Pre-season Group Position Battles: Offensive Tackles | FinHeaven - Miami Dolphins Forums

Pre-season Group Position Battles: Offensive Tackles

Feverdream

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Welcome back brothers; in this installment I will begin discussing my favourite group, the Offensive Line. I've divided this into two parts: pure tackles and then, interior linemen. I've done this because of the large number of moving parts here, as well as the fact that with the modern game becoming so pass oriented, finding OTs with the nimble feet required to stonewall today's Edges has become uniquely important to a team's success.

Smart teams have decided that they can survive with average interior play, but a whiffed block on one of today's super pass rushers can end your season-- especially if your team employs a traditional drop-back QB (which we do). We see this every year as Tackle after Tackle is drafted before any Guard or Center... and as far as that goes, many NFL Guards WERE Tackles in college. Teams that invest heavily in Guards are making a pretty major error, especially in the salary cap era.

So... all of that said... let's look at what we've got.

It starts with Austin Jackson, a guy that we drafted when he was just 20 years old. Many thought he was a major reach, but we drafted him for two reasons 1) He had incredibly nimble feet that gave him the range to stay with a Bosa. And 2) He was so young that we took the view that this is a guy who we'll be prepared to eventually pay 25m/year on a 2nd or 3rd contract.
Many FH brothers screamed in hysteria when he wasn't immediately a star, but most pros understood that he was going to take awhile. Last year, he got there. We extended him and he'll be protecting Tua's blind side for most of his career. He'll always be better at pass blocking than power/gap blocking, as well as a plus run blocker in the second level, but THAT is what you want in a modern blind-side Tackle. Buy the jersey.

Our second building block is not going to start right away, but Patrick Paul is going to start eventually. Only 22 years old, he's essentially going to red-shirt this year behind Teron Armstead in Teron's final year in Miami. Patrick is getting something Austin never got, a chance to sit and learn behind a former All-Pro. Paul has the physical part down 6'7" plus, 331 lbs, long arms, and he runs very well. Like Jackson, Paul is not a power/gap style blocker; he's a modern OLT uniquely suited to a zone-blocking scheme.
I will admit that there were a few linemen that I liked better than Paul, but I did have him first in my second tier of Tackles, and I'm very happy that we got him. He starts in 2025.

Teron Armstead is not what he was, that said, he's still borderline elite WHEN he's healthy... which isn't very often. Lately, he's good for about half to two thirds of a typical season. With Teron you go, "Wow! What a great block!! Oh God... is he limping?"
How many games will he play? Your guess is as good as mine, but I will say this... if by some miracle, he plays every game, we have a top 10 Offensive Line. IF Teron actually manages to remain healthy, we might keep him for 2025 (no, I wouldn't bet on it).

Now, let's talk about group design. Most NFL teams settle on 9 linemen. Yes, you do see teams break camp with 8 or 10 sometimes, but this never lasts more than a week or two as men either become injured or return from an injury and then teams end up at the magic 9. So... the question usually is... is that 9th guy a Guard/Center or a Tackle/Guard?

Generally, when you have an injury prone Tackle, you go with the T/G. But we have a rookie Tackle ready to go, so this is a tough call... and that matters very much to two men, Kion Smith and Kendall Lamm, because they might be fighting over one spot.

Lamm played fairly well last year. In all fairness, it might have been the best stretch he's had in his long journeyman career. A nine year vet, he's NEVER been a starter in his career apart from one partial year in Houston. He considered retirement before re-upping for one last year in Miami. He probably isn't as good as he looked last year, but he doesn't suck.

Kion Smith is chasing a spot. After two full years on the Practice Squad, he finally saw a bit more play last year. As a former UDFA out of a really small school, just sticking around is more than anyone expected. He lacks elite size or speed, and he's probably a Tackle only as well. He may need an injury to make the 53, and his career arc is probably about the same as Kendall Lamm... career back up.

Any other Tackles that we bring to camp are realistically looking to win a spot on the practice squad.

We drafted Ryan Hayes in the 7th round last year, waived him at final cuts, lost him to an Indy waiver claim, then we resigned him to the PS when Indy cut him.
He played Tackle in college, but he has short arms and less than elite movement skills. Like Eichenberg, I think he'll eventually play Guard in the NFL, despite being a bit tall for the role.

He might have a shot at the roster as a T/G tweener, but he'll have to displace Kion Smith. Not an impossible goal, but he is a longshot.

Then there's Bayron Matos, a 6'7" absolute project from the Domican Republic by way of HS and college basketball. Does he have a chance to make the roster? No, but he has a roster exemption because he's an international player... he ran a sub 5 40, so he's a superior athlete, but at this point, he's no football player. I wonder if they'll try him at Tight End?

