I was reading an interesting article on Sportsline about how the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland is on a terrible run of repeated failure with 2nd round picks in the NFL draft. Dallas has also suffered a great deal with it's 2nd round picks.
Was Ireland our problem as well?
Its a question worth asking...
On Saturday, we broke down some of general manager Jeff Ireland's draft picks since he took over that job in 2008, and while the team's first-round picks during that time have been up and down, the second-round selections have been poor.
In fact since Miami hired Ireland as their GM they have selected the following players in the 2nd round:
2008 :: QB Chad Henne (not resigned)
2009 :: QB Pat White (cut)
2010 :: DE Philip Merling (cut)
2011 :: traded for WR Brandon Marshall (traded)
What does Ireland say to explain all this?
While Ireland said last week that he doesn't have many regrets about the way the team has drafted, the release of Merling says otherwise.
Ireland became a national scout for the Cowboys in 2001. We'll never know which picks were his responsibility before he was promoted to Vice President of College and Pro Scouting (aka GM junior) in 2005. From 2005 until he left Dallas after the 2007 season he served as the head of scouting and advised GM Jerry.Now let's take a look at Dallas 2nd round picks before Ireland, under Ireland, and after Ireland.
2nd round picks BEFORE Ireland:
2001 :: QB Quincy Carter (bust, drugs) and S Tony Dixon (bust, too slow!)
2002 :: G Andre Gurode (pro-bowl player)
2003 :: C Al Johnson (bust, knee problems)
2nd round picks UNDER Ireland:
2005 :: LB Kevin Burnett (always injured, left via FA)
2006 :: TE Anthony Fasano (bust, traded to Miami for almost nothing)
2007 :: no pick, traded up for LB Anthony Spencer (decent, but nothing special)
2nd round picks AFTER Ireland:
2008 :: TE Martellus Bennett (left via FA, loser--)
2009 :: traded down to take LB Jason Williams (nothing to show for it!)
2010 :: LB Sean Lee (starter++)
2011 :: LB Bruce Carter (too early to tell)
This problem continued from 2001 through 2009 as the team selected only one pro-bowl player (Gurode) in the 2nd round in nine years!
Our failures in the 2nd round started before Ireland, continued during his tenure, and even after his tenure. For the problem to go on through three different directors (Parcells, Ireland, and Ciskowski) tells us that it's more deep seated than just the GM/Scouting Director. This run has been caused by multiple problems, e.g. GM ignoring scouts (Parcells picked T Jacob Rogers after overruling scouts objections), Coaches having too much influence (Wade insisting on LB Jason Williams), and there have been whispers that non-scouts (i.e. coaches) have too much influence on the fabled Dallas big board. When an organization has this many problems collecting and acting on the scouting information for the draft there is only one person who can fix it. Folks that person is Jerry. Jerry usually defends his actions by saying that he doesn't personally dominate the draft room and that they use consensus to decide. In fairness he didn't personally cause any one of these problems, but he didn't demand accountability and fix them either.
Jerry's crowning moment of draft success was in overruling Parcells to side with the scouts in drafting Demarcus Ware first in 2005. To have more successes like that one he will need to make the scouts and scouting director personally responsible for making the board, hold them responsible for the results, and overrule his coaching staff when they fall in love with fit instead of talent in a player.
In the business I'm in you don't have to know more than your engineering staff, but you do have to be able to judge their results and hold them accountable for it. If I had one chance to give Jerry some advice (which I don't) I would tell him not to allow or accept excuses. If excuses work then excuses are all you will get (instead of results!).
Who knows, once he cleans house on a few scouts he may need to give Birddog a call and start building the new secondary in big-D.