Fins Turning Attention To Guard Position
DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have filled one position along the offensive line, but still have three to fill as the free agent crop begins to thin at the tackle and guard positions.
The Dolphins signed Pro Bowler Branden Albert to man the left tackle position and center Mike Pouncey returns from last year’s squad. But past that, the Dolphins need a pair of guards and a new right tackle.
The only quality tackle remaining on the free agent wire is right tackle Zach Strief. He spent the last few seasons with the New Orleans Saints and it’s been expected that he’d like to remain in New Orleans. However, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, Strief is now open to receiving offers from other teams.
Strief has been a consistent starter at right tackle for the Saints and excels in pass protection given the Saints’ proclivity for throwing the ball. He’s 30-years-old, which could be a negative, but CBSSports.com described him as a free agent who “could start for just about anyone.”
The Dolphins could also choose to pass on Strief and attack the right tackle position with the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2014 Draft. The most popular target in mock drafts for the Dolphins has been Notre Dame tackle/guard Zack Martin.
At the guard position, the Fins are scheduled to host former St. Louis Rams offensive guard Shelley Smith on Thursday night. Smith is an athletic guard who excels pulling and working in a zone blocking scheme like the Dolphins run on the offensive line.
Smith is 6’4” and 312 pounds and started eight games over the last two years for the Rams. He was originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the Houston Texans. Incidentally, Smith’s offensive line coach in Houston his rookie year was John Benton, the Fins’ current o-line coach.
According to the Herald, the Dolphins have called to express interest in several guards including Daryn Colledge and Wade Smith along with center/guard Even Dietrich Smith. The Fins, according to the Herald, are expected to sign at least one veteran guard.
In the NFL Draft, there are several guards who would plug into the Dolphins as starters. At the top of the list are Xavier Su’a-Filo and David Yankey, followed by Gabe Jackson. Su’a-Filo is 6’4” and 307 pounds and is ranked at the top overall guard available in the draft. He’s started 38 games at UCLA.
Yankey is a bit larger at 6’6” and 315 pounds. He managed just 22 repetitions on the 225 pound bench press, but has started all but one game over the last three seasons at both guard and left tackle. However, being an ex-Stanford player may give pause to many Dolphins fans.
Jackson is a classic mauler and three-year starter at Mississippi State. He is 6’3” and 336 pounds and is strong, throwing 225 pounds up 30 times on the bench press.
One other name to keep an eye on is Baylor guard Cyril Richardson who at one point was one of the top guards in the draft. The 6’5”, 329 pound guard is now projected by CBSSports.com to be picked in the third to fourth round.