Dolphins prep for draft without Parcells’ ‘aura’

When it comes to running the Miami Dolphins’ draft, general

manager Jeff Ireland concedes he can’t match Bill Parcells’

experience or gift for gab.

Next week’s draft will be the first for Miami since Parcells

stepped down last September after 2 1/2 years as head of football

operations. That means more authority for Ireland, a Parcells

protege who is going into his fourth draft with the Dolphins.

”Bill had an aura and he always made it fun, but everybody knew

when it was time to get down to business,” Ireland said Thursday.

”That really hasn’t changed. I’m not naive in the fact that I

don’t have that aura, but really the mechanics have not

changed.

”As a matter of fact,” Ireland added with a smile, ”we’re

probably more focused on just work most of the time, because there

was usually some storytelling involved in the draft room.”

In Parcells’ absence, Ireland will rely more heavily on Brian

Gaine, whose promotion to director of player personnel was

announced Thursday. Gaine had worked primarily on the evaluation of

pro players and now assesses college talent too.

”He’s going to be my right-hand man since Bill has left,”

Ireland said.

Ireland, Gaine and the rest of the Parcells regime have a

respectable track record in the draft. The 2010 class produced five

players who saw significant duty, although top pick Jared Odrick

missed almost the entire season because of injuries. The 2009 group

included second-round bust Pat White but also four players who

became starters. Top 2008 pick Jake Long blossomed into an All-Pro

tackle, but the jury’s still out on second-round pick Chad Henne as

a long-term solution at quarterback.

The Dolphins have the 15th pick in the first round next

Thursday. With many needs, no second-round choice and only two of

the first 110 picks, they would love to trade down in the first

round for multiple picks.

And Ireland didn’t rule out trading up.

”I’m game for anything,” he said. ”I think there will be

quite a bit of movement.”

After finishing next to last in the AFC in scoring in 2010, the

biggest needs are on offense. That includes a running back,

quarterback, tight end and guard.

While the NFL labor dispute has delayed addressing roster

deficiencies in free agency, Ireland said he won’t reach in the

draft to fill a position.

”Free agency will open up again,” Ireland said. ”Brian Gaine

has reminded me of that about a thousand times.”

One benefit of the lockout has been allowing teams to focus

solely on the draft. Ireland said the entire scouting department

and coaching staff has been involved in preparations, and the work

has been so thorough he’s giving his staff an Easter break.

”It has been all hands on deck,” he said. ”You are prepared

for it, for sure.”