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Miami Dolphins Pre-Draft Analysis: Offensive Line

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After an abomination of an offensive line was fielded last season, the Dolphins made rebuilding the offensive line a priority. Here's my assessment of what they have done as well as what they still need to do.

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The Miami Dolphins' 2013 offensive line was atrocious. There is no way to sugar coat it. The Dolphins allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks last season and paved the way for the lowest team rushing total in ten years (yes, they were even worse than the historically bad 2007 Dolphins). For these two reasons alone we have yet to be able to clearly gauge the type of QB Ryan Tannehill is and could be.

The Dolphins offensive line was shuffled around due to a mid-season trade for LT Bryant McKinnie followed by the infamous "bullying" scandal which cost the Dolphins two starters. Eight different men started along the Dolphins' offensive line in 2013. This would be a problem for most teams as the offensive line a unit that is dependent on cohesion and continuity.

This, along with only three out of the eight players who started a game last season returning to the team made rebuilding the offensive line was not only a priority for the Dolphins' brass this offseason, but a necessity unless the Dolphins wanted to further the "David Carr treatment" that Tannehill received last season.

The Dolphins signed LT Branden Albert mere minutes into the start of the new league year to protect Tannehill's blind side. Albert was viewed as the best LT on the market, so it was understandable that Miami threw a big contract at him with the intentions of never letting him leave town without being a part of the team.

The Dolphins then added OG Shelley Smith to add to the line which now featured two Pro Bowlers in Albert and Mike Pouncey. Smith has played in 25 games the past two seasons for the St. Louis Rams but only started eight of those games.

Smith has been praised for his ability to move as a blocker and the hope is that he provides the Dolphins with a guard who can effectively get to the second level of a defense. Smith played his first season in the NFL under new Dolphins' OL coach John Benton when the two were with the Houston Texans.

Jason Fox, a former Miami Hurricane, was also signed to a one-year deal worth $795,000. Fox plans to compete at either RT or either G spot, but health has been an issue with Fox his whole professional career, so Fox is not a safe bet for any starting position.

The Dolphins also have Nate Garner, Sam Brenner and last year's third round pick Dallas Thomas on the roster. Miami believes that one of these men will be able to start on the line in 2014.


The Dolphins still have to fill the RT position and one of the OG spots. The Dolphins will likely spend at least two draft picks on offensive linemen to fortify these needs. Nearly every mock draft that has been published has the Dolphins taking Notre Dame OT Zack Martin, the fourth best OT in the draft, with the 19th pick.

While this is possible, it isn't likely as RT is not great value in the first round. Not only that, but this draft is extremely deep at OT and a starter might be able to be found as late as the fourth round. That being said, the Dolphins should take their RT no later than the third.

The Dolphins could see plenty of starting caliber talent on the board at RT when they're on the clock in the second and third rounds. Virginia's Morgan Moses, Tennessee teammates Juwuan James and Antonio Richardson, Alabama product Cyrus Kouandjio, Nevada's Joel Bitonio could all be on the board when Miami picks in the second round, but if not there is a slew of third and fourth round prospects to choose from.

I've said drafting a RT in the first round isn't great value, but Miami might not be able to resist Taylor Lewan if he drops to the 19th slot. Lewan, like Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross, is a Michigan man. Lewan plays at a position of need.

But Lewan's arrest history, including recent charges stemming from a bar fight last December, might warrant the Dolphins, weary of locker room presence's, to steer clear from this 6'7" Michigan man who is swift on his feet.

Finding an OG in this draft is a little tougher. To get one of the top-tier OGs, Miami will need to use a first or second-day pick on UCLA's Xavier Sua'Filo or Stanford's David Yankey. The class drops off after these two, but the Dolphins could find a later round value in Trai Turner from LSU or a small-school player like Furman's Dakota Dozier.

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