The 2023 NFL Draft was fairly uneventful for the Miami Dolphins, who entered the three-day selection process with four picks, then used those four selections in the scheduled spots. After years of multiple first-round selections and trades up and down the draft order, this year seemed pedestrian, at least in terms of trade drama. Miami came away with a fairly solid draft class, using a second-round pick on South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith, a third-round selection on Texas A&M running back Devon Achane, a sixth-round pick on Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins, and a seventh-rounder on Michigan tackle Ryan Hayes.
Before any of those players, or any of the undrafted free agents Miami signed after the draft, have even been able to take the field for the team yet, it is already time to start thinking about the 2024 NFL Draft. Over on Pro Football Focus yesterday, Max Chadwick released his Way-Too-Early 2024 NFL Mock Draft, and he has Miami addressing a position they selected in this year’s draft, but one that was seen as a top need heading into and out of the draft.
Using Super Bowl 58 odds, Chadwick has Miami holding the 22nd overall pick. With it, he gives the Dolphins Duke offensive tackle Graham Barton. He explains of the pick:
Barton was the only Power Five tackle who posted 85-plus grades as both a pass and run blocker last season. His 17 big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks) were five more than any other tackle in the country. He’ll boost a Dolphins offensive line that needs to do everything it can to protect Tua Tagovailoa.
All-ACC first team for @grahambarton53 pic.twitter.com/UfIE65UezO— Duke Football (@DukeFOOTBALL) November 29, 2022
The addition of Barton, who started his college career at center then moved out to left tackle for the past two seasons, could make a lot of sense for the Dolphins after the 2023 season. Terron Armstead is the team’s incumbent left tackle and would likely remain there for the 2024 season as he would cost the team $3.5 million in additional salary cap space over his scheduled $20.6 million cap number should the team release him. The team could choose to spread that over two years, if they made him a post-June 1 designated cut, but, unless Armstead’s play completely falls off this year, he should be back in 2024.
Of course, Armstead will also turn 32 at the start of training camp this year and his headed into his 11th season, with injuries having cost him playing time every year of his career. Could he retire after the season?
Assuming Armstead is back, however, would mean Barton, or any offensive tackle selected by Miami, could start his career at right tackle, assuming incumbent Austin Jackson or someone like rookie Hayes do not develop into the blind-side, lock-down tackle Miami needs to protect left-handed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Barton appears set to be one of the top tackle prospects in 2024, and he could be on Miami’s radar for next year’s draft.