Along the second line, the name of every player with a second-round grade is placed under his appropriate position. That’s how a second-round safety can be on the same horizontal line with a second-round quarterback.
And on draft day, when the No. 12 pick comes up — assuming the Dolphins aren’t trading up or down — Ireland will be able to scan horizontally across the first round and spy the handful of players graded at the pick. Those players will be laid out horizontally at their various positions.
The Dolphins GM can then select a name out of that group.
It shouldn’t surprise that the player selected often plays a position of need, because logic and human nature will dictate that picking a quarterback ahead of a cornerback won’t help the team as much in 2012 even if the quarterback is rated higher.
That’s how drafting horizontally makes greater concessions to picking need positions.
And the Dolphins definitely have addressed needs in their drafts. Last year, the Dolphins needed a quarterback and, voila, picked one in the first round. They needed a right tackle and the club selected Jonathan Martin in the second round to play right tackle.
The Dolphins in 2011 needed a running back because Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were gone. They needed a center because Jake Grove was a free agency bust and Joe Berger was a solid backup the team no longer wanted as the starter.
Miami selected center Mike Pouncey in the first round and traded up to select running back Daniel Thomas in the second round.
Sometimes, the horizontal approach meshes with the best-available-player approach. In 2009, the Dolphins’ roster was lacking cornerbacks. The Dolphins not only filled the need with Vontae Davis in the first round, but he was graded in the teens by the team that picked him at No. 25. So, the club believed, Davis was a value pick at a position of need.
All this suggests the Dolphins will definitely fill needs this month. And as the player at need positions will be on the same horizontal line as perhaps a higher-graded player who doesn’t fill a need, the Dolphins can hypothetically and honestly contend they didn’t reach for anyone.
Even if they did — hypothetically.