The Miami Dolphins have plenty of question marks all over the roster given the influx of new talent at every position. There are no marks more glaring than those on Miami’s offensive line, a unit that boasts more potential, but more uncertainty than it has in years.
Per NFL.com’s Charley Casserly, Miami’s revamped o-line is one of the team’s top storylines to watch for the upcoming season. Regarding the front-five, Casserly notes:
The Dolphins will have four new starters, so it could take some time for this unit to jell. Can Jackson hold up at left tackle vs. power rushers? And Hunt against speed rushers? Who will emerge as the starting right guard? Will it be Jesse Davis, who is a good athlete with strength but is a converted D-lineman, or second-year pro Mike Deiter, who needs to improve his handling of quick rushers and tends to play too high and with his hands too wide? Davis could end up as the right tackle if Hunt is unable to handle fending off pass rushers. The only two sure starters in this lineup are LG Erik Flowers and C Ted Karras. Otherwise, there are a lot of unanswered questions.
Four new starters... let that sink in. It’s been penned by just about every NFL pundit that the offensive line is the most important part of any attack outside of the quarterback under center. Without a strong offensive line, a running game can’t function and an aerial attack will never get off the ground (pun very much intended).
As Casserly explains, Miami has several rookies who will be counted on to make an impact from day one. First-round draft pick Austin Jackson will be looked at as the team’s replacement for franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil who was shipped off to the Houston Texans last year. Everyone and their grandmother knows that Julien Davenport was a stop-gap replacement at best.
Robert Hunt could potentially slide in to guard, but it’s likely the Dolphins drafted him high in the second round to be left-handed gunslinger Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside protector of the future at right tackle. Fourth-round selection Solomon Kindley could be a depth option behind free agent acquisition Ereck Flowers at left guard, but he may also fight for playing time alongside 2019 third-round draft pick Michael Deiter and veteran Jesse Davis on the right. As Casserly pointed out, the pivot position at center also has a new face in free agent signee Ted Karras.
Regardless of who ends up starting where, Ryan Fitzpatrick will have several new faces trying to keep his jersey clean on Sundays. If there’s any hope of Tagovailoa seeing the field and succeeding early in his career, Brian Flores and his coaching staff are going to need to make sure those new faces start to gel, and quickly. Expect the offensive line to be a unit that receives plenty of attention not only for its development this season, but in free agency and the draft in offseasons to come.