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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Dolphins upgrade offensive line

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins head into the offseason needing to, once again, address the offensive line. They have to finally solve one of the biggest question marks on the team, and they will likely have to do it in the Draft, potentially adding another first-round pick to an offensive line that has already spent plenty of first-round picks trying to fix the problems. This year, the team will likely be looking for interior linemen, trying to add players who can both pass block and run block.

Offensive line is not the only need, but it is clearly among the top positions to be addressed this offseason. In his latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar does exactly that for Miami. After the Draft starts, in this projection, with the Cleveland Browns selecting USC quarterback Sam Darnold, the New York Giants picking UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, the Indianapolis Colts adding Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the Browns selecting Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the Denver Broncos picking up Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Dolphins see two of their potential top choices come off the board with the two picks directly in front of Miami.

Kadar projects the Oakland Raiders to use the ninth-overall pick to grab Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, then the San Francisco 49ers add Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. Where do the Dolphins go in this scenario? Well, Kadar sticks to the offensive line, picking up Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown. He writes of the selection:

Smith and Nelson in back-to-back picks in front of them would be awful news for the Dolphins. That could lead them to one of the offensive tackles expected to be taken in the first round. If the team moves on from Ja’Wuan James because of his contract, Brown could be a replacement on the right side. If not, the massive blocker could get a look on the inside.

At 6-foot-8, 345 pounds, “massive” might actually be an understatement. He was Oklahoma’s left tackle, so he could push Laremy Tunsil for that position, he could be the replacement, as Kadar pointed out, for James if the Dolphins decide to not re-sign their 2014 first-round pick, or he could slide inside to guard.

Brown is an interesting player to watch in the Draft process, because he has been listed around the internet from as early as a top-five pick, and he has been graded by other sites as a third- or fourth-round pick (with the admission that he will go earlier because of his size).

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks said of Browns before the 2017 season, “Big, athletic road grader with the size and length to nullify premier edge rushers. Brown isn’t a finished product at the position, but he possesses all of the traits that scouts covet in franchise offensive tackles.”

Lance Zierlein added, also before the season, on NFL.com, “I was underwhelmed in watching tape of Brown last summer, but he grew into his frame and got so much better in 2016. Brown’s size and length make pass rushing against him a miserable experience for edge rushers in the Big 12.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., ranked Brown on his mid-December “Big Board,” coming in at the 24th position. He wrote of the lineman, “I wrote about Brown earlier this season, when the 6-8, 345-pound left tackle was outstanding in the Sooners’ win at Ohio State. He helped protect OU quarterback Baker Mayfield from a defense that is loaded with future NFL talent. Brown is nimble for a big man, getting to the second level with ease. He has great feet and can easily slide outside to pick up blitzing linebackers. Georgia will be a huge test in the Rose Bowl, but I think he’s up to it.”

In that article Kiper mentioned, a September joint article with Tod McShay, he listed Brown as his “prospect on the rise,” explaining:

Here’s what I said before Saturday’s Oklahoma-Ohio State game:

“The matchup I’m watching in Oklahoma at Ohio State tonight: Massive Sooners LT Orlando Brown vs. OSU DEs Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa. Lots of talent there. Can Brown hold up and keep Baker Mayfield clean?”

The answer is an emphatic “yes.” Mayfield was sacked only twice in the Sooners’ big road win, and Brown was terrific against three future NFL pass-rushers. Brown is nimble for a big man, getting to the second level with ease. He has great feet and can slide easily outside to pick up blitzing linebackers.

The way he played Saturday night, he could be a top-five pick. Now, he needs to show that same level all season -- but he’s going to move into my Big Board this week. The best thing? He’s a left tackle all the way. NFL teams won’t have to worry about moving him to the right side. He’s trending toward the top tackle spot for the 2018 draft.

What would you think of the Dolphins selecting Brown? Would you look to use him as the replacement for James? Would you slide him in at left tackle and move Tunsil back to guard? Would you try Brown at guard, re-signing James and keeping Tunsil outside?