This Offseason, Let It Rain Quality Offensive Linemen
The Offensive Line has needs at Guard, Center, and Tackle
Now that Miami’s season is over, the Dolphins Front Office is all alone in the spotlight.
It’s time for Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier to make their money…
…and given the scrutiny they’re under, they’d better nail this.
In the last two seasons under Coach Adam Gase, the Fins haven’t been huge spenders in free agency, unlike the days of Joe Philbin.
Most price per head bookie services are betting this trend continues.
…that doesn’t mean that the Dolphins will–or should–just sit on the sidelines in Free Agency.
Miami doesn’t believe in spending a lot of money on Guards, but aside from Jesse Davis (who was actually signed as a Tackle), this strategy hasn’t been a winner.
The fact is Offensive line has been an Achilles heel of the Fins for the past decade–despite using everything from 1st round picks to high-priced pick-ups to fix the situation, little has worked out.
Yes, the best teams rarely use blue chips at Guard, but Miami seems to have a serious blind-spot at evaluating line talent–especially the interior. The last good interior acquisition was Richie Incognito…
…and Miami found a way to screw that up.
Miami has some pieces on the Offensive Line, but not enough
Many experts are already predicting Miami willl use their first round pick, which is the 11th overall selection, on you guessed it… 6’5” and 325 pounds Guard Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame.
Many general managers around the league feel he’s the best Guard available in the draft and has the potential to be an elite Guard in the NFL.
There’s a fair chance that Nelson will be on the board when Miami is on the clock with the 11th pick.
However, do they want to be forced to use another first round pick on an Offensive lineman?
Initial evaluation by Phinsnews projects Nelson as a better Right Guard… at least early on.
In the video below you see that Nelson excels at Drive Blocking. His pass protection takes a backseat to his run blocking. Nelson leans a bit too much, lacks some agility and foot speed, and struggles at times with balance after getting popped. He won’t be able to rely solely on strength in the NFL to protect his QB… especially at Left Guard, where he will be expected to block without help.
Nelson does have excellent vision and swaps and passes defenders well, so it’s not to say he won’t make it as a Left Guard. In many ways he’s reminiscent of Incognito… who is a top 5 LG. But he’ll cost Miami it’s first pick and might not necessarily fill the crucial need to a pass-blocking Left Guard in his first season.
Nelson could propel Drake to elite status & Price would fill two roles for the Dolphins
Billy Price has grabbed the attention of Phinsnews as possibly a better and cheaper fit.
Price could likely be had in the 2nd Round. His understanding of scheme from playing Center and his pass protection skillset is backed by an athletic and powerful build… although he isn’t the monster Nelson is.
But given Miami’s weakness at LG AND C, Price could play Left Guard this season and transition to Center next year… if Mike Pouncey is retained. And of course with Pouncey’s history of injury, Price could also step in and fill the void if need be.
For those who aren’t aware of Price, here’s a good introduction:
Miami needs at least two quality pieces to get this Offensive Line right
I’d have zero problem with the Dolphins selecting Nelson, however, Miami has often said they aim to pick the best player available, instead of their biggest need, when it’s their turn to select.
More often than not this is a wise strategy… although, it’s not always the case.
Considering Miami needs more than just a Guard, it may be wise for Miami to use free agency first to find a starting Guard, Center, or Tacke–even if they Draft Nelson and / or Price.
Heck, if they did pick up a quality Left Guard in FA and drafted Nelson, they could move Davis out to his natural position at Right Tackle.
Imagine a run game backed by the elite power of Nelson and Davis?!
I wouldn’t mind that…
…and throw in Price in the 2nd.
Ahh, wouldn’t that be sweat potatoes, even if it’s overkill!
This of course will never happen, but Phinsnews loves the heck out of the ‘big uglies’, so we will dream the impossible dream–for a little while.
Until the official Free Agent list is announced, we don’t know who will be available. Also, given the over-inflated price of Guards, we also don’t know if a high-priced pick-up is fiscally responsible. But there will certainly be quality linemen who can help this Offensive Line unit, even if it that player is lurking around after the first rush of big buys… or in the bargain bin. But does this brain trust have the brains to see the need and find the right ones? Go Fins!!!