Players are not one-size-fits-all. Every year during the draft, a term comes up when talking about offensive line players that make my skin crawl; “position flexibility.” In any career, being well-rounded is a positive, but mastering a single position is essential to being a pro-bowl-level player on the offensive line. The Miami Dolphins during draft time have also touted position flexibility as a positive when talking about drafted players.
When proven talents at a single offensive line position switches teams, they rarely change position. Jason Kelce, if moved on from Philly, would not be asked to move to guard. Brandon Linder, originally a guard, wouldn’t be asked to go back after he played at such a high level at the center position. Once a tackle proves themselves capable of protecting a quarterback’s blindside, teams wouldn’t then move them to guard.
I am a firm believer in putting players where they excel. Each position along the line requires different muscles and techniques. Kicking out in pass protection as an offensive tackle is a different set of skills due to the leg kicking with and hand placement being unique. Guard positions are more similar as they primarily anchor or push men along the field straight ahead of them. Still, when creating gaps for backs to go through, it takes different legs to drive defensive lineman along the line of scrimmage to create a seal.
These points were all proven this past week when the Miami Dolphins took on one of the best front sevens ever to play the game of football. The Tampa Bay front seven has All-Pro and Pro-Bowl talent at almost every position. Yet the Miami Dolphins Offensive Line played their best game of the 2021 NFL season.
Against the best edge-rushing pair in the league, Rookie tackle Liam Eichenberg and team captain Jesse Davis had their best game of the season per PFF. Liam Eichenberg had the highest offensive grade on the Miami Dolphins at 76.0 overall. Jesse Davis is 7th highest among the visiting Miami Dolphins of 68.5 overall.
Placing promising rookie Eichenberg at his natural left tackle position allowed the Miami coaching staff to move the 2020 1st round selection, Austin Jackson, to the left guard. His move allowed his strong run blocking to lead the way in his reclamation at guard. Jackson graded out at 10th best on the Miami Dolphins offense with a 65.5 overall grade per PFF.
The only Miami offensive lineman to grade out lower than 65 was 2nd-year player Robert Hunt who is still getting used to his guard position after playing well at right tackle during the 2020 NFL season. His 61.1 grade did leave room for improvement as the Miami coaching staff tries to get this team ready to play in London this Sunday morning.