I cannot recall a draft in recent memory where there was this many potential prospects being discussed as first-round options for the Dolphins. You couldn’t count on both hands every name that has been tied to Miami and that #12 overall pick.
But I do believe we are starting to see a favorite emerge from the chaos. With left or right tackle now the only position where the Dolphins still need to find an immediate starter, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson is being recognized more and more as a favorite to land in South Beach.
But you can’t have this discussion without recognizing how remote of a possibility Johnson falling all the way to the 12th pick truly is.
He is considered one of the elite three tackles in the draft along with Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan product Eric Fisher. Most mocks have Johnson off the board no later than seven.
So would it be worth likely swapping first round picks with the Cleveland Browns at six and sending away one of the Dolphins’ second-round selections to nab Johnson?
Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Weight: 303 lbs.
Bench: 28 reps
Strengths: Athletic as they come. Evident by 4.74 40-yard dash at combine. Uses athleticism well too, utilizing quick feet and the ability to mirror to deny speed rushers the outside. Plays with good pad level. Very quick firing out of three-point stance. Knows how to use hands and length to create distance. Overall, quality footwork. Finishes blocks.
Weaknesses: Lacks experience on the offensive line. Played quarterback in high school and junior college and even some tight end and defensive end at Oklahoma. Has a difficult time getting leverage. Needs to add some bulk throughout his frame to give him the ability to anchor. Not a powerful run blocker.
Why draft Johnson?
Lane Johnson is about as good of a fit as they come for this football team. With such a pressing need to find Tannehill protection, coming away from the draft with one of the considered three elite tackle prospects would be a home run.
Johnson has proven that he can play at either right or left tackle as well, freeing the Dolphins up to have some flexibility with their plans for second-year tackle Jonathan Martin. The Dolphins are expected to be targeting more athletic lineman for their zone-blocking scheme. Lane Johnson fits the bill.
The need for an offensive tackle cannot be underestimated. Sure fans want to throw out playmakers like Tavon Austin and Tyler Eifert, but the fact of the matter is, Ryan Tannehill is the future of this franchise and needs to be valued as such.
It appears the Dolphins may have finally found an answer at the position that has haunted them ever since the great Dan Marino retired. And the first thing you do is send that answer out there with huge question marks at both tackle spots? Essentially, throwing him to the dogs? I don’t think so.
Do whatever it takes to invest in Tannehill’s protection. If it means moving up and having to surrender a second-round pick, fine. Besides, all those playmakers Ireland has invested in this offseason won’t do much good if Tannehill is running for his life, unable to get them the football.
The Dolphins have done a great job of positioning themselves to load up on talent in this year’s draft, completing the youth movement that began in free agency. Why would you want to surrender any of that ammo- in this case a second-round pick- in order to move up in the first round?
Yes, Lane Johnson would be a great fit and surely addresses this roster’s biggest need. But haven’t the Dolphins learned their lesson taking offensive lineman in the first round?
Sure, Jake Long and Mike Pouncey turned out to be very good players. But they weren’t game changers. There are potential game changers in the first round of this draft.
Playmakers like Tavon Austin and Tyler Eifert. A handful of pass rushers that can help neutralize some of the elite offenses in this league. Don’t pass up on a game changer for an offensive lineman, especially when you can find tackles in the second or third round that can do an adequate job of protecting Tannehill.
What do you guys think? Should the Dolphins trade up to land Lane Johnson?