Depth of offensive line in draft could open up first round options for Dolphins

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This year's NFL Draft is full of offensive line talent, to the point that some analysts are saying second and third round selections could step in as starters in 2014. If that holds true, this could be a great draft for the Miami Dolphins.

What is the number one need for the Miami Dolphins in the 2014 offseason? Offensive tackle. What is the number two need for the Miami Dolphins in the 2014 offseason? Guard. This is going to be a year in which the Dolphins look to replinish - and upgrade - a decimated offensive line. At this time last year, the talk was all about Miami adding a flashy wide receiver. This offseason, they have to find a way to allow quarterback Ryan Tannehill to use that flashy wide receiver, Mike Wallace, as well as Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and Charles Clay. They do that by giving him time to throw the ball.

And they do that, by adding offensive linemen.

This year, several intriguing options could become available in free agency, but it may be the NFL Draft that is even better for the Dolphins. This year's selection process is thought to feature an incredibly deep group of offensive line prospects. Analysts are starting to comment that players taken in the second- and third-rounds could end up being starting linemen for their teams.

The guys I’ve looked at, there may be that opportunity," Arizona Cardinals general maanger Steve Keim told Dolphins.com's Andy Kent about the idea of a later pick starting on an offensive line. "The problem is, you don’t know what the run is going to be like. Last year, what were there four in the top 11 picks? And all those guys, if I recall correctly, played right tackle. And a lot of them struggled to some degree. It doesn’t mean if you take one that they are going to have any success either.”

This year's draft class, including names like Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, Michigan's tackle Taylor Lewan, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Auburn tackle Greg Robinson, Virginia tackle Morgan Moses, Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson, Notre Dame guard/tackle Taylor Lewan, Stanford guard David Yankee, and UCLA guard Xavier Su'a Filo, are all players considered worthy of an early pick, and potentially a starter.

The depth of this year's offensive linemen class could mean teams do not attack the offensive line like they have in years past. Rather than use a first round draft pick on an All-Pro, potential Hall of Fame lineman, why not target a higher graded prospect in the first round at a different position, if you believe you can get a Pro Bowl, decade long offensive line starter in the second round?

For the Dolphins, that could mean targeting players like safety Calvin Pryor or tight end Eric Ebron. They could consider linebacker C.J. Mosley, or the best wide receiver still on the board at pick 19. Simply put, the depth of the offensive line prospects this year could open up possibilities for the Dolphins.

No matter what the team decides, the offensive line will serve as the decision point for Miami in 2014. Free agency and the NFL Draft will feature plenty of tackles and guards for the Dolphins, because the team has to fix the fact that the team allowed a franchise record 58 sacks last year. They have to keep Tannehill upright if they are going to find any success. And adding offensive line talent is the only way they are going to be able to accomplish that.

But, it may not have to be first round talent this year.

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