The Miami Dolphins have been having some luck lately. Good luck, which is, of course, the only kind we're interested in. After a run on wide receivers in the first and second rounds of the 2014 draft, we still were able to land Jarvis Landry late in round two. This success carried over to the following year, when DeVante Parker slid all the way down to the fourteenth overall pick and ended up in Miami. Say what you will about our NFL record eight of twelve first round draft picks having been offensive players - and make no mistake - this is still an issue for this franchise - barring injury, the Dolphins look to have hit upper deck home runs with each of their two most recent number one draft picks.
This past April, when the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans selected offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin, from Notre Dame and Michigan State, respectively, Ole Miss stud lineman Laremy Tunsil fell right into the Dolphins' laps, at number thirteen overall. The man whose unusual name invokes images of having one's adenoids removed in Southeastern Wyoming has a chance to become Miami's best offensive lineman since at least Richmond Webb, in 1990, and maybe even better than that.
While college scouting is by no means an infallible science, on the basis of pre draft grades, Tunsil was more than just the top rated player in this year's draft -- he's the top rated player to come out of the college ranks in the past four years. Again, we're talking draft grades only; he still has to prove it on the field. Plenty of offensive linemen who were studs in college have underwhelmed once they turned pro. In fact, it was almost certainly the disappointing performance of 1989 number two overall pick Tony Mandarich, and other teams' fear of a similar first round bust the following year, that caused the aforementioned Webb to fall to the ninth overall pick, where Don Shula obligingly snapped him up to protect Dan Marino's blind side. Similarly, after the first two picks of the 2013 draft, Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, and Andrus Peat, last season, struggled to live up to expectations, teams once again grew wary of expending high picks on blockers.
Enter Tunsil. Rated as a five star recruit in high school by Rivals scouting service, Laremy was offered a scholarship by every single BCS program in America -- every Big East team (8), every ACC team (8), SEC team (12), Pac 12 team, Big 12 and Big 10 team -- that's 66 schools in all -- offered this young man a scholarship ! Try to imagine being a high school football player, sitting on your living room couch, going through boxes upon boxes of mail from colleges all over the country. Your mom walks in, and says, "So, how are you doing, son ? Have you gotten many offers ?" She asks you how many schools have offered you a scholarship, and you reply, "Um, well . . . all of 'em, mom." Has any high school player ever received a scholarship offer from every single college program in the nation, before ? Talk about being sought after.
Tunsil, though, by all accounts, has remained just as humble as ever, displaying the even tempered demeanor we'd expect from a man who plays a relatively anonymous position. Rarely do you hear an offensive lineman's name called on Sunday, unless he's whistled for a false start or holding penalty. Hailing from Lake City, Florida, an hour due West of Jacksonville, in the rugged North Florida back country, where there is actually a hunting season for bear, he attended Columbia High School, which has produced a whopping ten other NFL players over the years, including defensive linemen Reinard Wilson and Timmy Jernigan. Despite the controversy surrounding his draft day cameo on social media, and the scrutiny that has followed him since then, as well as his move inside to offensive guard, Tunsil hasn't allowed any of the extra attention to affect his concentration, and recently said that when you love football, it doesn't matter which position you play. Here's to hoping our front office can find more players like Laremy Tunsil.