This post is part of a series of posts that will break down and evaluate the Miami Dolphins position by position. If you haven't read up on how players are being classified (the number and letter that follow each player's name), you can read this post explaining the evaluation system. You can also read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.
As we progress through our evaluation of the entire Dolphins roster, I thought it would be a good idea to divide up the offensive line into two different positions - tackles and interior line. Some guys do cross over and can play multiple spots along the line. So I tried to do the best I could at placing each player in each group.
Let's get to the grading...
Jake Long (1-A). People will forever second guess the front office's decision to pass on Matt Ryan in favor of Long. Regardless of how you feel about taking a LT over a QB, the fact is the Dolphins did get a dominant left tackle. Long is as good as it gets in this league. There is no player in the entire NFL better than Long at what he does. If his career progresses as it has through his first three seasons, he'll be on his way to Canton when all is said and done.
Vernon Carey (2-B). Big Vern will be 30 years old this summer and is coming off of a season that ended with the big right tackle on Injured Reserve. But Carey has been as reliable and durable as they come in his career, making 87 consecutive starts dating back to his rookie season (and playing through pain more often than we all knew) before getting placed on IR. He should probably lose a few pounds. But he's still got plenty left in the tank, though talk of a move inside to guard could grow louder as the offseason progresses.
Lydon Murtha (3-D). Since being signed off of the Lions practice squad in 2009, Murtha has seen action in ten games, including four starts last year. In his limited action, I have noticed improvement in his play. I don't know much about developing offensive line talent. But I know that Murtha has shown enough to warrant a fair shake as the team's primary backup tackle.
Matt Kopa (4-F). Graduating from Stanford, Kopa was signed as an undrafted free agent by the 49ers and signed off of the Niners practice squad by the Dolphins in November. He was only active in one game but didn't see action.
Allen Barbre (4-F). Barbre is a little old for a developmental prospect. He'll be 27 in June and is a four year veteran who was selected by the Packers in the fourth round of 2007. He appeared in 25 games in GB, including seven starts in 2009. He then appeared in three games with Seattle last year before being cut. The Dolphins signed him for the final week of the season, but was inactive for the finale.
James Marten (4-F). Marten signed a reserve/future contract with the Dolphins in January after finishing the season on Miami's practice squad. The Boston College grad, though, will be 27 in April and, like Barbre, is probably getting too old to be considered a project.
Contract situations: The only notable expiring contract belongs to Lydon Murtha. But Murtha will be an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he'll be back in Miami assuming the Dolphins want him to return.
Outlook: The Dolphins appear set at the tackle position. They could look to bring in competition for the role of primary backup. They also could take a developmental prospect late in the draft. But the team has far bigger needs than at OT.