Dolphins Still Have Line Issues


It’s been one week since free agency officially kicked off and already it has slowed to a snails crawl.  That’s the NFL March meat market for you.  Lose out on the top players and you have to start looking for short term solutions and gap fillers.  That is where Miami should be but instead they still have holes to fill along the offensive line and frankly, the NFL Draft is not going to provide the winning formula.

Rarely, even more rare than rarely, I will agree with an article that was written by the Miami Heralds Armando Salguero.  Which is now behind a pay wall.  The truth is Salguero is right when he says the Dolphins needed to do more on the offensive line.  Frankly, Dennis Hickey who has done a good job as a first time GM needed to not look at value so early on.

The Dolphins made an offer to Zane Beadles the former Denver RT.  They were about a million short.  A million, maybe two at the most.  That’s really not that much when you figure he shores up a big need on your team for the next three to four years.  Instead, the Dolphins wouldn’t increase their offer and Beadles signed with the Jaguars.  The Jaguars.  Let that sink in for a second.  The days of the Miami Dolphins name meaning more than the Jaguars is over.  It’s about money now.  Miami had it to spend and they failed.

The signing of Branden Albert is a very solid signing.  He improves the left side of the line tremendously.  The question is whether or not Shelley Smith is ready to improve from his high-potential tag to a full blown NFL star.  He will not be handed the starting keys but will compete.  Albeit against Dallas Thomas, Sam Brenner, and another rookie.  So we will pencil him on the left side for now next to Albert.

The right side of the line as of today consists of Nate Garner and one of the aforementioned competition with Shelley.  While I know it’s not hard to forget despite all of our desire to forget, the Dolphins line was the worst in the league last year.  They gave up 58 sacks on the season produced nothing on the ground worth researching and were the base of the most controversial season in Miami Dolphins history.  And they still are not fixed.

In my opinion a few extra million dollars to a RT wouldn’t have been that much more of a big deal.  It frees up your draft plans.  You can go into the season with a lesser experienced RG if the rest of the pieces are in place.  You can draft BPA and get your football team better.  Instead you have to draft higher than you may want.  In addition there are no guarantees at 19 that you will get the player that you want.  The Dolphins could have done something extraordinary but instead they took a passive aggressive route to filling their holes.  They were careful and didn’t overspend and to show for it still have a lot of cap room left.

The free agent market still has a few names on it.  Eric Winston is still available and so are a few others on the others side of 30  who’s play has declined.  Tyson Clabo is still available and he shouldn’t be ruled out as an option either.  An option for a one year fix while your drafted rookie gets acclimated to the NFL.

This is not to say the Dolphins didn’t do well in free agency.  They did fine.  The re-signing of Randy Starks and Brent Grimes go a long way to securing need positions from within.  The additions of Earl Mitchell and Louis Delmas are solid defensive additions to fill vacated roster spots.  As is Cortland Finnegan who must return to his previous form.  Branden Albert of course was very important and Shelley Smith could become a very good NFL guard.  But there is still a lot of important work to do offensively on that line.  If the Miami Dolphins can’t shore it up on the right side, Ryan Tannehill is going to be laid out on the turf a lot again this year.

The Dolphins should be and could have been done with free agency right now.  The addition of a RT could have ended it and left the team bargain shopping for depth from a player pool deep with aging veterans and not quite reached potential.  While teams like Denver and New England get stronger and teams like the Jets try and get stronger, the Dolphins approach has been tepid.  Have they gotten better in the positions they signed that were not a part of the team last year?  Yes, at those positions.  Have they gotten better as a team?  If they have it’s not a big improvement.  On paper anyways.

There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of time and options to do it with.

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Tags: Branden Albert Dennis Hickey Miami Dolphins NFL Free Agency

  • Christian Paige

    Shelley Smith graded far better on the left side of the line rather then the right. I read an article displaying stats and huge difference. The belief is he is going to bring that run push up the midlle with Pouncey getting to the second level quickly. While being sandwiched between two pro bowlers known for their pass protection will work perfectly in covering up any flaws. I would say the left side is set. Draft a RT in one of the first three rounds and I would say all is going to be okay. Go Phins 2014!!!

