Miami Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier met with the media on Wednesday in a pre-Draft press conference. The two discussed the state of the Dolphins and how they think the team will look when the Draft ends.
Tannenbaum opened the media availability by pointing out that the Draft is just the next step in preparing for the 2017 season, with the first steps happening earlier in the offseason. “For us, this is just the next step in the offseason in terms of trying to improve the team,” Tannenbaum stated. “We look at it as a continuum. Some of the things we did earlier in the offseason were designed to give us the most flexibility heading into next week’s draft. That was all part of our overall plan. We’ll get through the draft and we’ll try to remain opportunistic in terms of opportunities we see to improve the team – be it in June or July – heading into training camp. We just see the draft as the next opportunity for us to get better.”
He also pointed out how many picks the Dolphins have, with a key intro to the comment. “As of now, we’re sitting on seven draft choices – a first, second, third, three fives and a seventh (round pick),” Tannenbaum explained. “That is a combination of our own picks as well as the three compensatory picks that we received.”
“As of now” keys into the Dolphins’ approach to the Draft. Draft picks are resources. They can be traded to move up to grab a key player that you want, or they can be used to add more draft picks by moving back a few spots. “We’ll always make what decision we feel is best,” Tannenbaum answered when asked about the team possibly trading up or back from the 22nd overall pick, and how that process works. “Typically you get calls both ways – maybe three in front of you and three behind you. We have our trade charts and (Director of Analytics) Dennis Lock, who runs our analytics department, gives us great information and then we’ll see what happens. Again, just to go back to the process, last year was a great example where as Chris alluded to, (National Scout) Matt Winston spent a lot of time with Laremy Tunsil. Chris insisted that, when we were sitting in Indy, that we were going to interview Laremy Tunsil. At the time, Tennessee had the first pick. There were a lot of rumors that he was (going to be) the first pick in the draft. We had Branden Albert at left tackle and eight gazillion other needs. That process gave us a lot of confidence that here he is at 13 and it was an easy decision for us. So when a trade becomes available, we’ll measure that opportunity against the board. What our needs are, of course that’s going to be a little bit of a balance. But we’ll see what happens. Sometimes you get a trade offer that’s hard to say no to.”
The two men also discussed the actual draft day decision making for the team, with the triumvirate of Tannenbaum, Grier, and head coach Adam Gase. Tannenbaum told the reporters, “I think we’ve gone over that before but Chris runs the draft. We set the board and we rely on the board to make those decisions. Adam is right there. But a lot of those discussions are had well before – as Chris mentioned – when we have the debate and disagreements. Once the board is set, that’s really what we rely on to make our decisions. Last year is probably the best example of that. Again, we didn’t think we were going to be drafting a left tackle, but when there is a guy that’s so much higher rated than anything else, those are easy decisions. Our owner, Steve Ross, is there. We’re all sitting there and you say to yourself ‘This is the best player for the long term for us. Let’s turn in the card.’”
Grier then added, “The best part of that is, we could sit there and we’ll have where one of us will…an F-bomb will be dropped. But it is healthy debate. We’re always going to do what’s best for the organization. Truly, it’s egoless. I think most of you know the three of us, but we have a lot of debates and we are not afraid to tell each other no and that’s wrong and disagree. I think that’s what makes it work.”
“Right,” Grier replied when asked to clarify that he is talking about the debatt and disagreements happening before the Draft and not actually in the war room. “All of last week and stuff, we had a lot of big debates, the coaching staff and personnel departments. It is fun. I enjoy it.”
Grier also addressed if there are times where the team will leave the draft board to grab a player, even if there is someone higher rated available, explaining, “I think the one thing, and just listening to being around from (former New York Jets General Manager) Dick Steinberg to (former Miami Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Bill Parcells to everyone that I’ve worked with that’s had a good track record … Talking to (former Green Bay Packers General Manager) Ron Wolf about all of this stuff. You get in trouble when you start drafting for need and reaching around your board. So we try to stick with that. You try and stay as disciplined as you can to your board. There are always times late in the draft where maybe you say, ‘Hey, this and that.’ But for the most part, with us, we’ll always stick to the board. We’ve done too much work over the last eight months of this to just throw that out and just go with something. So for us, it will always be the board over need.”
The Draft will begin next Thursday night with round one, then run through Saturday. This year’s draft will be held in Philadelphia.