Buy, Sell, or Trade: Offensive Tackle

2015 Review

When healthy the Miami Dolphins offensive tackles are a glimmer of hope on what is mostly a glaringly weak offensive line. Yes, Dolphins fans there is hope, but I must reiterate the beginning of that sentence, “when healthy”! Branden Albert, the former pro-bowler who signed a 5-year 47 million dollar contract in the offseason of 2014 was a giant step toward the Dolphins gaining a cornerstone player to fix their struggling line. Albert would repair the barren hole on Ryan Tannehill’s blindside in wake of the infamous “Bullygate” scandal, or so they thought.

When on the field Braden Albert grades among the best left tackles in the league, both in run blocking and pass protection. The problem for Albert has never been about productivity, but about his ability to stay healthy. After tearing his ACL/MCL against the Lions in week 10 of 2014, the road to recovery was hard fought for the tackle who rehabbed for over 10 months, and missed much of the Dolphins training camp before returning to action. Albert had one minor setback in 2015 after leaving the field with a hamstring injury in week 2, and would not return until week 6. Beside some rust and his minor injury Branden Albert had a solid 2015.

(Albert was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement Wednesday)

Next is Ja’Wuan James, the Dolphins 14th overall pick in the 2014 draft. James has done an admirable job since arriving in Miami, distinguishing himself as a legitimate starting right tackle in the NFL with his excellent pass-protection skills. The Dolphins second year man started off on the right foot in 2015, playing at an extremely high level until a week 8 toe injury sidelined the tackle for the remainder of the season.

Lastly is depth, something that Miami had very little of, and the depth the Dolphins did have frankly wasn’t very good. Jason Fox, who was recently cut from the team, took over at tackle week two for the injured Brenden Albert then again in week 8 for the injured James, and that’s when the train-wreck began. I will give Fox credit where credit is due, starting in 11 games as a back-up is no easy task. Ultimately Fox’s inability to perform at a high level in crucial situations drastically hurt the Dolphins, contributing heavily to the Dolphins underwhelming 31st ranked offensive line.

By cutting Jason Fox the Dolphins free 1.4 million in cap.

Overall the Dolphins tackles did ok in 2015. Yes the grade is heavily weighted down by the presence of Jason Fox, but health concerns have plagued the Dolphins for multiple years, and injuries can not be used as excuses.

2015 grade: C-

 

Current Roster
NameContractExperience 2016
Branden Albert 5 year, $47,000,000 8$8,425,000
Ja'Wuan James4 year, $8,428,398 2 $1,112,436
Unrestricted Free Agents
Top 3
NameCurrent TeamExperience/Position2015 Salary
Russell OkungSeattle Seahawks6, LT$7,280,000
Andre SmithCincinnati Bengals7, RT$6,362,500
Donald PennOakland Raiders10, RT$5,400,000
Value Picks
NameCurrent TeamExperience/Position2015 Salary
Cordy GlennBuffalo Bills4, LT$1,548,000
Bobby MassieArizona Cardinals4, RT$1,410,433
Chris ClarkHouston Texans7, RT$1,400,000
2016 Draft
Top 3
NamePositionSchoolProjected Round
Lamrey TunsilOTOle MissTop 20
Ronnie StanleyOTNotre DameTop 25
Jack ConklinOTMichigan State1-3
Value Picks
NamePositionSchoolProjected Round
Vadal AlexanderOT/GLSU1-3
Jereld HawkinsOTLSU2-3
Joe DahlOTWashington State2-4
Conclusion

The Dolphins have to play it smart this offseason and conserve what little funds they have remaining, avoiding their love for bidding wars at all cost. With a plethora of quality free agents hitting the market at what should be reasonable prices, building depth through free agency is a logical, smart way to help the lack of depth on Miami’s offensive line.

Then there is the draft, unlike the guard position, this years draft is loaded with NFL ready tackles throughout much of the first 4 rounds. In drafting a tackle early the Dolphins also have the ability to move a starter inside, killing two birds with one stone.

Branden Albert- Buy
Ja’Wuan James- Buy
Jason Fox- Sold

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