The Miami Dolphins have made their offensive line a priority this offseason, signing left tackle Branden Albert and left guard Shelley Smith through free agency. But the right side is wide open and the Dolphins are still in the market for impact players at the guard and tackle positions.
The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga was disruptive last season and carried into the offseason when Martin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Incognito, suspended in November for his alleged role in bullying Martin, has expressed an interest in returning to the team but would appear to be a long shot.
In addition to Martin s departure, Miami also let tackles Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo and Will Yeatman walk in free agency. Dallas Thomas, a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and free agent acquisition Jason Fox are candidates to start at either right tackle or right guard. Danny Watkins, Jason Weaver and Michael Ola will also compete for time.
Approaching the , it s easy to see the Dolphins using at least one early-round pick on an offensive lineman. They re unlikely to land one of the draft s top offensive tackle talents Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan but could still scoop up a starter-caliber tackle or the draft s best available guard with the No. 21 pick.
In Notre Dame s Zack Martin, the Dolphins could find a player who gives them options. He begins his NFL career as a tackle prospect but could ultimately land at guard because of size restrictions. Martin has swing potential right away and could compete at either spot for the Dolphins, if he s still on the board at pick No. 19.
Here s a look at Martin and four other candidates for the Dolphins at pick No. 19, in our predicted order of priority:
5. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: In terms of best overall talents, Mosley is likely to be at or near the top of the Dolphins list with the No. 19 pick. Whether first-year general manager Dennis Hickey can pull the trigger largely depends on the availability of offensive tackles and safeties. If top options at both positions are taken, Hickey could weigh value against conceivable needs on the interior of the offensive line and at linebacker, where Mosley could be a difference maker right away.
4. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: Kouandjio is a risk-reward pick with the blend of size (6-7, 322 pounds) and athleticism to play on either side in the NFL but with concerns about an ailing knee and his overall skill level. As the market for offensive tackles dries up, though, that package looks more appealing for teams in need. Count the Dolphins in this group if the foursome of Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin dries up in the first 18 picks.
3. Xavier Su a-Filo, OG, UCLA: The Dolphins could find an instant upgrade to the interior of their offensive line in Su a-Filo, who is both talented and NFL-ready. Su a Filo is a cut above the draft s other guard prospects with a high-character profile and the size (6-4, 307 pounds) and quickness that allowed him to play tackle in spurts. While a reach this early, Su a-Filo could be an immediate asset and low-risk investment into protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
2. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: Pryor and Alabama s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are interchangeable Nos. 1 and 2 on the list of the draft s top safeties, where a handful of teams in the top 18 picks will be looking for help. Pryor is a heavy hitter who appears to be giving way to Clinton-Dix as the top safety off the board, but has game-changing ability and a nose for the football. If he lasts to this point, he could fill a big need as a physical presence on the back end of Miami s defense.
1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Martin might or might not be able to stay at tackle over the course of his NFL career. But he s worth considering as an accomplished lineman who was a four-year starter for the Fighting Irish. He s also an excellent athlete who moves well and can contend for the starting spot at right tackle and right guard immediately. His versatility as a combo guard/tackle could prove valuable in the longer-term, too, making Martin a safe selection with upside at No. 19.
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