The Miami Dolphins have spent the 2022 offseason adding speed to the offense, retaining much of their defense, and building themselves to meet first-year head coach Mike McDaniel’s vision for the franchise. While additions like wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson and running backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel, along the potential growth of quarterback Tua Tagvailoa, have been the major focal points when it comes to the offense, it may be the play of the offensive line that really determines Miami’s 2022 success.
Miami made additions to the line, including landing one of the top free agents on the market this year in left tackle Terron Armstead, but even with their roster moves, the Dolphins will be relying on the growth of their recent draft picks to turn a disappointing 2021 line into a strength of the team in 2022. Armstead and fellow free agent signing Connor Williams will take two staring spots on the line, but the other spots will all be manned by players who were on the roster last year. Sixty percent of Miami’s offensive line will be players who need to grow into their potential.
Armstead will take the left tackle spot, while it appears Williams, who primarily played left guard with the Dallas Cowboys, will man the center position. “He’s been great,” defensive tackle Raekwon Davis said of Williams’ conversion to center. “We’ve been going back and forth and really competing and challenging each other every day. He’s been pushing me, I’ve been pushing him. It’s kind of like a fair match right now.”
How will Miami fill the left guard, right guard, and right tackle positions? Some combination of Blaise Andries (2022 undrafted free agent), Cole Banwart (2022 free agent signing), Larnel Coleman (2021 seventh-round draft pick), Michael Deiter (2019 third-round), Kellen Diesch (2022 undrafted free agent), Liam Eichenberg (2021 second-round), Robert Hunt (2020 second-round), Austin Jackson (2020 first-round), Robert Jones (2021 undrafted free agent), Solomon Kindley (2020 fourth-round), Greg Little (2021 trade from the Carolina Panthers), Adam Pankey (2019 waiver claim from Green Bay Packers), and Kion Smith (2021 free agent signing).
“It’s been great, man,” Armstead said of working with so many younger players on the line. “It’s been great. Just a great room. I’m blessed to be here, blessed to be with those guys. They come, they work extremely hard, open to coaching. They just want to be successful.”
Assuming Williams plays center, the Dolphins could look to Eichenberg to slide inside, moving from tackle to guard. While he struggled early in 2021 at tackle, Eichenberg seemed to improve as he gained experience. Sliding him between Armstead and Williams could place him in the best position for success.
Competing with Eichenberg for the left guard position could be Kindley. A mauler of an interior lineman, Kindley established himself as the starting right guard as a rookie, but then found himself buried on the depth chart last year, appearing in 16 games but with just two starts. He has the potential to be a solid NFL lineman, but he has to prove he is ready to reassert himself as a starter in the league, and he will have to do it in a zone-blocking scheme that may not fit him perfectly.
The Dolphins coaches seem to be leaving 2021 right guard Hunt in the same position for 2022, though he could eventually challenge for the right tackle position.
Assuming Hunt stays inside, Jackson should have the early lead in the battle for the right tackle spot. Little could challenge for the role, as could Eichenberg should he not stay at left guard.
Deiter will factor into several of the position battles, though Miami’s coaches could look at him as the perfect reserve player, versatile enough to play any position on the line in an emergency.
Miami’s starting offensive line could make a lot of sense if it looks something like:
Add Deiter as an immediate depth option in the interior, or possibly at tackle as well, and Miami’s offensive line appears to be in a better position than they were last year. Kindley, Little, Jones, and Pankey can provide further depth.
Is this an offensive line that can be successful for Miami in 2022? They appear ready to be an improved unit when compared to 2021. Any step forward for the Dolphins this year will be determined by the play of whichever five players are up front for the offense, so they have to be an improved group.