Ever since left tackle Jake Long was drafted with the number one overall pick in 2008, Miami Dolphin fans have spent little time worrying about the offensive line and a lot more time worrying about the rest of the offense.
For the first time in a while the topic of worry has been reversed after the additions of wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson along with tight end Dustin Keller and the continuing progresss of rising quarterback Ryan Tannehill. All of this, mixed with the departure of left tackle Jake Long explains the change in concern.
But is there really a reason to be worried about the line?
There’s no question that losing Long has left a gaping hole for the Miami Dolphins at left tackle, but they hope it can be filled with second year pro Jonathan Martin. Martin had a solid rookie season on the right side, but is familiar with the left tackle position after having played it at Stanford.
Confidence maybe running high from the Martin camp, but there are still four other starting guys on the line that warrant attention. So its time to take a closer look at the rest of the offensive line and decide if the concern is necessary.
Since general manager Jeff Ireland took over in 2008 the Dolphins have drafted seven offensive linemen including five in the first three rounds. So its safe to say Miami has a lot of young pieces to work with.
Highlighting the squad is third-year veteran center Mike Pouncey who has spent both of his NFL seasons as the Dolphins starting center. Pouncey has been nothing but solid since he stepped on the field in South Florida.
Next up is left guard pro bowler Richie Incognito whose in a contract year with Miami. Last season Incognito was selected as an alternate for the pro bowl squad after a strong 2012 campaign.
After that, however, there’s some reason for concern.
There’s right guard John Jerry who has battled weight issues in the past. Though he eventually made his way into the starting lineup during camp, but not before he garnered his share of doubters.
Tyson Clabo, an eight year veteran who was signed back in May, is expected to earn the starting right tackle spot, but not without a little competition from Dolphin veterans Nate Garner and Will Yeatman.
After the projected starters there are still several options. Miami signed right guard Lance Louis from the Bears who will pose serious competition for Jerry in training camp. Though Louis is recovering from ACL surgery he is expected to be ready for camp.
There’s also Dolphins rookie Dallas Thomas who will push Clabo for his starting spot. Thomas, who was Miami’s third round pick in April, played tackle at Tennessee earning third-team All-American status and second team All-SEC in 2012.
With a wide range of talent and experience levels why are Dolfans and critics alike so concerned with the offensive line going into training camp?
New faces bring uncertainty, but they also bring excitement. So maybe all this criticism is unnecessary and perhaps for the first time in a while there’s no reason to be worried on the offensive side of the ball.
Maybe, just maybe.