The Dolphins lost two, count 'em, two games last year when the tragic combination of poor coaching and bad right tackle play got together.
Miami lost to Baltimore and Buffalo -- two home games -- because coaches trusted right tackle Tyson Clabo to block a premier rusher in the final few minutes of a game one on one. And Clabo, inexplicably matched one on one against Terrell Suggs and Mario Williams with no tight end or running back help, gave up sacks that led directly to Miami's losses.
Clabo, a tough competitor and good man, took responsibility for losing the Buffalo game while coaches (Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin) defended the idea of putting him on an island in the game's most important series.
And so you're wondering how important it is that general manager Dennis Hickey find a good starting right tackle in the draft?
Well, as it is possible the coaching decisions might not change because Philbin is still in charge, the player at right tackle must be much better because who wants a repeat of 2013?
And so it is with that perspective that starting today we break down some of the key positions the Dolphins must address in the May 8-10 draft along with some of the players they have shown interest in selecting.
I'll tell you the players, some strengths, some weaknesses, where they might be available and how they might fit Miami's plans.
Today we start with offensive tackle.
OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff McGill (Canada): He's 6-5 and 298 and that is a little troubling because he is seemingly under prototype bulk. Although he competed well at the postseason All-Star games, there has to be some worries about the level of his competition as he played in Canada. He's very smart -- studying to become a doctor -- but that can work both ways, depending on whom one speaks. It takes the right kind of mindset to feel enough desperation to succeed. Some people that have other careers they can fall back on -- such as medicine -- don't exhibit that kind of full-fledged commitment. Projected 5-6 rounder.
OT Seantrel Henderson Miami: He's 6-7 and 335, was a prep star but has never lived up to the billing, suspended or benched multiple times at Miami. Never made full use of his gifts. Often overweight at Miami. Projected 4-5 rounder.
OT Ja'Wuan James Tennessee: He's 6-6 and 311, very fluid, senior with 49 games of experience, was in the shadow of teammate and LT Antoine Richardson until 2013 when he outplayed Richardson. He's a legitimate second round player and his experience in the SEC suggests he'll be ready to start right away. Dolphins would be lucky to have him available at No. 50.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama: He's 6-7 and 322, has bigger reputation based on exposure than his play suggests he should have. Lingering knee questions that he denies exist. Strictly a right tackle. Likely a late second round or third-round pick.
OT Cornelius Lucas Kansas State: He's 6-7 and 316 pounds. He's got prototype size but he's got a medical red flag in that he's nursing a stress fracture in his foot that prevented him from participating at the Combine or in private workouts. He's got the wingspan of a jetliner. He's very athletic and actually played tight end for a while. And although he plays with aggressiveness at times, there were questions about his motivation prior to last season.
OT Kevin Pamphile Purdue: He's 6-5 and 310, some see him as a guard while others say he can play tackle and is more valuable there. Either way, he's new to the offensive line, having switched from DT to G in 2011.
OT Garrett Scott Marshall: He's 6-5 and 307 and is a likely late-round project, although scouts say his stock is lately rising. His durability is a bit of a question because he missed mutliple games last season with an ankle injury and was slow to return. Second team All-Conference USA as selected by coaches witin the league.
OT-G Billy Turner North Dakota State: He's 6-5 and 315 and also is considered a guard-tackle tweener by some. I listed him as a guard on Monday but because he's interesting I want to discuss him here. He struggled early on in Senior Bowl practices at both guard and right tackle, showing poor leverage. By the end of the week of practices, however, Turner was fully integrated and didn't seem out of place or overmatched. He has very good punch. Good balance. Good quickness for his size.
It seems if the Dolphins want to target James they can trade down in the first round, add perhaps an extra third or fourth round pick and still get the Tennessee right tackle to be their starter in 2014.
Kouandjio is not a value pick at No. 19 and probably not in the first round. That's what many NFL scouts believe despite a local newspaper reporting that the "Dolphins like Kouandjio in the first round."
Maybe later in the draft.
But not at No. 19.