October 13, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive linesman Cyrus Kouandjio (71) and offensive linesman D.J. Fluker (76) and offensive linesman Chance Warmack (65) talk during the first half at Faurot Field. Alabama won 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins Draft Preview: Offensive Line

There is such a duality with the word offensive when you talk about the Miami Dolphins offensive line.  Last season they truly were.  Offensive that is.  This  year many believe the team has already improved that line with the addition of LT Branden Albert.  Yet questions, big gaping questions, remain on the right side of the line where the Dolphins have almost literally no one to fill the holes.  Unless you believe that competition between second stringers is filling a hole.

As of today, Nate Garner is likely the starting RT while Dallas Thomas will compete at guard with Shelley Smith.  Consider the make-up of the Dolphins offensive line today.  While some players are versatile enough to play both guard and tackle, the team lists only three tackles on their roster.  Shelley Smith, David Arkin, and Nate Garner but Miami today, is likely to use Garner as it’s RT.  Listed at tackle?  Albert of course, Jason Weaver, Jason Fox, and Michael Ola.  Dallas Thomas is listed as a G/T and Sam Brenner as a center despite playing LG the end of last season.  Mike Pouncey of course is in the middle.

You don’t need “names” to have a solid offensive line but this is patch work at it’s worst.  Nate Garner is a very capable lineman but is best utilized in short spurts.  In other words, his durability is a concern and you can’t rely on him for an entire season as a starter.  Dallas Thomas hardly played last season and was jumped over by Sam Brenner who went undrafted.  Brenner showed some very high promise last season but enough to warrant a guaranteed spot starting?  Not quite yet.

This is, in my opinion, where GM Dennis Hickey missed in free agency.  The Dolphins had plenty of money to spend and positioned themselves well to fill needs on both sides of center.  Instead, Hickey ignored for the most part, the right side and that may force his hand in this years draft.  The Dolphins have put themselves in a position that they almost have to draft a lineman in round one and at least another on day two.

In the NFL drafting for need doesn’t work.  You pass on players that will help your team win.  Instead you tend to overdraft players hoping they fill a hole.  This is one of the main reasons the Dolphins have struggled over the years.  Coaching has played a part for sure as has decisions by management but drafting for needs is problematic.  Especially in round one.

I’m not a big proponent of drafting offensive lineman on day one of the draft.  In round one to be more specific.  They don’t touch the ball, don’t score points, and they don’t change the game.  They are vital to the team for sure but it’s far easier, or should be, to find a lineman than say a Pro-Bowl LB, WR, or a franchise QB.  Will Miami use their first pick at number 19 overall to draft an offensive lineman?  It’s likely yes and it’s also likely that they reach on a player as well.

The Dolphins have been linked to names like Zach Martin and Taylor Lewan.  Both of whom could easily be off the board when Miami picks.  They are rumored to be “in love” with Cyrus Kouandjio as well as Joe Bitonio.  Yet both would be reaches at 19.  Perhaps the Dolphins will try and trade back, there are rumors that some of the bottom end teams are looking to move up in the top 20.  Miami may be able to find a willing partner.

The reality is that Miami needs to fill holes on their line and the draft will provide bodies to do just that but drafting a prospect doesn’t fix the immediate question of who will start.  The Dolphins can not afford to rest their season on the shoulders of two rookie lineman shoulder to shoulder on the right side of the line.  It’s because of this reason that if I were Dennis Hickey I would pass on a lineman in round one and maybe even round two if a guy I am not sold on isn’t there.

My first choice would be to draft another position at 19 and then sign a Bryant McKinnie for a two year deal or an Eric Winston from free agency after the draft.  I shore up the right side immediately with a starting caliber tackle and guard and allow my rookie to compete and learn.  This is called developing your players and frankly Miami has not done a very good job of that over the years.  Truth be told, the Dolphins really need to sign a veteran guard and tackle regardless of who they draft at 19.  It’s that reason I pass on a lineman in round one.

