MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have pretty big shoes to fill on either the left or right side of the offensive line heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. The Fins let LT Jake Long leave in free agency and will either move Jonathan Martin to left tackle or keep him at right tackle and draft a replacement for Long.
The top two tackles in the 2013 NFL Draft are Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher and Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel. Both are expected to be long gone by the time the Dolphins go on the clock with the twelfth overall pick.
The next best offensive lineman is Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson. The former Sooner turned in a freakish performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and is a former quarterback and tight end who literally grew into being an offensive lineman.
As CBSSports.com reported, at the combine Johnson was 6’6” and 303 pounds and ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.74 second. For reference purposes, that’s faster than Super Bowl hero receiver Anquan Boldin ran when he entered the NFL.
Johnson also had a vertical leap of 34 inches, which was the same as top wide receiver A.J. Green when he was at the combine a few years ago. Obviously, the athleticism is there with Johnson.
According to the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin and agent Drew Rosenhaus, the Dolphins are considering moving up into the Top 10 of the NFL Draft to secure the rights to Johnson.
However, remember at this time of year in the NFL it’s often about creating a smokescreen to convince teams drafting ahead of you that you are completely sold on one guy to get them to draft that player while you end up drafting the player you actually wanted that was passed up on by teams drafting ahead of you.
That said, Johnson, or Fisher or Joeckel if they start to tumble, going to the Dolphins seems like a no-brainer. But, it would also be a tough sell in Miami as the team has invested high draft picks in the offensive line for the last several years, to no avail.
Long was the top overall pick in the 2008 draft, center Mike Pouncey was the top pick in the 2011 draft, Martin was a second round pick in the 2012 draft and guard John Jerry was a third round pick in the 2010 draft.
If the Fins spend a top pick on another left tackle, that would give them an offensive line with two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and a third-round pick, plus free agent signee Richie Incognito, assuming Jerry earns the starting right guard job.
If the Fins chose to remain at number 12 in the draft, they could hope that guard Chance Warmack somehow slips to them in the first round. Warmack would slide into the right guard position and Miami would look for a tackle in the next few rounds.
The Dolphins also have a need at cornerback, but no corner that fits the Dolphins philosophy is rated high enough to draft at number 12.
The Fins, if they are interested in one of the top tackles, will have to wait for Kansas City to choose their tackle and then see which tackle gets past Detroit with the fifth pick. At that point, Miami may have to move up to sixth to jump the Cardinals to get Lane Johnson, if that’s who the team wants.
Luckily for the Fins, they have plenty of ammunition to move up in the first round. The Dolphins have five picks in the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft.
There’s also one other name that has moved up at least one draft board, ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper, Jr.’s. The longtime NFL Draft analyst put out his most recent mock draft and said the Dolphins would draft Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker.
Fluker came to Alabama as a left tackle but settled in at right tackle and was one of the best in the nation last season. Fluker stands 6’5” and weighs 339 pounds which may be too big for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins will be running.
Fluker hasn’t been mocked as high as twelfth until Kiper released his mock draft, so it’s unlikely Fluker may be rated that high on most draft boards.