Before we begin, I want to thank those who willingly "stomached" the Jonathan Cooper analysis video posted earlier today. I've never been someone to advocate taking a guard with the No. 12 overall pick, but holy hell would that guy open things up for the Dolphins' offensive line. The sheer thought of Cooper and Pouncey playing alongside each other should be enough to boot Dolphins fans into hyperventilation (well, everyone outside of the "Why the f*** would we ever draft an offensive lineman within the first f***ing six rounds!?" crew), and that's why Cooper will be a candidate to land in Miami next month (if he gets out of the top 11, of course).
Look, everyone here is entitled to their opinion, and if someone doesn't like the thought of drafting offensive linemen early, that's absolutely fine. If someone believes first-round picks should be used on positions that directly generate points, that's also fine. But to suggest that it's a poor decision to draft an offensive lineman in the first round is wrong. To suggest that offensive lineman don't make a difference in today's game is wrong. To suggest that we take a cavalier approach to refining the offense line, especially now that the Dolphins actually have a quarterback worth protecting, is just clown shoes.
None of that is to suggest that a team should take just any lineman available in the top 10 or 15, and if you have a choice between a quarterback and a top-flight offensive lineman, for the love of God, take the quarterback. We've witnessed first-hand what can happen otherwise.
On the contrary, if you have a franchise quarterback in tow, it's almost always a good idea to at least consider bringing in a franchise-caliber offensive lineman. I wrote an article last fall detailing the structure of Green Bay's zone-blocking offensive line, and how the team has succeeded in finding quality guard talent in the middle rounds of recent drafts. What I didn't point out in the article was the fact that the Packers three years ago were fully aware that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was paying the price for his team's decision to not acquire big-time OL talent. That's probably why Green Bay drafted Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga No. 23 overall in 2010, and that's probably why it selected another offensive lineman (Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod) at No. 32 overall the following spring. Thing is, Bulaga is a world-class tackle; Sherrod can't stay healthy. Still, if you're looking at things from a best player available (BPA) standpoint, you really cannot fault the Packers for at least trying to load up at tackle in order to keep Rodgers out of a wheelchair. The Chicago Bears could learn a thing or 20 from such an approach.
All of this brings us to the No. 3 overall tackle in this year's draft: Oklahoma's Lane Johnson. Several reports indicate that the Dolphins would like themselves some L.J. at the No. 12 spot, but it's highly, highly, highly (!!!) unlikely he slides that far. Of the first 11 picks in this draft, at least nine belong to a team with considerable issues somewhere along its offensive line, and Johnson's length and rare athleticism should serve as virtual catnip to teams like the Lions (No. 5 pick), Cardinals (No. 7) and tackle-starved Chargers (No. 11). Still, it's tasty to imagine Johnson cracking skulls in a Dolphins uniform (while wearing Keith Sims' No. 69, no less), and his presence on the offensive line would probably help Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin sleep at night.
Nevertheless, I've posted a short reel of Johnson tape in the name of due diligence. Give it a whirl and you'll probably understand why many analysts are so hot to trot about the former Sooner tackle.