Dolphins Draft Preview: Offensive Line
Here is the fourth installment of my positional draft preview.
The players that I am discussing are those that the Dolphins have worked out, interviewed, or had other such contact with.
Today I will be looking at offensive lineman. Currently Miami has three sure starters in Vernon Carey, Samson Satele, and Justin Smiley. However, there are gigantic holes at left guard and right tackle (or left tackle depending on where Carey ends up). The quality of the depth is sorely lacking as well. Suffice to say, Miami will be picking some offensive linemen in this draft.
I will organize the prospects into tiers, as such:
- First tier: First-round talent
- Second tier: Second or third-round talent
- Third tier: Mid-round (4-5) talent
- Fourth tier: Late round (6-7) or FA talent
FIRST TIER PROSPECTS
1. T Jake Long, Michigan
- Pros: huge size (6'7", 313 lbs.), always finishes blocks, dominant run-blocker, has experience in both zone and man blocking schemes, smart, strong and powerful, experience at both right and left tackle, lots of experience, fantastic work ethic
- Cons: lacks quickness, pass blocking skills are not at the level of his run blocking skills, may be better suited at right tackle than left, will allow some inside penetration
- Compares to: Jamaal Brown
Jake Long will potentially be the number one overall selection, and if that's the way Miami decides to go, I'll be in full support (though I wouldn't mind Chris Long either). Long isn't suited for a zone blocking scheme, but the Dolphins don't need to worry about that since they don't utilize one. There's also some concern that Long won't be a great left tackle. While that is a bit troubling, Miami already has Carey who played pretty well at left tackle this past season and could continue to do so if Long could not pass him in training camp. Either way, Miami's tackles would immediately become one of the best duos in the league. Long has all the character intangibles that you look for, and he'd make an excellent foundation for this rebuilding team.
2. T Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
- Pros: huge size (6'7", 315 lbs.), long arms, dominant run blocker, agile, lots of experience, strong and powerful
- Cons: struggles with speed rushers, probably not a left tackle, minor character concerns, too many penalties
- Compares to: Cornell Green
If Cherilus somehow makes it to pick 32 and Miami doesn't take Jake Long, Cherilus would be an excellent choice. He can immediately man the right tackle position and be a dominant force in the running game. I doubt he drops that far though.
SECOND TIER PROSPECTS
1. T Carl Nicks, Nebraska
- Pros: massive size (6'5", 341 lbs.), has played both left and right tackle, very athletic and quick, aggressive and strong, mauling run blocker, good at getting to the second level, high upside
- Cons: only started about one season, technique is often sorely lacking, questionable intensity, will need time to develop
- Compares to: Flozell Adams
Due to his lack of experience, Nicks will need some time to be developed, but even with his raw technique he was able to both excel as a run blocker and handle speed rushers. He could probably start at right tackle immediately, although there would be a definite learning curve. If he's there in the second round, Miami must consider him.
2. T Oniel Cousins, UTEP
- Pros: very athletic, quick and agile, good range, can probably play guard as well as tackle
- Cons: average size, average strength, sloppy technique, doesn't get good push
Oniel Cousins is a definite project. He doesn't have all that much experience, but his upside has led to his draft stock rising into the second tier of tackles. He's a risky pick that could pan out as a solid starter, but I think that Miami has safer, more reliable options at tackle in this range than Cousins.
THIRD TIER PROSPECTS
1. T Daune Brown, Virginia Tech
- Pros: has played both left and right tackle, long arms, very athletic, moves well, effective at reaching the second level, above average in pass protection
- Cons: not very physical, technique needs work, doesn't get a good push when run blocking
- Compares to: Brandon Frye
Brown is a much better fit in a zone blocking scheme. He doesn't really fit in with Miami's philosophies.
2. G John Greco, Toledo
- Pros: good size, good technician, strong and powerful, excels as a run blocker, smart, excellent intangibles
- Cons: short arms, not real athletic, struggles in space against pass rushers, limited upside
- Compares to: Nick Kaczur
Honestly, I'd rather have Shawn Murphy (see below) than Greco, simply because Murphy has more upside. Greco may only be backup material in the NFL and while that's certainly worth a late round pick, I wouldn't want Miami spending its fourth rounder on Greco. That's too high for him to go in my estimation.
FOURTH TIER PROSPECTS
1. G Shawn Murphy, Utah State
- Pros: good size and strength, has played both left tackle and left guard, solid work ethic, gets a good push in the run game
- Cons: doesn't have long arms, lacks explosiveness, very raw technique, not a lot of experience, older than most prospects (Mormon mission)
- Compares to: Justin Smiley
Even though Murphy has played tackle in college, he's not going to make it there in the NFL. However, he could challenge for Miami's open left guard position. He relies a little too much on finesse rather than physicality and is a very raw prospect in general. But his potential makes spending a sixth or seventh round pick on him very attractive.
2. G Andrew Bain, Miami (FL)
3. G Derrick Morse, Miami (FL)
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