Everybody is debating what the Dolphins will do with their coveted first round pick in this upcoming NFL draft. Everywhere you turn, people are debating on blogs, websites, and radio stations what Miami will or should do with their selection. No one seems to have a clue what the Dolphins plan to do, including all of the beat writers who closely cover the team. It’s one giant riddle that everyone is trying to figure out.
However, even with all of these round table discussions, there is one player that no one seems to be talking about that could potentially have the biggest impact on this year’s draft. To the casual Dolphin fan, the name Lydon Murtha probably doesn’t ring a bell. Nor should it, since he has spent the last three years either backing up LT Jake Long or being placed on injured reserve. In my opinion, he is the “wild card” that simply got lost in the draft debate deck. He’s a true “X” factor that could influence the decisions made by Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin this upcoming April with their first round selection.
Ireland thinks very highly of Murtha and most likely has plans for the big man in 2012. The 6’7”, 315 pound monster played college football at Nebraska, the NFL’s go-to factory for stud offensive lineman. He was drafted in the 7th round by the Detroit Lions in 2009 and placed on their practice squad. A month later, Ireland went out and plucked him off the Lions practice squad, signing him to a deal. Murtha has had very limited playing time during his three years in Miami. In 2010, he saw some action playing in nine games filling in for the injured right tackle Vernon Carey.
But, don’t let his absence on the field fool you. While LT Jake Long was resting his sore knee, Murtha filled in and had a solid training camp last year, making headlines for being a “stonewall” on the line. He was definitely turning heads and impressing both his coaches and teammates. Jason Taylor and Cameron Wake were completely shut down going up against him. The light was finally shining down on Murtha who was making a strong case for the starting job at right tackle. Unfortunately, he fractured his toe causing him to be placed on IR for season ending surgery.
According to Murtha’s agent, he is completely healed, healthy, and anxious to get back on the field. Let’s not kid ourselves here folks; he would have replaced RT Marc Colombo by week three if he was healthy. Tony Sparano was simply out of options and lacked trust in John Jerry at that time and was forced to keep Colombo in the lineup. With Murtha out, there was no “plan B.”
Many have argued that the right tackle position is the number one need currently on this team. After suffering through an entire year watching Colombo constantly get beat game after game, I would have to agree with that assessment. After all, the Dolphins did finish the season 30th in the league in pass protection, giving up a franchise record of 52 sacks. There is no question that the right tackle position HAS to be addressed this offseason. Considering we may have a diamond in the rough with Murtha, does this have to be done with our first round pick?
Right now, it is one of the hottest topics for debate and the fans seem to be divided on their position of choice. It’s understandable that fans are screaming for a first round right tackle selection to solidify the O-line. Colombo will not be retained for next season. Some will argue that the Dolphins should move Vernon Carey back to his old stomping grounds at RT. In my personal opinion, I believe we have seen the last of Carey and he will not be an option for the Dolphins next year. He is a free agent and unless he agrees to a super low-ball contract, the Dolphins cannot afford to pay him to come back. I’m not “hating” on Carey, but this is just the reality of the situation. So this leads me to my question, what about Lydon Murtha?
The whole point of this article is to shed some insight and light on Murtha. Get use to his name. Based on my research and the opinions of those who closely cover the Dolphins, he has a lot of potential with the skill set needed to be an effective tackle. Most importantly, he is an “Ireland” guy. Don’t be surprised if Miami plans to start Murtha at right tackle next year. He was brought here and groomed under the tutelage of Jake Long to eventually do this. Thus, the Dolphins wouldn’t have to use ANOTHER first round pick on an unsexy offensive lineman. The main question is, can he stay healthy?