Who do I look like? Mel Kiper? Don’t answer that. Let’s just proceed under the premise that projecting the NFL draft is a complex science, in the same way that tagging buffaloes and tracking their movements is science, and let’s agree that asking me to guess whom the Miami Dolphins will select in Thursday night’s first round is a cruel request made solely for the amusement of second-guessing readers. Fine. It says here, then, that the Dolphins will trade up about five spots from their No. 12 position to take offensive tackle Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, unless Miami trades for expensive Kansas City tackle Branden Albert, in which case every priority changes. Miami general manager Jeff Ireland has done so well in the offseason addressing team needs through free agency that there would be no need to boo the drafting of a first-round offensive lineman for the second time in three years. That’s because quarterback, the position that draftniks have been targeting since Dan Marino and the 20th century simultaneously ran out of gas, is no longer a prime concern. It’s Ryan Tannehill’s job, the reward of a far riskier first-round choice by Ireland in 2012. Now comes the luxury of a Thursday night in the Dolphins draft room with all of the usual heartburn but fewer of the monstrous palpitations. The Dolphins could sit still and get a pretty good player at No. 12. In a draft minus transformative stars like Andrew Luck, it’s almost better to be where Miami is than in the top two or three spots. A bad miss at the very top of the draft can set back a struggling franchise for a long time. Don’t count Jake Long as a bust, though. He was a good call for Miami with the first overall pick in 2008 but slightly ahead of his time. The Dolphins didn’t have a quarterback yet so the cornerstone position of left tackle wasn’t nearly as valuable in terms of blind-side protection. Also, there’s no predicting the cumulative effect of injuries. In the end, that’s what kept Long from becoming another Richmond Webb. Now, back to Lane Johnson, a left tackle who comes along at the right time. Tannehill suddenly has a true deep threat in Mike Wallace, the best of what turned out to be an impressive free-agency haul for the Dolphins. Draft Johnson and you give those two touchdown-makers a better and broader opportunity to connect downfield.
Don’t feel let down if the Miami Dolphins take an offensive lineman in Round 1
Palm Beach Post | Apr 24