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Jeff Ireland on impact of offensive linemen

Remember when pundits were saying Reilly Reiff was Miami's likely pick at No. 8? Yeah, ain't happening.

But that doesn't mean the offensive line will be dismissed when the Dolphins dive into the draft next week. The Dolphins need help at right guard and right tackle. And they expect to get it.

But in the first round? God, I hope not.

As I've stated, the first round -- particularly the top part of the round -- should be set aside for impact players. I define impact players as those who make game-defining plays. They score touchdowns. They sack quarterbacks and end drives. They throw touchdowns. They come up with interceptions.

Offensive linemen do none of these.

And yet Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland considers offensive linemen impact players. I know because today I asked Ireland if he believes offensive linemen can be in that group of impact players with the receivers and quarterbacks and alike.

“It depends on if it’s the right guy, yeah, I consider him an impact player," Ireland said. "If a guy can start 16 games every single year and be a Pro Bowler, I think that’s a pretty impactful player.”

I respectfully disagree. An offensive lineman may be a foundational player. He might be a franchise cornerstone. But impactful?

Nope.

Quick, name the left tackle for the New York Giants. Or the New Orleans Saints.

No offensive lineman can lead his team to a playoff win. No offensive lineman makes a difference in a game unless he’s completely inept and is giving up sack after sack after sack.

Richmond Webb was as good as there was at left tackle and he shut down Bruce Smith year after year. And yet it was the Bills always advancing to the Super Bowl and typically doing it at Miami's expense.

With Miami's new-look offense, it has been speculated the Dolphins will be searching for a different kind of offensive lineman this year -- a smaller, quicker lineman. Ireland said that is not true.

"I think [offensive line coach] Jim [Turner] and [offensive coordinator] Mike [Sherman] and [coach] Joe [Philbin] are still looking for big, strong, athletic types for offensive linemen," Ireland said.

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