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Dolphins Draft 2014: Dennis Hickey post-Draft press conference

Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey addressed the media last night following the end of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

(Opening Statement) – “Thanks again. We felt like this was another productive day. Again for a personnel man and a guy that scouts and enjoys that part of it, this was a culmination of so much work. It’s been really exciting over these last few days to bring in quality players that we feel like are going to contribute to help the Miami Dolphins being a winning football team to win championships. So that’s what this is all about. Every decision we made was keeping that in light, and it was another productive day for us.

Starting off in the fourth round, we added Walt Aikens out of Liberty. He was a player that we watched closely. Again, with a lot of these guys, several of these guys were from small schools. Our scouts do a great job of digging under every rock and going through every school and trying to find good players wherever we can find them. Walt Aikens was one of those players. I first saw him at the Senior Bowl as we watched him and did a lot more work on him. We really liked the skillset that he brings, a tall, physical corner that has ball skills and is really productive. We really envision him as a special teams contributor. We really liked what he brought in that aspect. (He) was one of those players who we brought in for a visit. Again, with a lot of small-school players, we want to put them in our building, get them with our coaches (and) get them in our environment to get a good feel for them and how they will fit in our locker room. He did a great job when he came in there.

In the next round we took Arthur Lynch out of Georgia, a tight end, again a quality player. He was an all-SEC performer at tight end, good sized, tough, smart, competitive. He brings a lot of things to the table we feel can help us in a lot of different ways. Again he was at the Senior Bowl as well. We got to meet him and interview him there. (He is) just a real quality person. We are expecting a lot of good things from him. The fifth round we took a gentleman out of Montana, Jordan Tripp. He goes by Jordie. Again he was another guy who was at the Senior Bowl getting exposure for him. You are talking about a two-time All-American, two-time team captain, an athletic linebacker that is capable of making a lot of plays, contributing on special teams and bringing in a lot of qualities to our football team.

In the next round, Matt Hazel, a guy who caught my eye at the East-West all start practices. (He’s) from Coastal Carolina. We dug in more, (and) we really liked the skillset. We felt like (he) was a receiver with excellent hands, good quickness, good speed and he performed well when the level of competition was raised. We are excited to add him to the mix.

Finally in the seventh round, Terrence Fede, a gentleman out of Marist. A player that, again our scouts spend a lot of time on the road going to a lot of (small schools). It’s not all of the big places. But we are always looking for players and searching for players. One of the exciting things about scouting is discovery, going to a place where maybe a player has never been drafted before and finding a player you feel like can contribute and help your team. Terrence was one of those players, another gentleman we brought in on a visit. He had an excellent workout. We liked his skillset. We like his potential and a lot of the talent he brings.

So wrapping up, a lot of it tonight is working on undrafted college free agents. A lot of those things are still in process. Again it’s about 40 people working in concert, making a lot of calls and trying to keep your cell phone charged because going from one phone call to the other. The work by our scouts and our personnel department, I just can’t thank them enough. They worked so hard, put so much energy into making this weekend successful. Also the coaches and all the work that they put in to make this successful, as well as our operations. So many people, it’s a whole building working together in concert to make this weekend successful.”

(On how much stock he puts into what scouts say versus what coaches say in later round picks) – “That’s a good questions. We go through those in our meetings starting off in December. Obviously I wasn’t here, but that’s what we did, then in February picking up. We talk about that. We get our coaches involved in just what we see, if there are discrepancies working through those. But obviously with these players, we saw a lot of things that we felt could help the Miami Dolphins and worked in concert in that way.”

(On if he could describe evaluating and projecting prospects from smaller colleges and if it is more difficult) – “The important thing, and part of what scouting that it all comes back to, is evaluating the traits that a player has because those things you can translate those. Again level of competition varies depending on the week from week-to-week, from game-to-game, from opponent-to-opponent. You focus on the traits and do those traits translate to success at the next level. The players we saw, we saw enough in their skillset that we feel like they will be able to translate to the next level.”

(On if he entered the draft focusing on smaller schools thinking he could find value there) – “No we were judging the individual players. It just kind of happened that way. Again it’s important for us, whether it is small school, big school, whatever, is to evaluate the player, scrutinize him, evaluate him fully from a medical standpoint, from a player evaluation standpoint, from a character standpoint and make a decision based on that player.”

(On if he’s observed how small school players have performed in the NFL) – “It really boils down to the players. The really good players are successful. The ones that aren’t successful, it was going to be a matter of talent. Again, it boils down to that. That’s what we evaluate. We don’t evaluate the school, we evaluate the player.”

(On if it is easier to evaluate a player that has faced a higher level of competition, thus making a player at a smaller school more difficult to evaluate) – “In some ways, when they do rise to the level of competition. Several of the guys played at the Senior Bowl or they played at the East-West (Shrine Game) where the competition is risen. How did they respond to that? That’s how we judge them and put a lot of stock into them.”

(On why the Dolphins took receivers over linebackers) – “The thinking was getting the best player, and that’s how we attacked it. That’s how we evaluated the players, and that’s how we took them.”

(On if it was a coincidence that the Dolphins drafted five team captains) – “It’s part of the evaluation and process. It’s one of the things we always ask.  We want to bring leaders onto the team. I was that way when we were in Tampa, and we put a lot of stock in that. Just because a guy wasn’t a captain in college doesn’t mean he can’t be a leader in the NFL. But it is something that we look at and it’s part of the evaluation of the player.”

(On how he would characterize the draft class) – “Exciting. There’s a lot of talent. There’s a lot of things that these players are going to add. Again, it’s all about bringing the competitive environment and continuing to add that to what we feel is a strong nucleus of players.”

(On Don Jones’ recent tweets) – “I was made aware. I was disappointed in those comments. That is not what we stand for as an organization. The draft weekend is the culmination for so many players, their lifetime achievement of their dream to achieve the goal, for Michael Sam and for all the other players. It’s a celebration, as they begin their future as their playing goal. I think it’s a great thing for the league. I was disappointed by those comments, and we’re going to sit down with Don Jones and address them and handle that appropriately.”

(On if Michael Sam was a consideration in the seventh round in comparison to Terrence Fede) – “Obviously, we had Fede rated higher.”

(On what he sees in Walt Aikens) – “Obviously, that was something we definitely wanted to talk more with him as we interviewed him at the All-Star Game. Again, it’s important for us to bring high-character people into our organization. Guys make mistakes when they’re 18, 19 years old, but we wanted to get more detail and we felt comfortable after getting him into our building and talking further with him.”