Jesse Davis and the Intriguing O-line Possibility
Jesse Davis began his Zoom media session Saturday by volunteering that he's been doing some work at center, which happens to be the only position he has not played for the Miami Dolphins.
By work, of course, we're talking about what's permissible within the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the revelation nonetheless is interesting because it makes us think about a scenario that really hasn't been brought up for the Dolphins offensive line among a multitude of scenarios that HAVE been discussed.
Up until now, the assumption has been that it will be Austin Jackson or Julién Davenport at left tackle, Ereck Flowers at left guard, free agent pick-up Ted Karras at center, and a whole bunch of options for right guard and right tackle, with Davis and second-round pick Robert Hunt the front-runners to take up the two starting spots regardless of who plays where.
But what if Davis becomes an option at center and the Dolphins end up using him at that spot instead of Karras, who let's not forget only started one season with the Patriots and that was because regular season starter David Andrews was sidelined with blood clots.
While his PFF grades might not reflect it, Davis has been serviceable, even solid, at just about every position he has played for the Dolphins except for left tackle.
So that makes the idea he could contribute at center not one to be summarily dismissed.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Davis winds up being the choice at center.
That leaves the same two openings at right guard and right tackle, with Hunt still a heavy favorite to land one of the two jobs.
There certainly is no shortage of candidates for the right guard spot, among them Danny Isidora (started the first three games at guard last year), second-year players Michael Deiter (started 15 games at left guard) and Shaq Calhoun (started seven games at right guard) and rookie fourth-round pick Solomon Kindley.
The list of realistic candidates at right tackle isn't nearly as long. Besides Hunt and Davis, there's third-player Adam Pankey, who was claimed off waivers from the Green Bay Packers last December, and a pair of rookie free agents, Nick Kaltmayer and Jonathan Hubbard.
Of course, one other option would be to use Davenport at right tackle.
Before we get too carried away or assume Davis-to-center is a done deal, let's establish a few things.
As he mentioned, the roster uncertainties created by COVID are going to put even more of a premium of the ability of players to play multiple positions, so if Davis showed he's proficient enough at center that he can be used at that spot, that's a bonus.
Let's also understand that the only players who had reported for camp (after their COVID testing) until today had been rookies, quarterbacks and injured players, a group that encompasses anybody who had been receiving treatment for an injury regardless of games missed.
So that limited group did not include someone like, say, Karras.
"When I’m out there, it’s the injured group, the rookies and the quarterbacks, it’s a little practice to get the group going," Davis said. "But right now it’s just been we don’t have a center right now and, 'Why don’t you see what happens?' So right now I don't want to go out there put my guys in the right spot, so I have to learn the stuff and make the right calls and put everyone in a position to be successful, see the reps and get the reps right.
"I guess it’s something to mess with, especially with this COVID stuff. You never know who is going to be up and who is going to be down. I’m excited for it.”
Davis says he was told in the spring the likelihood was that he would line up on the right side of the offensive line, either at guard or tackle.
That remains the most likely scenario for him and the most that seems to make the most sense for the Dolphins. But what Davis divulged about playing center nonetheless deserved some attention.