The Miami Dolphins need to go all in on their offensive line once free agency kicks off.
The Mike McDaniel era is underway in Miami, as the new head coach brings a glimmer of hope to the offensive side of the ball. The issues are apparent, with Tua Tagovailoa still struggling mightily at times with an RPO-heavy attack, and an offensive line that didn’t give Tagovailoa enough time and eliminated some concepts from the offense as a whole.
It isn’t that the Miami Dolphins haven’t invested in their offensive line, as they made multiple picks in the top 50 in 2020 (Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt) and added another guard in Solomon Kindley on day three. The Dolphins also drafted Liam Eichenberg in the top 50 in 2021 and Larnell Coleman in the seventh round.
The issue is the results. Jackson was widely regarded as a toolsy player but was a definite reach in the first round. Eichenberg showed something at left tackle as a rookie, but his two-handed punch approach is still concerning, as is the footwork. Hunt has played fine when healthy, but this is a unit that needs to get right if things want to hum on offense under McDaniel.
If the front office and scouting department has trouble with the offensive line position, that’s alright! Often, teams’ scouts and evaluators are strong with some positions and weaker with others. What that means for the Dolphins is that it’s time to look to free agency to build the trenches.
The Dolphins have some of the most cap space in the NFL entering free agency, and that’s still true after a reported deal with Emmanuel Ogbah just minutes before things get underway.
They should start with a big fish, like former Saints tackle Terron Armstead. Yes, the injury bug has bit Armstead a bit recently, but he’s a dynamite left tackle who can change the offense by eliminating pass rushers. Armstead is elite when healthy. It might be worth looking at Billy Turner for the right side, as he was just released by the Green Bay Packers.
On the interior, they don’t necessarily have to go big and get someone like Brandon Scherff. If they are content with Eichenberg moving inside to guard, chasing someone at center might make more sense. If the Ravens can’t bring him back, Bradley Bozeman brings guard-center versatility and could lock down the center spot. If they still want to look at guard outside of Hunt and Eichenberg, Lucas Patrick and Mark Glowinski aren’t bank-breakers. Laken Tomlinson has familiarity with McDaniel having been in San Francisco as well.
No matter what combination it is, the Miami Dolphins have to go all-in with their offensive line. The offense needs a strong unit up front, and that’ll give them their best evaluation of Tagovailoa to determine next steps after 2022. Getting a run game going will be important for McDaniel, and that’ll help that phase thrive.