For the Miami Dolphins in 2012, Ryan Tannehill as a rookie threw 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. The offense on a whole struggled to put points on the board. The general assumption was that Tannehill would need weapons in the form of skill position players. However, the Dolphins’ offensive line faced the issues of not having players that fit the scheme and key injuries. I bet if you ask Tannehill and first time head coach Joe Philbin, the offensive line needs addressing as well.
One thing that was accomplished by the Dolphins during the free agency signing period to this point, has been strengthening the offense. However, the offensive line is far from complete and is still a question mark. The Dolphins were already set at center, and will be for the foreseeable future (barring injury) with Mike Pouncey. Richie Incognito, though not the perfect fit in the zone blocking scheme, is coming off a Pro Bowl season. He has experience at right guard, but played last season at left guard and should be fine there for at least another year. The addition of Lance Louis is a noticeable upgrade over John Jerry, but he is coming off an ACL. Right Tackle Eric Winston is still an option in my mind and will remain so until he signs somewhere. Josh Samuda was an undrafted rookie out of Massachusetts last season and has gotten rave reviews from the coaches. He was listed on the Dolphins depth chart in 2012 as the backup center, but he has played the guard position in college. We will have to wait and see Samuda in camp before we can take his roster spot seriously.
Perhaps the biggest question about the offensive line will be at left tackle. When Jake Long was injured, rookie Jonathan Martin moved from right tackle to play the left side. His performance metrics were below average to poor on both tackle positions in 2012, but the left tackle side is his natural position. Martin was a 2nd round selection out of Stanford for the Dolphins and is an investment that needs to develop. To my eye and many others who watched his 2012 season, his problem was strength. Martin has the quick feet and lateral athleticism to play the position, but he seemed severely lacking in strength. In fact many say that was his one issue. Reports say that Martin has spent the offseason working on improving his strength and is taking it very seriously, despite his reputation for not being a big fan of spending time in the weight room. However, the wise thing to do here may be to get him some camp and preseason competition. A veteran would have been preferable, but as time goes by, it’s looking like that competition may have to come from a rookie. A solid veteran may become available before the season starts, but this 2013 draft class is well stocked with offensive line talent.
Chance Warmack of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina are the elite guards of the group. Warmack might be gone by the Dolphins 12th pick. Cooper might be a reach at 12 as most mocks and analysis has him going deeper in the teens and early 20s. The thing about the blocking scheme that the Dolphins use is that it doesn’t require elite players. It requires athletic players who work well together. So there are some options in rounds two, three and four that could do the trick. Ohio State’s Reid Fragel comes to mind as an option at right tackle. Alabama center Barrett Jones, who can play multiple positions could be an option in those rounds as well. Luke Joekel of Texas A&M, Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Oklahoma Sooner Lane Johnson, are the top rated tackles and should be gone by the time the Dolphins pick. I’ll be keeping my eye on Oregon‘s Kyle Long, Florida State‘s Menelik Watson and North Carolina’s Brennan Williams as solid options in rounds three to five. Days one and two in the draft are going to be a lot of fun for Dolphin fans. I know free agency was.
Tony Graham is a Miami Dolphin writer for RantSports.com.
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