  • Miami Jules (Julian)

    Good article and good point to bring up for discussion. I am neither a fan of Salgueiro’s or the opposite. Sometimes he makes sense to me, other times he doesn’t. I personally tend to like Chris Perkins, but again, I always read with open mind and go with my instincts.
    I have more of an issue with the Dolphins spending a few millions of the salary cap, on someone who is a big question mark in the secondary, that I am on the fact we still don’t have a set RT. I view signing players off of free agency as a necessary evil when the needs are such that not doing it would be worse. The Dolphins had such needs, but even then, considering the age of some of these FAs along with their medical history, leaves little doubt, at least in my mind, the these FA’s are nothing more than short term (1-3 years tops). I would’ve loved 2 OT’s off of FA, but it is what it is and when you consider McKinnie is willing to play on the right side, I can’t blame the dynamic duo of Hickey/Philbin for deferring to the draft. Having expressed this, I need to see the Phins go aggressively and early after OL prospects. Not that I don’t want to be patient, but when you consider the potential risks to our QB (like him or hate him), the OL is a squad which has been neglected for far too long, should not have been, and should no longer be. I will settle for either David Yankey in the 1st, or either Antonio Richardson, or Jack Mewhort in the 2nd and just because I am far from satisfied with the secondary other that Grimes, I want to see Jaylen Watkins in the 2nd or a trade down where we would get two 2nd rounders and get one of the afore mentioned Richardson or Mewhort or Calvin Pyor (1st) and Richardson or Mewhort in the 2nd. Whew!

    • Steve

      McKinnie returning and playing on the right side doesn’t sound too bad to me. Sure would be nice to not have to take a tackle at 19 where they’ll likely be on to the 4th or 5th best tackle in the draft. Would also be nice if they would stop missing on 3rd round guards.

      Davin Joseph and Donald Penn really that bad? I see them get released and wonder how TB managed to rush for 150yds a game with unknown 3rd string running backs. Would it be terrible to see both of them on the right side? They wouldn’t have to move that far from home haha.

      • Miami Jules (Julian)

        You are right Steve. The problem with taking a tackle at 19, is that the best prospects are all bunched up and expected to be drafted within the first 15 picks… then you have the second tier of 1st rounder OT/Gs towards the end of the first, leaving the 19th pick to either having to take someone too early, hence my idea of trading down or being forced tot rade up for a top OT. Dane Brugler of NFL scout says that there’s more depth at OG than at OT this year and others say there’s not much difference after the top 4 are gone, between the 30 overall spot and after, in the rankings and you know unless we trade up Lewan for example, is not going to be available BUT, you take a David Yankey who is ranked as the #2 OG in the draft but who can play outside on the left, and has the size for it, and that’s someone we could get at 19 although he’s ranked at 36 (one spot lower than my former pick Cyrus Kuoandjio). We could go secondary with Pryor, since I am for one, not feeling too good about our secondary… lots of “he”ll be alright” but no tangibles yet (I heard the same last year about J. Martin and look what happened)… then we can go after Tiny Richardson the RT or Jack Hewhort who are ranked 7th and 8th (remember last year the surprise was Fluker)… The draft is like playing the lottery.