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Tags: Cyrus Kouandjio Miami Dolphins NFL Draft

  • tpl

    I hoping Miami trades out of round 1 for more picks. Miami could still address their offensive line problems, but would pick up another pick or two.

  • Miami Jules (Julian)

    I love the job Brenner did in pass protection, but I think his predecessor did a better job in run blocking (basing this on impression not hard numbers or stats… it has that feel though). I love Brenner’s potential as a starter in the future or contribution to the depth chart to competition to the position, but I still want more. I am not “in love” with either Bitonio or Kuoandjio, and much rather have a JaWuan James in the 2nd and a Yankey in the 4th (not necessarily what my mock draft will look like when it comes out tomorrow). Don’t like the idea of a Mckinnie anymore although I once thought it would be need to bring him back for 1 year as a RT. I am not spoiling my own mock draft when I say that a blocking TE in the 3rd or even in the 2nd (contingent to who is selected in the 1st).

  • Johnny

    Really… They missed out on all the good Guards in FA.. Who’s left at RT in FA.. Clabo?? McKinnie??? Eric Winston is the best option and that’s not saying much..

    • Johnny

      And we are obviously drafting our starting RT and probably a starting Guard.. For 4 new players, Free Agents and Rookie to come together and mesh to play at a high level IS ASKING ALOT!!!! We might just give up 50 sacks instead of 58… But you have to start somewhere… They need RT17 to bootleg and roll out a lot to avoid the easy sack… But, at the same time.. WHEN YOUR QB ROLLS OUT YOUR CUTTING THE FIELD IN HALF… But.. It’s better then a 7yd loss sack and possibly losing RT17 for the year…

  • Johnny

    If Lewan (most definetily) and Martin is off the board AND ILB CJ Mosley is off ther board,,, trading back would be the best move… Them maybe get T Moses and have an extra pick in this deep draft.. Hopefully a QB needy team will trade up for Bridgewater or maybe even Manziel… And get an 2nd round pick in exchange..and more, depending how desperate this team is..

    • Johnny

      I wish THIS was the year we had 2 2nds and 2 3rds…

  • Johnny

    Yes.. OLine don’t touch the ball. (Except Center) and don’t score points.. But it is the most important position in NFL Football.. (Except QB ) 1. They protect the QB (who scores points).. 2. They block and open holes for RBs and WRs (screen)… IT ALL STARTS UP FRONT!!! Without a good OLine , you won’t put points on the board.. And you can lose your franchise QB from injury due to a hit on a sack.. Trenches baby!! OLine IS the most important aspect of the entire OFFENSE.. Without it, you can’t pass and can’t run… And if you can’t do either you can’t put points on the board.. Without points on the board, you LOSE!!! Don’t understand your statement.. Yes, it’s nice to have pro bowl LBs and WRs .. But it all starts up front as of WINNING FOOTBALL GAMES.. give credit where it’s due.. The OLine position is more important then you give it..

    • txmedic5

      You are talking to an ex olineman…i know the value but you can find lineman in round 2-3. I would rarely if ever use a first on one.

      • Johnny

        I agree… Depending who’s available.. I would take a “Franchise” LT in the 1st round anyday.. But as for the 4th or 5th best Tackle, No.. I’d rather go BPA (Hopefully ILB CJ Mosley), then grab a RT in the 2nd round… But as for a Mathews or Robinson, I would spend a 1st on those guys… LT only.. RT in the 2nd round… As you know, LT is the most important position in the NFL, as they protect the QBs blindside..

  • DragonFly34

    Im so glad the NFL postponed the draft for two weeks to fall on Mothers Day,,,,is everyone else as bored as I am? I can’t even enjoy a good book or TV show without my brain flashing,,,,19,19,19,19,19,19, who’s going off the board at #19,,,,make it stop,,,make it stop,,,,,,,,,lol,,lol,,lol,,,,

    • txmedic5

      Lmao! Yes