The 2014 season will be the third for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, making it a critical season for him to prove that he can be the team’s starting quarterback for the long term. If the 2014 NFL Draft is any indication, the Dolphins have a lot of belief in him, because Miami did a great job during the draft of giving Tannehill support and putting him in position to succeed.
The first thing the Dolphins did was get some protection for Tannehill, taking offensive linemen with two of their first three picks. First-round pick Ja’Wuan James wasn’t the highest touted lineman available in the draft, but he’s fundamentally sound and has the size and strength to be a quality NFL lineman. James will be an instant upgrade for the Dolphins at right tackle, and with free agent acquisition Branden Albert at left tackle, Miami will have a viable tandem at offensive tackle to keep Tannehill protected in the pocket.
The Dolphins continued to add help along the offensive line in the third round with Billy Turner of North Dakota State. Turner is a high-ceiling lineman who could back up Albert at left tackle, where he played in college, while challenging for a starting spot at one of the guard positions likely to be his long-term home. Miami needs a lot of help at guard, and Turner was a great pick to address that need and give Tannehill more time in the pocket to throw.
The Dolphins also did a nice job of getting Tannehill a few useful skill players to throw the ball to. The first is Jarvis Landry, who lacks the size and high ceiling of many of the top wide receivers in the 2014 draft but may be one of the most dependable receivers among all rookies. Landry rarely drops a pass and is willing to go across the middle, despite his lack of size. He will quickly gain Tannehill’s trust as a reliable pass catcher, and that’s something he needs with the inconsistency of Miami’s top receiver Mike Wallace.
The Dolphins also drafted tight end Arthur Lynch, another great pass catcher who will give Tannehill a big target on intermediate routes and in the red zone. The Dolphins also took a chance late in the draft on wide receiver Matt Hazel, who will give Miami another set of reliable hands and some much-needed depth at wide receiver.
Most are giving the Dolphins a disappointing grade in the 2014 NFL Draft, but despite some shortcomings they did a great job of giving their young quarterback some support, both along the offensive line and with a few new passing targets. They didn’t make a big splash with one big-time acquisition, but several modest acquisitions can go a long way towards setting Tannehill up to succeed in 2014, allowing him to prove that he can be Miami’s quarterback for a long time to come.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.