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Players Dolphins like: Guard edition

NFL teams have drafted 12 guards in the first round since 2000.

So 14 drafts have netted a dozen first round guards and those relatively modest numbers have nearly doubled the past two drafts when five guards were picked in the first round.

Of those 12 first-round guards, only four have become multiple Pro Bowl players -- Mike Iupati, Ben Grubbs, Steve Hutchinson and Logan Mankins.

NFL teams ignored the guard position in the first round altogether in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 and had only one first-round guard picked in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 when the Eagles picked Danny Watkins. Yeah, that Danny Watkins.

(By the way, the Dolphins picked Vernon Carey in 2003 but I think we all know he was a tackle most of his career and the only reason he played guard early in his career was short-sighted coaching decisions).

The point is with only one true guard, UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo, showing enough promise to suggest value in the first round, it stands to reason the Dolphins are probably not going to fill their need for a guard in the first round.

No source. Just a hunch.

But in later rounds? Maybe the third or on the third day of the draft? Fans should hope so because the team has a definite need at the position and, my opinion, it would be a mistake to bank on the guard possibilities currently on the roster -- outside of Shelley Smith who was signed as a free agent to be a starter -- to find another starter.

So who and what are the possibilities? Today we continue our look at the players the Dolphins have shown interest in and focus on guards.

Consider:

G  Joel Bitonio Nevada: He's 6-4 and 302 and played some tackle in college but several NFL teams see him as a guard. He's likely a second round pick, probably before the Dolphins pick in that round at No. 50. That might be too early for Miami to trade up to. Trade back in the first and get him and and another pick?

G Kadeem Edwards Tennessee State: He's 6-4 and 308, extremely long arms (34 1/2) but needs to improve his upper and lower body strength, projected third day of draft player.

G Jon Halapio  Florida: He's 6-4 and 323, projected round 4-5.

G Brandon Linder  Miami: He's 6-6 and 311, better suited for zone blocking than man, which obviously is in the Dolphins wheelhouse. Here's the thing, though, the Miami offensive line that was so big and so experienced the past two years was also something of a dud. Projected 3-4 rounder.

G Spencer Long  Nebraska: He's 6-5 and 320 and is the best OL prospect on team but had reconstructive knee surgery in October. He may not be ready for training camp, which makes him a later-round possibility. I got to say, the Dolphins need to start drafting healthy players because drafting the ailing players was a tremendous bomb last year.

G-OT Zack Martin  Notre Dame: He's 6-4 and 308 and is a very solid right tackle candidate but some teams think he needs to project as guard. That's fine, except the kid would rather play tackle and his experience at guard is comparatively limited. "Clean" player. Ready to start. Can fill in at RT in a pinch.

G Justin McCray UCF: He's 6-3 and 321, local kid from Southridge High School, was selected first-team All-American Conference. Third round type.

G Jordan McCray UCF: He's 6-2 and 322, the twin to Justin, also first-team All-American Conference pick, slightly stronger than his brother and better punch, not quite as quick. Third round type.

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