Exploring Dolphins’ offensive line options at 21. The analyst feedback, the metrics, more

The first round of the NFL Draft is deeper in offensive linemen than perhaps any other position.

The question for the Dolphins is whether they will love anyone that’s available with the 21st overall pick, and whether they’ll choose the right one.

While their post-first round offensive line drafting (outside of Robert Hunt) has been largely deplorable for 30 years, they have traditionally hit on first-round linemen, including Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey and to a lesser extent, Austin Jackson, who didn’t become the top-flight left tackle they hoped but has become a good right tackle.

At least two tackles — Notre Dame’s Joe Alt and Penn State’s Olu Fashanu — are expected to be off the board long before the Dolphins pick.

It also would be surprising if Alabama’s JC Latham is on the board in 21; ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. mocks him 11th. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said his client, Latham, will be off the board by Miami’s pick.

And it would be surprising if Washington guard/tackle Troy Fautanu is there at No. 21.

So those are four offensive linemen expected to be gone by 21. And one or two others could be gone, as well.

Here are some Pro Football Focus metrics and draft analyst feedback on the other offensive linemen expected to go in the first round, as well as Fautanu (who’s the only one of the aforementioned four linemen who is still being mocked in Miami’s range by at least some draft evaluators):

Duke’s Graham Barton, a tackle who is projected to be an interior lineman in the NFL and is now a popular mock pick for Miami.

The metrics: He played every one of his snaps at left tackle the past three seasons, including 492 last season. He allowed two sacks and nine hurries in 258 pass-blocking snaps last season after yielding two sacks in 2022 and six in 2021.

For 2023, PFF gave him decent grades as a run blocker (71.2) and pass blocker (78.2).

The reaction: Kiper and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah both have him going to Miami at 21 in some versions of their mock drafts in the past month, with Jeremiah noting: “He could play all five spots up front.”

(Kiper now has Barton going 20th and the Dolphins taking FSU edge player Jared Verse at No. 21.)

ESPN’s Jordan Reid said: “Some scouts believe Barton could play tackle or guard at the next level, especially because he has played left tackle for Duke the past three seasons. But I see him fitting in best at center, where he began his college career.”

Oregon State tackle Taliese Fuaga: It would be a long shot for him to get to Miami. Kiper has him in the mid-teens.

The metrics: All of his snaps the past three seasons have come at right tackle, including 699 last season. In 734 career pass-blocking snaps, he didn’t allow a single sack and 18 pressures. And PFF rated him an elite run blocker last season (90.9).

The reaction: Jeremiah mocks him 10th: “I love Fuaga’s tape from his career at Oregon State. I think we’ll see him move up draft boards during the evaluation process. He’s massive and powerful.”

Kiper: “Fuaga started 25 games at right tackle for the Beavers, but he could play inside as a rookie… He is a dominant run-blocker with powerful hands and strong lower body.”

Among the prominent network draft analysts, only ESPN’s Jordan Reid has him falling to Miami at 21.

Washington guard/tackle Fautanu:

It’s doubtful if he gets to 21. Kiper mocks him 10th.

The metrics: He played 890 snaps at left tackle in 2022 and 984 last season. He permitted no sacks and 13 hurries in 2022 and two sacks and 18 hurries last season. He also played 99 snaps at left guard, including one last season.

PFF gave him a mediocre run-blocking grade last season (61.9) compared with a strong 88.2 as a pass blocker.

The reaction: Though he played mostly tackle at Washington, many see him as a guard.

“He can play tackle in a pinch,” Jeremiah said.

Kiper: “I see his future at guard; his 6-foot-4, 317-pound frame and playing style fit on the interior. He allowed two career sacks on nearly 1,250 pass-blocking snaps. It wouldn’t shock me if a team drafted Fautanu to play tackle, but I see All-Pro upside for him at guard.”

ESPN’s Matt Miller mocks him 26th and says: “Fautanu played left tackle in college but projects as a guard in the pros with his arm and height measurements expected to be a little below league standards for left tackles…. I believe he can be a Pro Bowl-level [guard] early in his career.”

Georgia’s Amarius Mims:

There’s a decent chance he will be on the board at 21 and Miami has studied him closely.

The metrics: He played exclusively right tackle the past three seasons and didn’t give up a sack in 402 combined pass-blocking snaps during those three seasons.

But PFF gave him a mediocre 68.4 grade as a run blocker, compared with 81.3 as a pass blocker.

Injuries are a concern. Mims suffered a high ankle sprain against South Carolina midway through the season and underwent tightrope surgery. He left the SEC Championship Game against Alabama with another ankle injury.

The reaction: Jeremiah and Miller both have him going 20th to Pittsburgh, one spot before Miami.

Miller’s take: “Mims started only eight games in college because of injury and the great depth on the Bulldogs’ offensive line, but scouts were raving about his tape throughout the season. There isn’t a better mover at tackle in the class, and he backs that up with 330 pounds of power.”

ESPN’s Field Yates has him 22nd in his mock draft with Kiper, who noted: “There’s some risk with taking Mims, as he started only eight games in college because of injuries and NFL picks in front of him on the Georgia depth chart. But his ceiling is incredibly high.”

PFF rates him fifth among offensive tackles, with this assessment: “Take one look at Mims, and the immediate takeaway will be, “They don’t make many like this dude.”

Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton:

He’s projected right in Miami’s range, a bit later by some analysts. The Dolphins brought him to their headquarters for a predraft visit.

The metrics: He played 350 and 661 snaps at right tackle the past two seasons. He also has 80 snaps at left tackle in his career, including one last season. He allowed no sacks and nine quarterback hurries in 355 pass blocking snaps in 2023 and yielded just one sack in 511 career pass blocking snaps.

PFF gave him a mediocre run-blocking grade (60.5) and a decent pass-blocking grade (72.9) for last season.

The reaction: ESPN’s Miller has him going 19th: “He started just 14 games in college at Oklahoma, playing primarily on the right side, but we saw him work both sides with equally great results at the Senior Bowl. Guyton has fantastic length and light feet to move in space.”

Jeremiah has him going 22nd and calls him “one of the most athletically gifted tackles in the class.”

Kiper said “NFL teams will covet his physical tools, even though he started just 15 games in college.”

Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson:

Some draft analysts, including Kiper, have him slipping from the 15 to 25 range to the second round. The Dolphins brought him in for a predraft visit.

The metrics: He played all 829 of his snaps at center last season and remarkably, permitted no sacks and just one hurry in 497 pass-blocking snaps. PFF also gave him an excellent grade (85.2) as a run blocker.

In 2022, he played 350 snaps at right guard, 44 at center, one at left guard and five at right tackle.

In 2021, he played 80 at right guard, 20 at center and 26 at left guard.

The reaction: He excelled in a couple of Senior Bowl practices before a hamstring injury tabled him for the week.

Kiper has him falling to 47th.

“Has a great combination of agility and size,” said Miller, who mocks him 28th. “The 334-pounder would immediately be one of the largest centers in the NFL, but he moves like someone 20 pounds lighter.”

Washington tackle Roger Rosgarten and Arizona tackle Jordan Morgan are potential very late first-round picks.