2011 NFL Draft: Power Ranking the 8 Best OL Prospects for the Miami Dolphins
Yes, the Dolphins RBs were older and slowe,r which hurt the running game.
Yes, Chad Henne made poor decisions and did not play well.
However, a good offensive line can make both of those things improve. Look no further than the defending Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers. They had major OL issues, addressed them and it took them to the ultimate level.
Here is a look at eight offensive linemen who could help the Dolphins elevate their OL-play next season.
8. OG Carl Johnson, Florida
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Sixth or seventh round.
Johnson is a massive human being at 6'5" and 359 lbs. He has the physical traits to be a quality NFL OL.
He is versatile as well. He played tackle, guard and center at Florida. He probably could never play tackle in the NFL but having experience at both guard and center is a plus.
He has a mean streak and can be vicious in the run-blocking game. He utilizes his long arms and size to get a good initial push and overwhelm defenders.
Johnson is really slow. He struggles in pass protection and could not be used in pulling situations. Faster defenders can make him look silly.
The NFL game is a quick one and usually even the most talented OL cannot keep up, so a slow Carl Johnson has his work cut out for him. However, in the sixth or seventh round he would be well worth the risks because his rewards could be huge, especially in the running game.
7. OT Chris Hairston, Clemson
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Hairston is big and very strong. He is 6'6" and 326 lbs and put up 33 bench reps at the NFL combine. The 33 reps tied for second among all OL.
His footwork is very good as well. Hairston's lateral movement is very good for a man of his size. His handwork is also solid for the tackle position.
He also has the experience factor working in his favor as he started for three years at left tackle for the Tigers.
Hairston may be big, but needs some work in distributing his weight in the right areas.
As you can see in his picture, he bends at the waist a lot. Therefore, his technique needs some serious work. Tackles should be bending more in the knees and not the waist.
Even as a fifth-round pick, Hairston is a pretty big risk. If the Dolphins are looking to replace RT Vernon Carey, then I think Hairston could fit in as a RT. Usually, tackles with Hairston's weaknesses can manage to hold down a RT position. His overall strength is very appealing and is something the Dolphins could definitely use on the OL.
6. OG Justin Boren, Ohio State
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Does not do any one thing well but is an overall solid OL.
He has good explosion off the line and is praised as a very intelligent OL. The Dolphins have looked for years at just big and strong OL. It would be good to finally bring in some smart offensive linemen who also have good talent.
Boren also plays with a mean streak.
Boren has a hard time sustaining blocks and getting off blocks to get to the next level.
He is a little undersized for a guard at 6'3" and he also ran one of the slowest 40 times (5.40) among guards.
Boren is an experienced guard who was an All-Big Ten talent. Some say his decision to transfer from Michigan to Ohio State was a character issue. However, I would not read too much into that.
Teams will be more worried about his lack of speed. A 6'3" guard is usually a good candidate for pulling plays, however, Boren is one of the slowest guards in the draft. That will turn teams away more than his transfer decision. If the Dolphins think they would be able to fix his speed issue then he could be a great pick in the fourth round.
5. C Kristofer O'Dowd, Southern California
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He is the perfect size for a NFL center but also athletic enough to move to guard if needed.
O'Dowd is an extremely tough guy. He only missed one game during his 2009 campaign despite dislocating his knee during spring practice.
He gets good leverage on bigger DTs and has a good ability of getting to the second level.
Injuries defined O'Dowd's career at USC despite being the first freshman to ever start at center for the Trojans. He dislocated his knee twice and tore a labrum during his career.
He struggles at times with very strong DTs.
O'Dowd has big-time talent (he was impressive at the Senior Bowl against NFL-caliber size in Baylor's DT Phil Taylor), but his durability is a major issue. If the Dolphins are unable to acquire a second-round pick, then their third-round pick is even more valuable. The Dolphins cannot risk such a valuable pick on a guy who may never be able to stay healthy.
4. C Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State
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Wisniewski is a high-character guy—the type the Dolphins would love to have anchoring the line. He is very intelligent, which is important for a center.
He comes from an NFL bloodline, as his father and uncle both played in the NFL. His uncle, Steve, was an eight-time All-Pro for the Raiders in the 1990s.
Excellent in pulling situations because of his quickness.
He is also very durable, as he never had any major injury issues during his time at Penn State.
While Wisniewski has good technique, he lacks a bit in brute strength. He could struggle in the NFL with some of the bigger and stronger DTs like Baltimore Ravens' Haloti Ngata.
He is good at latching onto defenders but struggles to actually move defenders and create holes for his RBs.
There are not many high-quality true centers in this year's draft. In my opinion, Wisniewski is probably the best true center in the draft. Many are projecting Wisniewski to be a third-round pick, however, I am not so sure he is going to make it there.
He may not fall into the range for the Dolphins to pick him. If the Dolphins do get Wisniewski, I do not think there would be many fans complaining.
3. OT Nate Solder, Colorado
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Solder is 6'8" with an 81" wingspan, so it is very difficult to get around him.
He is probably the most athletic OT in this year's draft (he started out as a TE when he first got to Colorado). His athleticism gives him excellent feet and quickness, making him ideal in running screen plays and getting out into space to take on defenders.
He was awarded several times by his coaches as the hardest worker on the team.
Since he was not an OT to start his career, he still has a lot to learn about the tackle position.
Solder has a slender frame and does not possess a lot of strength.
He can get exposed by small, quick defensive ends.
Solder may be slender but many scouts say he could eventually put on 15-20 pounds of muscle. For the Dolphins, if they think Solder can play RT (he has only played LT), then he would be worth the pick.
Obviously, the Dolphins are set at LT with Jake Long but do have concerns with Vernon Carey at RT. Even if Solder sat behind Carey for a year, it would probably be for the best to allow Solder to get stronger and adjust to the RT position.
2. OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
Has good quickness off the snap and is excellent in cut-blocking situations. His quickness off the snap allows him to get on defenders in a hurry and make up for some lack in strength.
He has versatility, as he has started at both right and left tackle.
Castonzo has the intangibles as a smart (was a straight-A biochemistry major and scored a 41 on the Wonderlic) and tireless worker. He was not recruited out of high school, but went to Fork Union Military Academy to get bigger and work on his game. He improved and was starting at BC the next year.
He lacks size and strength. He also loses his balance from time to time.
There are concerns he will lose leverage as a LT and that he lacks the strength to hold up at RT.
While Castonzo has some issues, I think he will put on extra muscle and be a good RT at the NFL level. The Dolphins have the ability to wait on him for a bit if they need to.
1. OG Mike Pouncey, Florida
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He has great versatility, playing defensive tackle as a freshman, then moving to right guard as a sophomore and junior, then to center as a senior.
Pouncey is very quick off the snap and utilizes his strong hands and long arms to push defenders off the line.
He excelled in pulling situations at Florida. The Dolphins guards (John Jerry and Richie Incognito) were very poor last season in pulling situations, so this is a high-need area.
He has good weight distribution, which gives him great balance.
At the center position, he struggled with his snaps and getting his hands up to pass-protect.
Pouncey can be inconsistent in his downfield blocking and his effort level.
Pouncey should be the Dolphins' first-round pick. I said it back in January and I stand by my choice. Pouncey probably would not cut it as a center but would make an excellent guard. The Dolphins have needed an athletic guard for a long time.
The Bill Parcells motto was always to just get the big and strong guards (Donald Thomas, John Jerry, Richie Incognito), who were not really the most athletic guys in the world. Pouncey is athletic but also has good size at 6'5" and 303 lbs.