Koa Misi, Reshad Jones, John Jerry, Jonathan Martin and Jared Odrick are other current starters drafted by Ireland, along with prominent reserves including Daniel Thomas, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Nolan Carroll and Lamar Miller. Ireland had a voice in drafting Sean Smith and Brian Hartline, too.
This isnt to nominate the guy for NFL executive of the year, just to offer fair balance to the almost cartoonish vitriol heaped on him by so many. I have criticized Ireland plenty when warranted. For example, it is on him that Miami lacks a premier, No. 1-caliber wide receiver to ease Tannehills progress.
But, moving forward, there are two primary litmus tests to judge Ireland.
One is the unfolding track record of his two biggest hires, Tannehill and Philbin.
The other is what Ireland does after this season with all of those stacks of chips on his table. Because of trades Miami now has the most 2013 draft choices of any team, including five of the first 100 picks. And because of the salary-cap situation Miami figures to have around $60 million to spend in free agency.
That puts Ireland in a position to either really make his mark in a positive way, or to reenergize his critics.
The Dolphins actually have a pretty solid foundation today in that they run the ball and defend the run very well. I put the teams biggest offseason needs as 1) an impact wide receiver, 2) a cover cornerback, and 3) a pass rusher.
The 2013 draft should offer at least two or three first-round receivers led by Tennessees very speedy 6-4 Justin Hunter, who has drawn comparisons to A.J. Green. Free agency also will be ripe with wideouts. They will include Pittsburghs Mike Wallace and Green Bays Greg Jennings.
Ireland will have the draft chips and spending money to put moving up in the draft or an impact free agent or two among his options.
Finally, a quick retrospective on that infamous question of Dez Bryant, the one he will never live down.
It turns out Ireland was right not in how he said it, certainly, but in the instinct to wonder about Bryants background and character. Those things are why the Cowboys today assign a security detail to Bryant, drive him to practices, have him on a curfew and ban him from strip clubs. The very concerns that led Ireland to awkwardly ask that question have Dallas still wondering if Bryant is worth the trouble.
Meanwhile, Dolphins fans unrelentingly critical of Ireland could find themselves in an increasing quandary: The better and better Tannehill gets and the more Miami wins, the more fans will be denied the delight of Ireland-bashing, their favorite hobby.