One of the problems the Dolphins have had with player development the past few years is they don't always have a clear vision about their talent.
Just prior to this draft, the Dolphins weren't sure if they were going to use 2013 draft pick Dallas Thomas as a guard or a tackle. So a year after picking him, having him in training camp and, indeed, getting him started in this year's offseason program, last year's third-round pick didn't know his position. (He should be a guard, folks).
Dannell Ellerbe, signed to a big-money contract to play middle linebacker last year, may be moving outside this year because that work he did at MLB was no bueno.
Koa Misi was drafted as a 3-4 outside linebacker but he's been taking repetitions as a middle linebacker now -- an experiment that has been tried multiple times during his time with the team. Jared Odrick? Drafted as a 3-4 DE. Now a 4-3 DT.
Dion Jordan? Is he a defensive end? Is he an outside linebacker? What's the vision for him?
And that brings me to Billy Turner, a Dolphins third-round selection in this most recent draft.
Turner played left tackle at North Dakota State as the Bisons won three consecutive FCS (small school) championships. Some teams projected him as a right tackle prior to the draft.
The Dolphins have not said where they want him to settle in.
Here's an idea: The Dolphins should settle Turner in at guard and ...
The Dolphins drafted a right tackle in the first round in Ja'Wuan James. They signed left tackle Branden Albert to a huge contract in free agency.
They have a hole at guard.
Turner, by all accounts, has a nasty personality on the field. He plays with good (should improve) pad level. He's a guard, folks.
The Dolphins do not need him competing with fellow rookie James at RT. It's a waste of repetitions. It asks too much to have him learn both spots right now. It doesn't maximize his chances to contribute early.
If I'm the Dolphins, I do with James and Turner what Don Shula tried multiple times in the 1990s: He picked Richmond Webb to play left tackle and Keith Sims to play left guard in 1990 and that's what the two rookies did every single repetition in practice and every single down in the preseason.
Voila, offensive line issues solved.
Shula tried a similar approach in 1995. He picked Billy Milner to play right tackle and Andrew Greene to play right guard. He didn't mess with position flexibility. He had a vision for both and gave each a chance to maximize at the positions they were selected to play.
It didn't work. Greene was not a brilliant guy or a very hard worker. Bust. Milner's talent was not up to par and he was gone from the team a year later.
But the point is they failed based on their talent level rather than a lack of vision or difficult circumstances created by the team plugging them in here or there.
The Dolphins have picked offensive tackle Billy Turner this draft. Make him a guard. Stick with the conviction. Now, release the hounds.
Let Turner hunt.