The Miami Dolphins have totally revamped their offensive line this offseason and many media types and fans believe the changes are for the better. I wholeheartedly agree with this, but I will warn you this offensive line is a bit of a house of cards and there are still some flaws with this unit where the loss of just one person could put Miami right back into the offensive line mess they have been in recent years. Offensive line is still an area of need heading into the 2018 NFL Draft.
Let’s start at the center position where Mike Pouncey is gone, and Daniel Kilgore is the new face to man the middle. Many coaches and NFL insiders believe Mike Pouncey when he is healthy still is one of the very best centers in the NFL today. The issue is he is rarely healthy and the decline in his play has shown more on the field in recent years. Pouncey couldn’t practice with the team like a regular player and he couldn’t gel with his surrounding guards during training camp and most game weeks as well. This isn’t conducive to having a solid offensive line who can grow together and gel together over time.
Daniel Kilgore will never be mistaken with one of the all time great centers or even one of the better centers of this era, but Kilgore is a solid and steady performer who will show up each week and give you a workman like effort. There are no injury concerns with Kilgore, he doesn’t have to be handled with care or wrapped in bubble wrap on non-game days. In San Francisco Kilgore did what he needed to do and was good, not great... but good. Mike Pouncey hasn’t been great in many years, so I don’t see a drop off at all with the level of play and the upside here is Kilgore is cheaper and costs less on the salary cap and will be out there each day working with his teammates.
The guard position has long been the weak link not only on Miami’s offensive line but the entire roster. No longer can that be said as the Dolphins have brought in a high level pro bowl player in Josh Sitton to man the left guard position. Sitton will be 32 when the season starts but he is a 4-time pro bowl player and was once named All Pro in this league. He is the best guard the Dolphins have had on their offensive line probably in 15 years.
At the other guard position Miami will have an open competition between Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis. Larsen missed most of 2017 and after the season he stated he was uncomfortable playing on the left side and wanted to move back to the right side of the offensive line this upcoming year. Jesse Davis had a very up and down 2017 season but did show enough promise that he will be given the right to fight for the starting right guard job. I am sure both gentlemen will see time with the first unit in training camp and whoever performers better will win that job.
The tackle position seems locked up as of this time. Laremy Tunsil goes into his 2nd full season as the full time left tackle. Tunsil was ok at best last year but I think having someone like Sitton next to him will only help improve his consistency and level of play. Ja’Wuan James is essentially in the last year of his contract and playing for a big-money deal next offseason. James missed most of last year with an injury and when he was on the field he, like many of the other Dolphins offensive linemen, was ok at best. The thing to remember with James is that there was talk Miami was shopping him just a month ago via trade. And on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network this past week they said they wouldn’t be shocked if James could be used as trade bait in the upcoming draft. With teams with lackluster offensive lines like Denver and Indianapolis, picking 5th and 6th respectfully, could Miami package James with some picks to move up into the top part of the draft? Nothing would shock me!
I know on paper many feel the Dolphins offensive line is the best as it has been in years right now. The key term there is “on paper.” If Josh Sitton were to go down and be injured the Dolphins guard position would go back to be the same dumpster fire it has been in recent years. If the Dolphins did move Ja’Wuan James in a draft day trade, then right tackle then becomes a glaring need for the Fins. Yes, Jesse Davis did play some right tackle last year, but he is not the type of player you can pencil in as a starter and just hand a job.
The depth on the Dolphins offensive is ok and just ok. Jake Brendel is an ok back-up center. He can hold the fort down for a couple weeks if need be but not for an extended period that is for sure. Sam Young last training camp looked beyond awful and like the NFL game had passed him by. When forced into action later in the regular season he did an ok job for a couple weeks. Again, Young is the type of guy you can play for a week or two in a pinch but not someone you can count on for multiple weeks if he is forced to play. Isaac Asiata was a rookie last year and couldn’t even sniff the field with this poor offensive line and not much is expected of him heading into 2018. Eric Smith showed flashes in the preseason, but he might just be a camp body at this point.
The point is the Dolphins have done a lot on paper to stabilize the offensive line and not have it be a complete mess like it was last season and in many previous seasons. Although more work needs to be done. Sitton is 32, James may be gone after this year or during the draft and the depth the Dolphins have right now with this unit is just so-so.
If you don’t think offensive line is still a need in this upcoming draft, you are sorely mistaken. The Dolphins need better depth and possibly someone who can come in and push for a starting job right away when all is said and done.
The offensive line is a bit of a house of cards, it looks good right now but one injury or one player being moved and it is right back to being the total mess it has been in recent times.