Dolphins have improved the offensive line, but still a run or two ahead – The Mercury News

1 status group for the Miami Dolphins this season has made significant strides, but there is still more work to do on the offensive line.

The title-grabbing move was made in a tackle from top free-agent Taron Armstead. In the grand scheme of the offseason, it was only capped the next day when the Dolphins fielded the NFL’s fastest player at wide receiver Tyrek Hill, but strengthening the offensive line was a top priority as roster rebuilding began under new coach Mike McDaniel. .

Armstead, 30, will take the left tackle position, as he has for three Pro Bowl seasons with the New Orleans Saints. McDaniel mentioned in recent NFL meetings that this is a certainty.

But even with former Dallas Cowboys guard Conor Williams added to free agency, how the rest of Miami’s revised offensive line will be decided isn’t set in stone. Although Williams primarily played left guard at Dallas and the Dolphins, right guard Robert Hunt was perhaps the lone standout on last year’s offensive line, McDaniel is not committed to keeping him in those positions, especially as he is a new outsider. – Implements area planning.

“We’re building a new plan that highlights the different characteristics of a player’s performance,” McDaniel said, “and it wouldn’t be fair to the process, nor to the players to say, ‘Okay, this guy’s going to be here at all. . This time.’ Because it’s a different plan. We ask people to do different things.”

Williams played some tackle in college and could possibly play in the guard position. He also said he has cut the ball while Michael Deiter’s Dolphins lone center is on the roster as of early April. Hunt, apart from excelling at right guard in 2021, maintained the perfect tackle position as a rookie in 2020. He is a viable option to kick back when needed after the Dolphins released veteran Jesse Davis, who struggled. On the right tackle last season.

But if Hunt is kept on guard, the right tackle will be more likely to come down to early draft picks in the competition, the Dolphins last two seasons, 2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson and 2021 second-rounder Liam Eichenberg left. Used in tackle.

Although infamous for his game during the early days of his professional career, McDaniel sees youngsters as potential deterrents who can be steered in the right direction. Along with his successful offensive lines as offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator at his last stop with the 49ers, San Francisco was eyeing the same lineman, he said.

“I’m excited about all those players, while really every draft pick we put up front were guys, in a different city when I was working on a different team, we look to be targets for ourselves. were,” McDaniel noted.

A rough start to the 2021 season saw Jackson move to the left guard in his second year as a pro. This prompted Eichenberg to start with a left tackle as a rookie after Jackson did the same in 2020. Eichenberg also started last year’s opener at the New England Patriots, while Jackson was on the COVID list.

The Dolphins would need at least one of those two to step up and become a formidable starting NFL lineman. Eichenberg allowed a lot of pressure on left tackles in 2021. Jackson’s pass was guarded to block the edge, but he was still exposed due to a lack of lateral movement and the line was often confused when opponents brought stunts and twists to his pass. ,

While an upgrade on Dieter is still a possibility, centers like Jesse Traitor, who was formerly the Browns, is still a free agent. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has also indicated he has confidence in former guard Dieter. Miami can be expected Add a Lineman With Their Middle Round PicksLate in the third and in the middle of the fourth round.

Further up on the depth charts, 2020 fourth-round pick Solomon Kindley could offer a resurgence in guard after spending most of his 13-start rookie campaign on the bench in 2021.

Robert Jones, an unfinished rookie known primarily as a guard in the previous season, started the finale right and held his own.

The Dolphins acquired former second-round pick Greg Little in a pre-season trade with the Carolina Panthers last year, but he never saw the field in the regular season. Miami also has 2021 seventh-round pick Larnell Coleman, who could battle for a roster spot with fellow tackles from Adam Panke and Keon Smith.

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