In a year that has seen the Miami Dolphins turn to free agency and the NFL Draft to rebuild an offensive line that allowed a team-record 58 sacks in 2013, it may be a surprise player who mans the left guard position for the team. During the 2013 Draft, the team selected Tennessee offensive tackle Dallas Thomas in the third round.
Thomas was coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him throughout the offseason training program for the Dolphins, as well as the first part of training camp. When he was able to start participating in practice, the team seemed determined to make him fit as an NFL tackle, rather than moving him to guard, which, along with the missed practices and being well behind the rest of the offense in preparation for 2013, ultimately caused Thomas to disappear for nearly the entire season.
This offseason, the Dolphins spent a lot of time addressing the offensive line. They signed free agents like tackles Branden Albert and Jason Fox and guard Shelley Smith. They then used their first round draft choice to select tackle Ja'Wuan James and their third round choice on tackle/guard Billy Turner.
When the Dolphins opened the offseason workouts three weeks ago, it was not any of the new acquisitions who were manning the top spot at left guard, however. It was Thomas. As the Organized Team Activities continued, it was Thomas who continued to hold down the spot in the starting lineup.
Turner could battle for the position, but clearly, Thomas has the early advantage. The selection of Turner this year means the team could be looking for him to become a stalwart on the offensive line for the Dolphins for years - but the same can be said of Thomas just one year ago. The Dolphins could be set for years with a combination of Turner and Thomas at guard in the future. This year, however, it appears only one of the two will have a place with the top five (Smith appears set to start at right guard).
Will Turner beat out Thomas this year? It is possible, though it does appear Thomas is in the lead early in this battle. Which brings us to this morning's question: How many game will Dallas Thomas start in 2014?