In the second part of our look at CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan's recent article addressing what it means to have depth in the NFL, we turn from backup quarterback to backup offensive tackle. Kirwan developed 13 questions, looking at key positions on the field and who would fill in if needed. In the end, Kirwan found that the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals best fit the idea of "depth" on a roster.
In his "honorable mention" list, Kirwan placed the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and a "tossup" between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Explaining how the Dolphins, and the other teams, landed on that list, Kirwan wrote, "they don't satisfy all the categories but they did better than most teams hitting on at least nine of the 13."
Since the Dolphins met the entry criteria for the depth discussion by having a backup quarterback that "can go at least 2-2 in a four-game stretch" with Matt Moore, the next question on Kirwan's list is:
Does your team have a real swing offensive tackle, a guy that can play left or right tackle and has experience?
That's a tough question for the Dolphins, especially the Dolphins who are currently looking to replace Pro Bowl center MIke Pouncey, who will miss at least three months after having hip surgery. Miami has Nate Garner, who is a jack-of-all-trades type of utility lineman, and he has experience in the starting lineup. He can fill in well at four of the five offensive line positions, but clearly, Garner's weakest position is left tackle.
The club has a lot of potential options for left tackle depth, including Jason Fox, who has been working behind Branden Albert as of late, and, potentially, Dallas Thomas or Billy Turner, both of whom are working as guards in the Miami offensive line right now, but played tackle in college. The team could also move Ja'Wuan James, this year's first round draft choice, to the left side if it comes down to it, then slide someone like Garner into the right tackle position.
The Dolphins options to back up Albert is clearly based on potential at this point, without a clear "swing tackle" and with a lack of experience. The team is not far from being able to fill this need from Kirwan's list, but it simply is not something the team can do today, and it will likely be that way through at least this season.