DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - Jake Long seemed at ease in his new role as
the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, leaning into a news conference
microphone to talk about his mean streak while his mother sat in
the corner, nodding as she smiled.
The Miami Dolphins were grinning Tuesday, too. They signed the
Michigan left tackle to a five-year contract with $30 million
guaranteed, and they'll select him with the top pick in the draft
The deal allows the Dolphins and Long to avoid a possible
"It's really important for us to know Jake is going to be on
the field for us on time when training camp begins in July," coach
Tony Sparano said. "That was critical."
Long's total contract package is for $57.75 million, said a
person familiar with the negotiations who didn't want to be
identified because the Dolphins declined to reveal terms. Last
year's top pick, JaMarcus Russell, signed for $61 million with the
Oakland Raiders but missed all of training camp before reaching a
Long becomes the highest-paid lineman in the NFL and a 315-pound
cornerstone in a rebuilding project for the new Dolphins regime led
by Bill Parcells. Last season Miami went 1-15, and the offensive
line has been a chronic problem in recent years.
"Jake was our guy from the beginning," general manager Jeff
Ireland said. "Jake Long was on the top of our board for a long
time. There wasn't a whole lot of debate. We thought it was a very
good fit with the Miami Dolphins."
With many other needs as well, the Dolphins were interested in
trading the top pick for multiple lower choices. When no suitors
surfaced, they began negotiations last week with Long's agent, Tom
"It's such a great honor to be the No. 1 pick," Long said. "I
don't think it has sunk in yet. It's something every kid dreams
about. I'm just real excited that it happened. Now I'm coming to a
The Dolphins said they didn't begin contract talks with
potential picks other than Long.
"It was a very straightforward negotiation," Condon said.
"They didn't leverage us with other players, and we didn't tell
them we wanted to be on some different team or any of those kinds
Reaching a contract agreement before the draft isn't
unprecedented. The Houston Texans signed defensive end Mario
Williams as their No. 1 pick on the eve of the 2006 draft.
Condon, who represents several top prospects, said there's
enough time for the Rams to reach a deal with a player before they
make the second pick Saturday.
"My understanding is St. Louis is on the clock," Condon said
with a smile.
The only other offensive lineman taken with the No. 1 choice
since 1970 was Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace, who made the Pro
Bowl seven consecutive times after joining the Rams in 1997. The
Dolphins would be thrilled with a comparable achievement by the
"Jake has all the qualities we're looking for in our linemen,"
said Sparano, who coached the offensive line with the Dallas
Cowboys. "He's very tough, smart and disciplined. Those are the
people we want to surround ourselves with here."
Long said he's glad he'll be reporting to training camp on time,
because he'll need to adjust to the faster speed of the NFL game.
Temperament won't be an issue, he said.
"I'm mean on the field," he said. "I'm a very nice guy off
the field. When I buckle up that helmet, I change. It's football
mode. I go out there and try to bury the guy and make sure they
don't touch the quarterback or running back."
Long started 40 games at Michigan and was Big Ten offensive
lineman of the year in 2006 and 2007. He finished second to LSU
defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey in balloting last season for the
Lombardi and Outland trophies.
The Dolphins decided to use the top pick on offense rather than
take Dorsey, Virginia defensive end Chris Long or Ohio State
linebacker Vernon Gholston. It turns out Ireland's comment last
week about drafting "a pillar of your defense" was a slip of the
tongue - or a smoke screen.
"That's for me to know, and you to guess about," Ireland said
with a smile.
The drama may be missing, but Long still plans to fly to New
York on Wednesday and attend the draft. The Dolphins have eight
other picks and four of the first 64, and they remain in the market
for more offensive linemen, a quarterback, a receiver, a tight end,
cornerbacks, defensive linemen and linebackers.
At left tackle, they're set.
AP Football Writer Dave Goldberg in New York contributed to this
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)