Last week, we looked at a tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins that may be a draft day target for the Dolphins. ASJ was brought in by the team for a visit last week and could provide Ryan Tannehill the big red zone target he currently lacks. This week, we will look at a potential mid round pick that could become not just a starter, but an impact player on the offensive line.
Everyone and their brother knew the Miami Dolphins needed help on the offensive line after a rough 2013 season. Jonathan Martin started the season as the left tackle. He struggled and well, we all know how that turned out. Right tackle Tyson Clabo struggled initially, but after being benched, then regaining the starting spot, he played better. Regardless of those issues, Miami was going to have issues on the line, simply because 4 of the 5 starters were free agents this year. All four left and only John Jerry has been signed by a team, inking a deal with the Giants.
Miami was proactive in getting replacements, signing Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert on the first day of free agency. They added rotational starter Shelley Smith at guard and expect him to compete and earn a starting spot. Coach Philbin also hinted that he expects second year lineman Dallas Thomas to find a starting spot on the line, most likely at guard. Reserve utility lineman Nate Garner has played well in spots and should compete for a starting guard spot. The Dolphins have stated they plan on addressing the right tackle position in the draft. They have also added a reserve right tackle in Jason Fox this offseason. Overall, Miami's offensive line should be improved with the additions they have made or will make. Of course will free agency essentially over, it's time to focus on the latter part of that last sentence with additions they will make in the draft.
It has become cliché to mock Notre Dame offensive tackle Zach Martin to the Dolphins in the first round. It is almost as bad as 2011 when every mock draft had the Dolphins taking Alabama running back Mark Ingram. While Martin may be in play at 19, there may be other players Miami may want. They may want C.J. Mosley or the aforementioned Seferian-Jenkins (don't rule it out). They may prefer a bigger tackle like Morgan Moses. Miami has plenty of options there instead of Martin, who may not be available. Miami may wait to take a right tackle on the second day when players like Antonio Richardson, JuWuan James, and the player I'm about to discuss will be available.
North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner has been a favorite prospect of mine for much of this offseason. Keith texted me one day and told me I needed to watch some tape of this kid. I was not disappointed. He's not a perfect prospect, but has all the tools to become a dominant offensive lineman.
Arm Length: 34"
Hand Size: 10"
Bench Reps: 25
Quick feet; can handle the speed rush
Good initial punch
Plays aggressive; threw the whistle
Potential to be dominant at the second level
Awareness to recognize stunts
Ability to recognize counter moves and redirect
Thin in the lower body; needs to add bulk and strength for the NFL in order to anchor
Played at I-AA (FCS) level; may take more time to adjust
Inconsistent technique at times; will lunge or play too high
No experience inside at guard
Footwork needs refinement
What He Brings To The Dolphins
Turner would be set to become the right tackle and potentially left tackle in a few seasons if the team moves on from Albert. The fact he is somewhat raw means that if the Dolphins added him, he may not become the immediate starter. Turner has expressed an interest in playing guard, which means he would require more development for that position. However, if the coaches feel he can play tackle, then he will play tackle.
Where Miami Will Have to Draft Him
I've seen Turner's stock anywhere from second round to fifth round. It all depends on how much development teams feel he would need. For Miami, he would clearly be a right tackle prospect and that puts him in the mid round range. Ideally, Turner is a player they could get in the third or fourth round AND would be the second offensive lineman drafted. That means they could take their time developing him into a tackle or guard without expectations being too high.
Next time, we will look at another big tight end prospect that seems underrated, but appears to be gaining some steam heading into draft weekend.