All offseason, the common theme when reading about the Miami Dolphins was how the team needed a new left tackle to replace Jake Long. Miami was going to have to sign, or possible trade, for someone who could protect second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blindside. Instead, the Dolphins turned to another second year player, Jonathan Martin, to man the position.
Martin was a three-year starter at left tackle at Stanford. It's a position he is comfortable playing, and from what we saw at the end of the season, it may be the position he is supposed to play. Martin struggled throughout his rookie year, being rated by Pro Football Focus as the 76th of 80 rated tackles on the season, but played better when he was thrust into the hole vacated by an injury to Long. Now, with an entire offseason to prepare, and add muscle, Martin is poised to prove he can lock down Tannehill's blindside like he locked down Andrew Luck's blindside at Stanford.
"I'm excited. It's a position I want to play, obviously," Martin recently told Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com. "I'm excited for the challenge, I'm excited for the opportunity so I'm going to try to make the most of it during these OTAs and do whatever I can to help this team win."
Third year center, Mike Pouncey, likes Martin on the left side of the line. "He's more fluid over there," Pouncey said. "You can tell when he's kick sliding that way he's more comfortable being in a left-handed stance. Obviously, he wanted to play over there last year but he was forced to play the right side and I think he's going to do a great job."
The Dolphins will run an offensive line with Martin at left tackle, Pro Bowl left guard Richie Incognito, Pouncey at center, and the newly signed, and former Pro Bowl selection, Tyson Clabo at right tackle. The only position really under competition still is the right guard spot, where incumbent John Jerry, the newly signed Lance Louis, and, possibly, third round draft pick Dallas Thomas, could all earn the starting spot by the end of training camp.
Looking back at last season, Martin realizes there is more to do to be ready for this season. "I played all right," he said. "I definitely have a lot of room for improvement from where I finished up the year last year, so I think it's a good barometer just in terms of how I played as a rookie, but it gives me a basis from which I can improve from this season. When it comes down to it left tackles have to protect the quarterback. That's what you're getting paid to do and that's the job description."