The Miami Dolphins have rebuilt their offensive line, adding four new starters through free agency and the NFL Draft. A year after allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks, the Dolphins had to spend the time and the resources to better protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill and find lanes for running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. After signing Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, selecting Ja'Wuan James with their first round draft pick, and several other moves, the Dolphins appear to have the pieces to fix their top issue.
With all of the moves, theDolphins now have the fourth youngest offensive line in the league, according to a Philly.com report based on projected starters. Miami's line averages 25-years-old, with just the Green Bay Packers (24.6), Kansas City Chiefs (24.4), and Jacksonville Jagaurs (23.6) younger.
Projecting the starters for the Dolphins is a little difficult, especially at the guard position, simply because no one is locked into the spot yet. Assuming the tackles are set, the starters for Miami, at least as best estimated to get the Philly.com 25-years-old average, are:
The Dolphins also have David Arkin (26), Shelley Smith (27), Dallas Thomas (24), Evan Finkenberg (23), David Hurd (23), Tyler Larsen (22), Davonte Wallace (22), Jason Fox (26), Michael Ola (26), and Sam Brenner (24) all in the mix for a starting slot as well. If any of them are inserted into the lineup over Garner, the team could actually move down in average starting age for the offensive line, possibly as far as tying the Jaguars for the youngest offensive line at 23.6 (assuming Wallace or Larsen at 22 is starting).
For comparison around the AFC East, offensive lines rank the oldest in the league (New England Patriots - 29.2), fourth oldest (New York Jets - 28.2), and 17th oldest (Buffalo Bills - 26.6). There are 13 offensive line projected to be starters this season over the age of 31, with the Patriots starting two (guards Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly) and the Jets playing one (guard Willie Colon).
What does all of this mean? It could mean the Patriots and Jets are getting close to seeing their offensive line play dramatically drop off as players near retirement. It could mean the Dolphins are betting on an inexperienced line coming together to drastically improve play from last year. It could mean the Buffalo Bills are sitting right in the prime position for their offensive line to dominate.
Of course, this is all based purely on age, and not actual talent. An offensive line full of 25-year-old players who cannot block is obviously going to be a lot worse than a 22-year-old or 30-year-old line with talent. The answer will not be known until the season starts, but, for the Dolphins, this year could be the first step toward building the dominant offensive line they want for years to come.