Quite a familiar sight for Dolphins fans, really since Tannehill has been the QB. I know some of you think it’s all Tannehill’s fault, and that’s fine, but I for one don’t believe that to be the case. Too much pressure, too often and no containment. Seems like almost every drop back, someone loses containment on their man, and over the last 2 seasons, there really were good reasons for that. Injuries depleted our O-line and the depth we had wasn’t up to the task. Whether it was Brandon Albert injured, or Ja’Wuan James, or Mike Pouncey, it’s been rare to have those 3 former 1st RD picks on the field together. One good nugget of info uncovered by the infamous Omar Kelly is this. When those 3 have been healthy and on the field together, Ryan Tannehill, and the Dolphins are 6-1. Some will scoff at this small sample, and that’s fine too, people will always see what they want, and contrarily ignore what they don’t. I think it’s unfortunate that we have such a small sample, and if you think about it, this doesn’t even address the shoddy OG play. Imagine if we had better OG’s than Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner or Jamil Douglas. It could happen as early as this season, because the NFL draft is only about 2 weeks away!
First, let’s take a look at we currently have on the roster. At LT, Brandon Albert is the starter, and OT’s Jermon Bushrod (Bears) and Sam Young (Jaguars) were brought in as depth for both tackle positions, as both of the aforementioned players have played both. At C we have Mike Pouncey, and backing him up is OG/C Jamil Douglas, and Jacques McClendon. At OG, last years starters were a mix of LG Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas, and RG Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas. At RT, I’m assuming a healthy Ja’Wuan James will return as the starter at RT, now that his dislocated toe injury appears to have healed. Jason Fox is thankfully no longer on the roster, but my lord, is it about time we shore up the depth at OT or what? Why every year do we get a turnstile at RT like Marc Colombo or Jason Fox? Ya think maybe it’s time we invested in some quality depth on the O-line?
The 2016 NFL Draft leaves us with plenty of options, so let’s take a look at some of the players that might help us this season and beyond. I’m going to put them ALL on the table, because you never know if we want to trade up, although it’s unlikely.
Laremy Tunsil is the premier offensive tackle in this draft, and will most likely go top 5, if not #1 to the Tennessee Titans. With Branden Albert on our roster, unless they have discussed with Albert moving inside, which Albert has played before to OG, the Dolphins drafting Tunsil is even more unlikely. He is the best prospect though, actually the highest rated prospect by NFL period, but a Dolphin he will not be.
Ronnie Stanley is the next highest rated LT prospect. Still a slim chance that he falls all the way to #13 but he is in range to be taken somewhere in the top 10, or slightly beyond. That puts him in striking range for a reasonable trade up should we want him. Again, unlikely we trade up for an OT, but it’s possible. Stanley would also not be a candidate to move inside and is really a pure LT.
Jack Conklin is definitely a realistic possibility at #13. The Michigan St. LT is a real throwback player, spitting nails and exhibiting toughness. One of my favorite quotes of this whole draft was an NFC North scout, who said about Conklin “He’s tougher than old beef jerky”. Whether the scouts or prognosticators are right, some feel Conklin might struggle with NFL speed rushers, and may have to either move to RT, or even possibly inside. Conklin is a real scrapper, which makes me think he’d fit inside the trenches at OG just fine, and could of course give us depth at OT as well. Yes, quality depth my friends, the luxury we haven’t had for too long!
Cody Whitehair has played LT, RT and LG for Kansas St. so he certainly has some versatility. Most scouts feel he will be an OG in the NFL, so in the 2nd RD, he could be a target for us. He would be another player that gives us some depth as either an OG or OT, but could give us an upgrade at OG from what we currently have.
Le’Raven Clark is another 2nd RD possibility for the Dolphins. Clark has the longest arms in this draft at 36 1/8″ long. Clark has good foot speed, but likely needs to add more muscle and get stronger in the NFL (As many prospects do). He could be a guy to groom to replace Branden Albert, and be our LT for a decade, so Clark could definitely be a target of ours, if we think he could be what I said. NFC scouts said they think he’s going to be a top 5 LT in the NFL. Sounds good to me!
Germain Ifedi looks like an NFL ready starter right now. Ifedi has power, and also has very long arms (36″). Germain played both OG and RT at Texas A&M. Oddly enough though, his NFL comparison is our own Billy Turner. He is a bit of a project though, like Turner, so although he would be thrown into the mix, the 3 year player may not be ready for us right now, but could could be a very good player in time.
Garnett looks to be a pro ready NFL OG. Very thickly built lower body ideal for working in the trenches, he also has very good upper body strength. A Stanford OL, again??? I think Garnett will be fine, although I also thought Jon Martin would be fine, so if you want to stop reading the rest of this, I understand. NFL comparison is Gabe Jackson, who is doing just fine in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders, and a player both D and I wanted for our Dolphins. I could see Garnett winning a starting OG spot this season.
Westerman is a a very athletic OG, with lots of pop. Weight room warrior who never stops. Scouts say some of his actual strength doesn’t always show up on the field, but I would think learning technique from the right coaches would help that. Westerman is a true OG prospect, and should be taken somewhere between the RD 2-4. His NFL comparison is Alex Mack, and who wouldn’t want Alex mack on our O-line right now?
There are plenty more prospects out there, and I will leave that for you all to discuss and bring up on the blog!