Technology embraced by Miami Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey

04/16/2014 12:00 AM

04/16/2014 3:50 PM

Dennis Hickey thinks fast and talks even faster.

Not surprisingly, the first-year general manager wants to act fast, as well — even if that means discarding decades of NFL tradition.

Appearing on WQAM-560 Tuesday morning, Hickey revealed that his new draft room has eschewed the long-used handwritten magnets for their draft board, and instead have gone digital.

“When I first started in this business [as a scout], I would handwrite my reports, would mail them in to the secretary, who would type them up with an old-school typewriter and put them into a binder,” Hickey said.

“There’s so much inefficiency. As technology progressed, we always wanted to stay ahead of the curve.”

Part of that innovation: Embracing analytics.

He has put together a numbers-based evaluation department, reaching out to consultants to help take a fresh look at players.

“It’s about being more efficient and gaining an edge in any way we can,” Hickey said.

“But it’s only one piece. Technology is a tool. It still comes down to blocking and tackling.”

With this year’s offseason, the emphasis is definitely on the latter for the Dolphins, who allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks a year ago.

They’ve already signed three free agents (Branden Albert, Shelley Smith and Jason Fox) and are expected to draft at least one more lineman — a right tackle, possibly as high as the 19th overall pick.

Still, Hickey wouldn’t commit to using his first-round pick on the team’s most glaring need.

“The important part to us is evaluating the player and assigning the value of the player,” Hickey said. “Then you work towards the best player available.”

He again reiterated the importance of building a broad, 53-man roster, and not necessarily chasing any one player.

Hickey also said that while he’d like to have his draft picks have an immediate impact — which last year’s class notably did not — the important thing “is to lay out a plan for success” for the players, so they develop into long-term contributors.

Dion Jordan, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, would seem to fit that description. A shoulder injury limited his growth in his rookie season, and Jordan ended up with just two sacks on the year, playing the fewest snaps of any Dolphins defensive lineman to both start and finish the season on the roster.

Jordan has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, with the Delaware County Times reporting the Eagles have made overtures.

Hickey was asked indirectly about those rumors, and didn’t either confirm them or shoot them down Tuesday.

“He’s a very talented player,” Hickey said. “This is a big offseason for him. We’re excited about Dion going forward and having a great offseason.”

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