...and that's it. Not a lot of true Tackles in camp. We'll see a couple of T/Gs in our next section where I'll navigate the Interior Line. I expect that one will be more contentious than this one. Prepare your rotten fruit in advance.
 
Kion Smith looked surprisingly solid when he played and I was a big fan of Lamm all things considered last year. If it’s me, I’m keeping all 5…

But then what do you do on the interior? Wynn, Eich, Brewer, Jones, Driscoll

So that’s 10.

Ditto. Those are the 10 I'd keep. Smith is the goner if it's 9 ... which would be a bummer if he didnt make it to the PS with Hayes. Those are some damn good PS tackles though ... nice to have that kind of depth for once.

5 tackles, 5 interior ... sounds about right. You just pray they're healthy enough for Eich to never have to see the field ... especially at center.
 
Smart teams have decided that they can survive with average interior play, but a whiffed block on one of today's super pass rushers can end your season

See, I don't think that's a binary choice. Smart teams choose good play on BOTH parts. Trying to half-ass the guard position is going to come back to bite this team..... AGAIN.

I've said it before and I will say it again: I have zero faith in Eich. If he's a starter at guard, IMO that's a complete failure by the front office.

I hope he proves me wrong. I don't think he will.
 
Welcome back brothers; in this installment I will begin discussing my favourite group, the Offensive Line. I've divided this into two parts: pure tackles and then, interior linemen. I've done this because of the large number of moving parts here, as well as the fact that with the modern game becoming so pass oriented, finding OTs with the nimble feet required to stonewall today's Edges has become uniquely important to a team's success.

Smart teams have decided that they can survive with average interior play, but a whiffed block on one of today's super pass rushers can end your season-- especially if your team employs a traditional drop-back QB (which we do). We see this every year as Tackle after Tackle is drafted before any Guard or Center... and as far as that goes, many NFL Guards WERE Tackles in college. Teams that invest heavily in Guards are making a pretty major error, especially in the salary cap era.

So... all of that said... let's look at what we've got.

It starts with Austin Jackson, a guy that we drafted when he was just 20 years old. Many thought he was a major reach, but we drafted him for two reasons 1) He had incredibly nimble feet that gave him the range to stay with a Bosa. And 2) He was so young that we took the view that this is a guy who we'll be prepared to eventually pay 25m/year on a 2nd or 3rd contract.
Many FH brothers screamed in hysteria when he wasn't immediately a star, but most pros understood that he was going to take awhile. Last year, he got there. We extended him and he'll be protecting Tua's blind side for most of his career. He'll always be better at pass blocking than power/gap blocking, as well as a plus run blocker in the second level, but THAT is what you want in a modern blind-side Tackle. Buy the jersey.

Our second building block is not going to start right away, but Patrick Paul is going to start eventually. Only 22 years old, he's essentially going to red-shirt this year behind Teron Armstead in Teron's final year in Miami. Patrick is getting something Austin never got, a chance to sit and learn behind a former All-Pro. Paul has the physical part down 6'7" plus, 331 lbs, long arms, and he runs very well. Like Jackson, Paul is not a power/gap style blocker; he's a modern OLT uniquely suited to a zone-blocking scheme.
I will admit that there were a few linemen that I liked better than Paul, but I did have him first in my second tier of Tackles, and I'm very happy that we got him. He starts in 2025.

Teron Armstead is not what he was, that said, he's still borderline elite WHEN he's healthy... which isn't very often. Lately, he's good for about half to two thirds of a typical season. With Teron you go, "Wow! What a great block!! Oh God... is he limping?"
How many games will he play? Your guess is as good as mine, but I will say this... if by some miracle, he plays every game, we have a top 10 Offensive Line. IF Teron actually manages to remain healthy, we might keep him for 2025 (no, I wouldn't bet on it).

Now, let's talk about group design. Most NFL teams settle on 9 linemen. Yes, you do see teams break camp with 8 or 10 sometimes, but this never lasts more than a week or two as men either become injured or return from an injury and then teams end up at the magic 9. So... the question usually is... is that 9th guy a Guard/Center or a Tackle/Guard?

Generally, when you have an injury prone Tackle, you go with the T/G. But we have a rookie Tackle ready to go, so this is a tough call... and that matters very much to two men, Kion Smith and Kendall Lamm, because they might be fighting over one spot.

Lamm played fairly well last year. In all fairness, it might have been the best stretch he's had in his long journeyman career. A nine year vet, he's NEVER been a starter in his career apart from one partial year in Houston. He considered retirement before re-upping for one last year in Miami. He probably isn't as good as he looked last year, but he doesn't suck.

