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Dolphins offensive line: Better, worse, or same in 2016?

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A position by position look at the Miami Dolphins’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2015 roster.

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Minicamp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Our Phinsider series on the status of the 2016 Miami Dolphins roster continues this morning. We are working our way through the team’s roster, comparing the 2016 version to the 2015 roster, trying to decide whether the roster has gotten better, worse, or stayed the same since last year. We are simply looking at the names on the roster and trying to determine how the talent there compares from last year.

We continue our series, after having already covered the quarterback position, as well the running backs group, the wide receivers, and the tight ends. We move today to the offensive line.

Offensive line

Branden Albert
Laremy Tunsil
Mike Pouncey
Billy Turner
Ja’Wuan James
Jamil Douglas
Dallas Thomas
Sam Young
Kraig Urbik
Ulrick John
Jermon Bushrod
Vinston Painter
Anthony Steen
Ruben Carter
Jacques McClendon

Analysis

This may be the most important position for the Dolphins heading into the 2016 season, and the one that might still have the largest question marks. There has been a lot of turnover in the position, but there basic core is still the same. At this point last year, the starting lineup was Albert, Douglas, Pouncey, Turner, and James. Thomas eventually overtook Douglas at the starting left guard position, but all of those players are still on the roster, and could make the team. Tunsil is clearly the biggest addition this year, falling to the Dolphins with the 13th overall pick after a video leaked of him appearing to smoke marijuana appeared just minutes before the NFL Draft started. He is penciled in as the starting left guard, but Thomas has been pushing the rookie, who is making the transition from college tackle to professional guard, and appears to have the slight edge heading into training camp.

Douglas is still in the mix to either fight for a starting guard role or head into his second year as a primary backup. The team also brought several veteran free agents in this offseason to serve as depth options, including Sam Young, Kraig Urbik, Ulrick John, and Jermon Bushrod. These are players replacing last July’s group of Jason Fox, Jeff LInkenbach, J.D. Walton, and Sam Brenner. At some point, one or more of them will have to contribute, so the Dolphins will need them to be improved over last year’s group.

Better, Worse, Same

Better. Tunsil really makes the difference here. Even if he is beaten for the starting position on opening day, he provides quality depth for Albert at left tackle, and he should continue to develop into his role as a guard. The veteran depth options may not be stellar names, but they should be solid players than can be plugged into the lineup if and when they are needed.