Offensive Line Remains Biggest Question Mark for Miami Dolphins' Season

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IApril 6, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 30:  Center Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins prepares to snap the football to quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are an interesting team right now. They have an almost 100 percent different roster from just two seasons ago, built up mostly of young players and recent free-agent acquisitions, so naturally there are a few question marks for this season. 

Featured Columnist Alan Hubbard tabbed the Dolphins' backfield as their biggest question mark and wrote a nice piece highlighting each of Miami's current running backs. 

While I respect Alan's opinion and see many of his points as valid, I do not believe that the running backs are the biggest question mark on the Dolphins, or even one of the top two question marks on the offense.

Ryan Tannehill and his development as a second-year quarterback is the second-biggest question mark. The Dolphins are a passing team now, and the quarterback remains the most important position on the field.

But the biggest question mark is easily the offensive line.

Luckily they have Mike Pouncey, one of the best centers in football. Without him, I think this group (whoever the starters may be) would fall apart. After Pouncey, things get iffy. Starting on the inside, there are four players who could conceivably win the two starting guard positions. 

New free-agent signing Lance Louis is the best fit for the Dolphins zone-blocking scheme. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in late November and may not be 100 percent when camp rolls around.

John Jerry and Richie Incognito are the incumbent starters, but neither of them is particularly well-suited for the quicker, finesse style of the zone-blocking scheme.

Jerry has struggled with his weight in the past, and Joe Philbin put him officially on notice this past offseason, saying that they'll have to evaluate him closely this summer.

Incognito is also more of a power lineman, and people are putting too much stock into him being named a replacement for the Pro Bowl this past winter.

Finally, third-round pick Dallas Thomas could be an intriguing option at either the left or right guard spot. He was a left tackle up until his senior year at Tennessee, when he got moved inside. I think Thomas could end up supplanting Jerry if he has a good camp, but starting a rookie there is a question mark in and of itself. 

Then we move outside to the tackle positions, and things do not get much better.

Adding free agent Tyson Clabo was a smart move by Jeff Ireland. He's a talented veteran right tackle, although there remains the question about him adapting to the faster pace of a zone-blocking scheme.

Over on the left side, the Dolphins are going all-in on Jonathan Martin, which makes a lot of fans nervous. He struggled there as a rookie after being moved from the right side when Jake Long went down for the season. 

Martin himself is the biggest question mark on a line full of them. As he goes, so will this offense. 

In Philbin and Mike Sherman's up-tempo, pass-heavy offense, the offensive line plays a huge role. With so many questions about the players there going into training camp, it's obvious that they will play an enormous part in Miami's success this season.