Morgan Moses Is Dark Horse To Become Miami Dolphins' 1st-Round Pick in 2014 NFL Draft

By Cody Strahm
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

One of the worst kept secrets of May’s draft is that the Miami Dolphins will select an offensive lineman, most likely a right tackle, during the first or second day. Owner Stephen Ross recently admitted as much and the team’s activity this offseason — addressing almost every need but right tackle — essentially ensures that GM Dennis Hickey will use one of his first selections on the position.

But what if the two first-round options who have been linked to Miami — Zack Martin and Taylor Lewan — are already off the board?

Martin is viewed as an ascending prospect by many and could realistically be nabbed by a tackle-needy team like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens, who hold the No. 15 and 17 overall picks respectively.

Lewan, meanwhile, was once regarded as a potential top 10 pick, but has since fallen a bit in the eyes of public perception at least after legal troubles off the field and having some of his flaws on the field brought to light by respected talent evaluators. Still, Lewan possesses an intriguing combination of size and athleticism that could entice a team within the top 18 picks.

If both Martin and Lewan are gone, the Dolphins will be in a tough spot. They could either a) pick up a prospect who plays a position of a lesser need or is simply the best player available (perhaps C.J. Mosley?) or b) “reach” for a right tackle who is regarded as a late first/early-second round pick.

Neglecting the offensive line in the first round wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. This is considered one of the deepest draft classes at tackle in recent memory, meaning a quality prospect should still be attainable with Miami’s second-round pick. And a difference-maker at a higher impact position would potentially provide the Dolphins with more value in the first round.

There’s always a chance that an unexpected run on tackles in the early second round could leave the Dolphins with the runt of the litter, though. And after what happened in 2013, that might not be a risk the Dolphins are willing to take.

Thus, the aforementioned plan B could come into effect. But who would be the tackle Miami “reaches” for? There are several candidates, including Antonio Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio and Ja’Wuan James just to name a few. But one name stands above the rest.

Virginia‘s Morgan Moses has been linked to the Dolphins throughout the offseason, usually as an option in round two or three. He’s a legitimate dark horse to become Miami’s first-round pick, though.

According to most pre-draft rankings, Moses isn’t considered worthy of that pick. Criticism from pundits who make such rankings would undoubtedly ensue if the Dolphins “reached” to select Moses in the first round.

But the whole concept of “reaching” for a prospect is frivolous and completely subjective. If the Dolphins believe Moses is worthy of the No. 19 overall pick that’s all that matters until his play on the field proves otherwise. Once the games begin, Moses’ ability to protect the quarterback and open up holes in the running game will define him — not where he was slotted by “experts.”

There’s good reason to believe Moses will exceed the expectations of those who peg him as merely day-two quality. Utilizing a massive frame and an 84-inch wingspan, Moses is easily able to keep edge rushers at bay. He also has impressive lateral quickness for his size and projects as an ideal fit in a zone-blocking scheme similar to Miami’s.

With experience at left tackle, Moses could potentially take over for Branden Albert down the road, but in the immediate future, he would play right tackle — a position that was responsible for 12 sacks in Miami last season. Moses played right tackle extensively (31 starts) before his move to the left side as a senior — an underrated factor considering those who play left tackle exclusively in college oftentimes struggle when forced to transition to the opposite side in the pros.

Moses’ last snaps at right tackle occurred in 2012, and Bill Lazor was his offensive coordinator. His next snaps at right tackle could transpire in Miami, where Lazor would, once again, be calling the shots.

To make a reunion possible, though, the Dolphins could be forced to use the No. 19 overall pick on Moses. Many would label doing so a reach. The Dolphins would likely just deem it getting a really good football player.

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