Dolphins Position Preview: Offensive Line
With the start of training camp on the horizon, let's break down the offensive line by examining the 2019 performance, the offseason changes on the roster and what to expect this summer.
PLAYERS AT POSITION ON THE ROSTER: C Ted Karras, C Donell Stanley, C/G Keaton Sutherland, G Shaq Calhoun, G Michael Deiter, G Danny Isidora, G Solomon Kindley, G/T Jesse Davis, OL Ereck Flowers, T Julién Davenport, T Jonathan Hubbard, T Robert Hunt, T Austin Jackson, T Nick Kaltmayer, T Adam Pankey
2020 TRANSACTIONS: Declined to pick up the option on the contract of C Daniel Kilgore (March 13) ... Waived T Chidi Okeke and C/G Evan Brown (March 18) ... G/T Evan Boehm and T J'Marcus Webb became unrestricted free agents (March 18) ... Signed G Ereck Flowers as an unrestricted free agent from Washington (March 20) ... Signed C Ted Karras as an unrestricted free agent from New England (March 20) ... Selected T Austin Jackson in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft (April 23) ... Selected T Robert Hunt in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft (April 24) ... Selected G Solomon Kindley in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft (April 25) ... Signed C Donell Stanley, T Nick Kaltmayer and T Jonathan Hubbard as undrafted rookie free agents (April 29)
KEY 2019 STATS: Rushing average 3.3 yards per carry (31st in NFL); sack percentage per pass attempt 9.43% (29th in NFL)
2019 RECAP: There's really no way to sugarcoat this. The Dolphins offensive line was brutal for most of the 2019 season. Of course, it didn't help that the Dolphins traded their best lineman, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a week before the start of the regular season, though it's a trade that had a lot of merit. The Dolphins also had to replace their right tackle after the Denver Broncos threw a lot of money at Ja'Wuan James in free agency. But what the Dolphins failed to do is replace those players with proven commodities and what we saw was a parade of linemen in and out of the lineup. The most steady of the bunch was Jesse Davis, who after playing every game at right guard in 2018 started the first three games at left tackle in place of Tunsil before going back to right tackle, the position he had played throughout training camp. The Dolphins did try to bring in a couple of veterans before the start of the regular season, but Danny Isidora landed on IR after starting the first three games and guard/center Evan Boehm was in and out of the starting lineup. Tackle Julién Davenport, who came over in the Tunsil trade, started eight games around a trip on IR, but didn't really provide much of an answer. Rookie third-round pick Michael Deiter started 15 games at left guard, but had his ups and downs, and Shaq Calhoun also got some starts at guard as a rookie free agent.
THE TOP SUMMER STORYLINE: Wow, are the storylines here or are there storylines here? Where to start? You probably can start with where second-round pick Robert Hunt will line up because he played right tackle at Louisiana-Lafayette but most scouts think he'll be a better guard in the NFL. Then there's first-round pick Austin Jackson, who will be worth watching through his first NFL camp. And then there'll be the battle for the starting right guard job, regardless of whether it involves Hunt or Davis going back to his old spot and the other contenders such as Isidora, Deiter and/or Calhoun. And then there's the center position, where Ted Karras is the presumed center but maybe faces a challenge from Deiter, who did start some games at center for Wisconsin.
PROJECTED OPENING-DAY STARTERS: Of all the positions on the Dolphins roster, this might be the toughest to predict when it comes to an opening-day lineup. At this time, the only spot that appears pretty obvious is left guard, where free agent pick-up Ereck Flowers will be starting. The best guess for the rest of the line at this time would be Austin Jackson at left tackle, Karras at center, Hunt being moved inside to right guard (at least for the start of his NFL career) and Davis staying at right tackle.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.