on him very early. I loved his athletic skill set. And that's just kind of the way college is going. They are going more athletic quarterback. I loved his stature, he's 6'3-1/2", 220 pounds; he runs 4.5-4.55. He can throw the ball with accuracy, with timing. When you add the makeup to it, it was a natural fit for me."

Agler also asked Ireland about the big plays from Sunday night's Super Bowl, and if Ireland was satisfied with the number of big plays the Dolphins had this season. "Certainly not satisfied from a big play standpoint," Ireland immediately replied. "Big plays turn into wins, from both sides of the ball. I've always said that when you have 20-yard gains, from a rushing standpoint, from a passing stand point, when you take the ball away from the passer, disrupt his timing on defense, when you take the ball away from the receiver, the running back, the tight end when the ball is thrown in the air, or strip the ball from a carrier, when you disrupt the timing of the quarterback or disrupt the timing of the route, it's very important for making big plays on offense or defense."

You can watch Ireland's entire 14 minute interview here.