Kion Smith is chasing a spot. After two full years on the Practice Squad, he finally saw a bit more play last year. As a former UDFA out of a really small school, just sticking around is more than anyone expected. He lacks elite size or speed, and he's probably a Tackle only as well. He may need an injury to make the 53, and his career arc is probably about the same as Kendall Lamm... career back up.

Any other Tackles that we bring to camp are realistically looking to win a spot on the practice squad.

We drafted Ryan Hayes in the 7th round last year, waived him at final cuts, lost him to an Indy waiver claim, then we resigned him to the PS when Indy cut him.
He played Tackle in college, but he has short arms and less than elite movement skills. Like Eichenberg, I think he'll eventually play Guard in the NFL, despite being a bit tall for the role.

He might have a shot at the roster as a T/G tweener, but he'll have to displace Kion Smith. Not an impossible goal, but he is a longshot.

Then there's Bayron Matos, a 6'7" absolute project from the Domican Republic by way of HS and college basketball. Does he have a chance to make the roster? No, but he has a roster exemption because he's an international player... he ran a sub 5 40, so he's a superior athlete, but at this point, he's no football player. I wonder if they'll try him at Tight End?

...and that's it. Not a lot of true Tackles in camp. We'll see a couple of T/Gs in our next section where I'll navigate the Interior Line. I expect that one will be more contentious than this one. Prepare your rotten fruit in advance.
Absolutely love these Fever!!! Thanks so much for doing this. I’ll literally check these out before I try to get to sleep. Gives me something to think about instead of tomorrow’s work load. 😜
 
Kion Smith looked surprisingly solid when he played and I was a big fan of Lamm all things considered last year. If it’s me, I’m keeping all 5…

But then what do you do on the interior? Wynn, Eich, Brewer, Jones, Driscoll

So that’s 10.
Driscoll also could play RT in a pinch although if I recall, that’s not optimal
 
See, I don't think that's a binary choice. Smart teams choose good play on BOTH parts. Trying to half-ass the guard position is going to come back to bite this team..... AGAIN.

I've said it before and I will say it again: I have zero faith in Eich. If he's a starter at guard, IMO that's a complete failure by the front office.

I hope he proves me wrong. I don't think he will.
Sure, I will agree that it would be nice to have both, but I'm sure that you will grant that it is next to impossible to be strong in every single position group, especially in the salary cap era.

We could have signed Hunt, then the 'problem' would have gone away, but there's a salary cap.
We could have reached and drafted a Guard instead of an Edge and then a Tackle... but then we would have been weaker in more important areas...
I guess I see this as similar to my family's budget. Do I buy food and pay the power bill, or do I take a flight to Vegas.

IOL is a place where teams spend less.

As far as Eich goes... I don't think you are going to like my comments in the next section.
 
Sure, I will agree that it would be nice to have both, but I'm sure that you will grant that it is next to impossible to be strong in every single position group, especially in the salary cap era.

We could have signed Hunt, then the 'problem' would have gone away, but there's a salary cap.
We could have reached and drafted a Guard instead of an Edge and then a Tackle... but then we would have been weaker in more important areas...
I guess I see this as similar to my family's budget. Do I buy food and pay the power bill, or do I take a flight to Vegas.

IOL is a place where teams spend less.

As far as Eich goes... I don't think you are going to like my comments in the next section.

I don't think it was possible to sign Hunt. I'm not one of those people who are delusional about the salary cap. It exists, you have to work with it. This isn't a game of Madden.

I know some people are higher on Eich than I am. I still stand by what I said. I hope he proves me wrong. I just don't think he will.
 
Armstread and Jackson will start. Most interesting battle is Paul v Lamm. Lamm has been just another guy throughout his career. Paul is a high draft pick. He may be raw but you expect that high picks can beat out career journeyman for top backup spots
 
Armstread and Jackson will start. Most interesting battle is Paul v Lamm. Lamm has been just another guy throughout his career. Paul is a high draft pick. He may be raw but you expect that high picks can beat out career journeyman for top backup spots
Paul is 22. He really wasn't drafted with THIS year in mind. It would be nice if he's ready right away, but there's no need to rush him. He'll see a LOT of snaps in the preseason though as the team will surely keep Armstead out of harm's way.

Watching how both Jackson and Eichenberg were mishandled should have taught these coaches how NOT to do it. Put Paul in one position and leave him there... that 3-4 position bounce around that the Dolphins inflicted on Jackson... and then Eichenberg should never happen in Miami again.

Hell... it's nice to have an O-Line coach for a second year.
 
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