Ireland: We Need To Add Depth To Offensive Line

Posted Apr 16, 2013

Deep draft plus bevy of picks gives Miami lots of options.

There is a solid core in place along the offensive line for the Miami Dolphins, starting with center Mike Pouncey and moving to his immediate left with Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito. Last year’s second-round pick, tackle Jonathan Martin, also is a part of that core.

But General Manager Jeff Ireland has made improving the offensive line overall a priority. Last month, Ireland added guard Lance Louis via free agency and re-signed tackle Nate Garner, who started the last four games of the 2012 season at right tackle after Martin moved to the left. Louis provides competition for right guard John Jerry, a third-round draft pick in 2010.

With a second-year quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, a young running back corps led by second-year back Lamar Miller and a restructured wide receiver group, the importance of having a solid front five and capable talent behind them on the bench has increased. That is not something Ireland is taking lightly.

“We’re going to try to upgrade the offensive line as whole,” he said last week during his pre-draft press conference. “Where we do it (and) how we do it, right now, we have a really good core of players with Jonathan and Richie and John and obviously Pouncey, and I think Nate’s in that core group of guys at this point. Behind them, we have a very young group of guys that don’t have a lot of experience. So we need to add depth there. We need to add some experience. We certainly need to add some talent on the offensive line.”

Once Ireland and the Dolphins convinced themselves that they could let four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long depart as a free agent, Martin’s stock rose. Ireland is leaving it up to Head Coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and offensive line coach Jim Turner to determine whether he’s a better fit at left tackle or right tackle, but the fact that Martin is that flexible is seen as a positive.

Martin is still developing and how much stronger he gets during the offseason conditioning drills and mini-camps will go a long way towards making that decision for the coaching staff an easy one. He played left tackle all through college at Stanford, protecting quarterback Andrew Luck, so he’s naturally comfortable over there, but with 11 draft picks at his disposal one week from Thursday and free agency still not over, there are enough avenues available to cover Miami’s bases.

“Obviously, we have all of our options open,” Ireland said. “There are still free agents on the street. There are still guys in the trade market that are available and then we have the draft that’s two weeks away that certainly we could go that route as well. Obviously, I think we’ll probably be active in maybe one of those pieces and maybe more.”