  • Johnny

    I’ve been saying it… Needed a top G along with the Albert signing … The draft can’t fill 3 spots on the line!!! Smith is a back-up guard who got overpaid since MIA struck out on the top guards… NOW ??? It’s a must Miami draft Zach Martin in the 1st round (if he drops to us)… He can play RT immedietly and move to guard if needed..(and play LT if Albert goes down with another injury).. Can play 3 positions on the line.. Really would have liked to go BPA in 1st, but that’s no longer an option…
    So:: LT Albert LG Brenner C Pouncy RG Smith RT Zach Martin..
    Still an upgrade… But now we HAVE to go OLine early in the draft…
    I like Hickey… But he struck out on the OLine… Yes Albert was a done deal a week before FA, but neglected the other 3 positions… Now it’s a must to draft a 2nd round Tackle in the 1st round…

    • Johnny

      BTW… Strief is officially off the board, he signed with NO as expected..
      I was still hoping we can get him after NO couldn’t afford him… How does NO afford these guys.. No cap, franchising Graham and a huge contract for Byrd??
      Anyway… I was just praying Strief would end up with us.. Best RT in the league and rated 2nd overall Tackle in the NFL… Well.. I guess I was dreaming.. Back to our messed up Line who will give up 50 sacks instead of 58.

      • Johnny

        Other then OLine… I really think DT Earl Mitchell will pay huge dividends.. He will prove to be the biggest steal in FA.. Can’t wait to see him in action in our 4-3 defense where he’ll strive..

        • TheSidelineReport

          What about Delmas? Imagine if he is the Grimes of 2014? One of the biggest issues the D had was that it allowed to many big plays

          • Johnny

            I like that and other moves (Mithchell, Albert, Grimes, Starks) But the lack if OLine support is the problem… Need your QB to be upright.. Need points in the board to win..

  • 1sb1

    A few things…..
    If we can get Clabo back on the cheap, would be good as depth or may make a resurgence.
    If we can get McKinnie to play RT, it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.
    If we can do either or both of these, we can go BPA in draft.
    I’m not averse to picking Zack Martin–bit is he the 5th best OT or the best OG in the draft??
    Then again, does it matter much?
    In a way, to me, it does, b/c there’s just a comfort factor in knowing that you are getting the overall best OG as opposed to the 4th or 5th best OT.
    4 year player, Captain, versatile…not a bad pick, would prob. start and help, may even be a fixture if a OG, but are we better off going “overall” BPA?
    If we can convert McKinnie, or Clabo rises up, can we get by with either Brenner or Garner @RG?
    For some reason I believe in both of them.
    They are hungry, have a point to prove, and play like it.
    Also, I can see the difference between LT and RT, but, really, is there THAT much of a difference between LG and RG??
    Food for thought and comments appreciated.

  • TheSidelineReport

    So what does everyone think as far as the draft? i am thinking Taylor Lewan at 19 will be a nice pick-up. Zack Martin would make for a nice G but i just keep thinking the RT is the most important, especially after already having Albert at LT…opposing defenses will just focus on the right side if the left is strong.

  • Johnny

    Sign Mack to play Center and move Pouncy to RG… That’s like getting a 2 for 1 deal.. Both Pro-Bowl caliber players…

    • TheSidelineReport

      Mack will be expensive and moving Pouncy to RG might work if he improves his footwork, i haven’t seen him play the shift so well. Then again, why not, both are athletic specimens. I still think that RT is far more important right now though as you can get good guards in 2nd and third round. Id hate to use up 2 of the three first picks on O-line but that is the weakest part.

      • Johnny

        I guess… Like Dallas Thomas last year??? IDK… It’s looking more and more like we NEED to draft a RT in the first round .. aka. Zach Martin..

        • TheSidelineReport

          Dallas Thomas was an Ireland pick but point taken. I do agree on RT for sure and if Martin is still there at 19, he is the best available by far. I see more likely Taylor Lewan though as Martin will be picked up early on by other teams. The other option is Cyrus Koundijo not all bad choices but i rate them in that order. 1. Martin, 2. Lewan. 3. Koundijo but martin only because of his guard duties at ND making the o-line more flexible.

          • Johnny

            IDK… They got Lewan way ahead of Martin.. Lewan will go in the top 15.. Martin will go AFTER Lewan.. Just because Lewan is more if a prototypical LT with his 6’7 size frame compared to an undersized Martin at 6’4…

          • TheSidelineReport

            Martin will be more valuable because he also plays guard at least how i mocked the draft.