Armed with just 4 draft picks, the Miami Dolphins can still improve its offensive line
You have to give Miami credit – the Dolphins aren’t shy about drafting offensive linemen.
The team has drafted at least one offensive lineman in 21 out of the past 22 drafts. That includes taking at least one tackle in 16 of those years, with six tackles drafted in the first round and two in the second. Miami has also drafted 10 guards and three centers since 2020.
And yet, two of the team’s projected starters are free agent signings – and the offensive line could still be the team’s weak link.
Miami finished last season with the worst offensive line in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. The line gave up a league-leading 235 pressures and had the worst pass-blocking efficiency score.
From PFF: “Miami gambled that their young players would develop this season and the line would improve, but that unquestionably backfired.”
Hence, the free agent additions of left tackle Terron Armstead and left guard Connor Williams.
While those two are undoubtedly an improvement, the two still come with their share of question marks, including:
- Armstead: The three-time Pro Bowl tackle is one of the best in the game when healthy, but he’s never played a full season in his nine-year career. An elbow injury and a knee injury cost Armstead nine games last season. He’ll be 31 by the time the season starts.
- Williams: The soon-to-be 25-year-old was a second-round pick by Dallas in 2018 and has started 51 out of 57 games since entering the league as an offensive tackle out of Texas. But Williams is also prone to picking up penalties – his 14 led the league last year. Most of the flags he drew were not pre-snap penalties, and he has consistently struggled against big, mauling-type of defensive tackles. He was briefly benched last season, too, in favor of Terence Steele, a 2020 undrafted free agent.
Prior to the Tyreek Hill trade, Miami had enough draft assets to look for more offensive linemen.
The Dolphins only have four draft picks, the fewest in the league, and won’t go on the clock until late in the third round at pick No. 102 overall. Miami also has a fourth-round pick (No. 125) and two seventh-rounders (Nos. 225 and 248).
It’s a scenario that probably keeps Dolphins fans awake at night: The big offseason additions will be all-for-naught if the team can’t protect the quarterback or run the ball.
You can make the argument that Miami should just stick with taking the best player available, regardless of position, in the upcoming draft. But the team also must consider adding more pieces to its offensive line – again – in case one of them finally sticks.
A look at Miami’s options:
Round 3: Pick No. 102
This isn’t a great round to draft an offensive tackle with only two ranked between picks 65 to 105.
However, it’s a bit of a sweet spot for interior linemen, as six guards and two centers are ranked in that range. And it’s a versatile group, too; three of the guards were OTs in college; two of the guards can or have played center; and one of the centers is also being looked at as a guard.
Player to watch
Nebraska center Cam Jurgens, a 6-foot-3, 303-pound redshirt junior, is somewhat of a polarizing prospect. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein grades Jurgens as a backup who may eventually push for a starter’s role, while The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranks him as one of the 50 best players in this draft.
Most recently, Jurgens was part of a discussion in The Athletic about players whose rankings are the most volatile. The Athletic’s consensus big board ranks Jurgens at No. 105 overall, almost two rounds lower than Brugler’s ranking of No. 49.
So what does Brugler see that others don’t? He sees a Tyler Linderbaum starter-kit. Linderbaum, a 6-foot-2, 296-pound center from Iowa, is the No. 20 overall prospect and the highest-rated interior lineman in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.
Here’s what Brugler said about Jurgens in the feature (subscription required): “Jurgens is a little bigger (than Linderbaum), his arms are almost two inches longer and I think his discipline issues and overaggressive tendencies are fixable.”
Cam Jurgens (Nebraska IOL 51) looking for work. pic.twitter.com/524NKfeoCV
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) April 15, 2022
Round 4: Pick No. 125
The fourth round may be too late to draft a tackle or a center, as there are only two tackles and no centers ranked between 106 to 143. However, three of the five guards were OTs in college, while one of the two tackles is also projected as a guard.
Player to watch
Massive Minnesota tackle Daniel Faalele has seen his draft stock fluctuate since the moment the 2021 draft ended.
The reason? No one quite knows what to make of his size. At 6-foot-8, 384-pounds, Faalele was the heaviest player to ever participate in the Combine – by 15 pounds. His other Combine measurements were just as shocking, with 11-inch hands, an arm length of 35 1/8-inches and a wingspan of 85 1/8-inches.
So there’s no way he lasts to the fourth round, right? After all, many reputable draft analysts don’t think Faalele will get out of the third round. PFF, though, ranked him No. 157 in its latest big board, while the Fanspeak-Rigdon big board ranks him No. 130.
Blame it on his size. Can he handle faster pass rushers? Can he maintain his weight?
Either way, if Faalele is still available, expect Miami to show interest.
This is likely (*hopefully*) the closest you’ll get to what 6’8” and 387 pounds feels like coming off the ball. Any report on @GopherFootball OL Daniel Faalele must include the words “engulfs” and “mauler”.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/JqBySJgec2
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 25, 2022
Round 7: Pick Nos. 225, 248
At this point, teams are just looking for traits and hope to find players who can at least make the practice squad.
In other words, Miami probably won’t find a future starting lineman this late in the draft.
Take this past Pro Bowl as an example. Of the 23 players named to last season’s Pro Bowl team, only four were drafted on Day 3 – and most of those players (three) are centers.
There are two tackles, two guards and two centers who are ranked between Nos. 223 to 263.
Player to watch
Big TCU tackle Obinna Eze is ranked as a priority free agent at No. 289 overall in the Rigdon big board, but he has the size and versatility to possibly stick with a team. The 6-foot-6, 321-pound redshirt senior played four seasons at Memphis before transferring to TCU and is seen as a potential guard prospect or swing tackle at the next level.
I really like Obinna Eze (TCU) as a mid/late round tackle. Went to HS at Davidson Academy in Nashville.
Consensus Rank: 153
– Great mobility for his size
– Quick hands, diverse set of counters
– Fluid hips to flush out speed rushes w/o leaning
– Doesn't panic pic.twitter.com/z3HvO89F0E
— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) February 21, 2022
Will Miami take an offensive lineman with one of its four draft picks? Find out in Fanspeak’s latest Dolphins mock draft.
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