I got a considerable amount of pushback from Dolphins Twitter a couple of months ago when I said offensive tackle should be a top need on the Dolphins board. Well, I’m sticking to my guns. Miami should be looking at taking an OT with the third pick and consider taking one throughout all stages of the draft.
There are two primary reasons I believe this. One, I was not a fan of the Austin Jackson pick or the way he played this past season, and I think Robert Hunt would be an excellent guard instead of a barely average tackle. Second, assuming the Dolphins stick with Tua, they don’t have time to wait for those guys to develop. They need to get five good players on the field as soon as possible.
With that out of the way, let’s check on some of the best tackle prospects I think the Dolphins can get at various stages of the draft. Full disclosure is a deep class, and it will be impossible for me to hit all the names I want to.
Penei Sewell, Oregon
Penei Sewell (Oregon, LT) is very much in the conversation for the best OT I have ever evualted. Watch the recovery on this play. That level of athleticism is rare! pic.twitter.com/RjgvfGbBns
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) June 18, 2020
Sewell is the number one player on my board for the Dolphins if they stay at number three. He’s the best offensive tackle prospect I’ve ever evaluated since I started doing this back in 2017. The last time Sewell was on the football field, he was only 19 years old, but he’s fairly technically sound throughout his game.
He’s a fantastic football IQ which you can see in the thread above when he literally comes off a block without warning to punish a defender five yards behind him. Some people I’ve spoken to with more knowledge of NFL circles believe he’s not the best athlete in the world.
I’ll be honest; I completely disagree with anybody who says he’s not an elite athlete. Sewell’s pass sets are clean, and he’s legitimately explosive when getting out into space to block at the second level. His power and natural strength should be something that appeals to the Dolphins brass when they turn on the film. He’s a natural people mover with a mean streak in the running game.
Sewell is everything the Dolphins need upfront and more. If there isn’t a trade that blows them away at number three, then Sewell should be the pick.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Alijah Vera-Tucker is the LT on this play. Watch the drive and finish here. I’m like 20 minutes into his film, and I’m already a fan. pic.twitter.com/NbRyoAWNi1
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) February 23, 2021
If the Dolphins go a different direction with their top pick, Vera-Tucker is the OT prospect I would target with the 18th overall pick. He might the best overall fit for the Dolphins at the end of the day because he’s played guard at a high level before.
Vera-Tucker spent the 2019 season playing guard right next to Austin Jackson at USC, and he outperformed him in just about every way. Vera-Tucker kicked out to LT to replace Jackson this past season and again showed he was the superior prospect.
Vera-Tucker is an incredibly patient pass blocker with sound pass sets and accurate hand strikes. He plays with an edge in the running game, where he frequently showed he could generate movement at the line of scrimmage.
Bringing in Vera-Tucker would allow Miami to experiment with different offensive line combos that could include both Jackson and Hunt still playing tackle if they really believe that is the way to go. Either way, he would upgrade Miami’s line, and he checks a lot of the physical boxes they seem to like at the position.
Honorable Mentions: Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech and Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
Dillon Radunz (NDSU, OT): Watch how far he pushes this defender. His aggressive nature and effort were probably my favorite parts about his film. pic.twitter.com/shV1HmOyQx
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) June 24, 2020
It is tough to predict which OT prospects will still be on the board when the second round rolls around. I fully expect a number of them to start coming off the board in bunches at the backend of round one. I feel good about saying Radunz will be around at either 36 or pick 50 for the Dolphins.
Radunz is my favorite of this year’s FCS tackle prospects. He’s got great size, length, and natural power in the running game. He played with an edge and made a ton of FCS players look silly on film.
He needs to clean up some things with his deeper pass sets, but his short pass sets—which I imagine Miami will ask of him—are pretty good already. He’s clearly a smooth mover with some athletic ability worth developing. Radunz is a bit more of a project than the players already mentioned, but his upside is pretty considerable.
Miami coached him at the Senior Bowl, where he performed quite well for a player who only played one game this past season due to COVID-19. Radunz also showed he could play both guard and tackle at the Senior Bowl. If he impressed Flores and Grier in Mobile, it wouldn’t shock me if he’s on the Dolphins board on day-two.
Honorable Mention: Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (just a hunch, but I think he goes in RD1)
Jackson Carman, Clemson
Jackson Carman (Clemson, LT) has a ton of reps like the one below. He’s loves to finish defenders into the ground. I thought his deeper pass sets got better as the year went on too. pic.twitter.com/NHWPTD7fpy
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) June 20, 2020
Carman had some first-round buzz coming into the season, but that quickly faded as more athletic tackles started to pop up around the country. With the league’s current direction, I could see Carman falling to the third round and should be on the board in the second.
He fits the Dolphin’s benchmarks of length, size, and power. They seem to prefer mauler types—except for Austin Jackson which still makes no sense to me— and Carman has that part of his game down. His massive size and leg drive make him a natural people mover in the running game.
His first punch is very powerful as well, and he actually moves pretty well for someone of his size. Carman can struggle with speed on the outside if he can’t connect on his first punch. For this reason, some might want him to play guard at the next level. As I’ve mentioned, though, versatility is undoubtedly a plus for Miami.
D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
Need to get my hands on some ECU film. Smith's Senior Bowl was awesome. https://t.co/nQITF19BFQ
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) February 26, 2021
In the draft, Miami should only be selecting an OT only if they are truly the best player on the board. It would not be brilliant to draft an OT on day-three expecting them to start right away. However, continually investing in high-value positions, like OT, is good team building.
Smith is a potential day-three prospect I really like. His 2019 film shows a good athlete capable of clean pass sets with some pretty good power in the running game. He needs to clean up his footwork a little bit and could use it to add some strength to his frame still.
He barely played this past season for the Pirates, but he balled out at the 2020 Senior Bowl. Smith might’ve been the best tackle at the event throughout the week as he rarely lost a rep while showing all the improvements he’s made to his game thus far.
Smith is a project for sure, but he’s one I’d want in my building because he lacks nothing that I can’t teach him over time.
Honorable Mention: James Hudson, Cincinnati
Like the wide receiver position, the offensive tackle class is quite deep with a ton of talent. Miami should be able to either find a starting-caliber guard or upgrade at tackle in this group. There is an interesting conversation to be had about whether or not the Dolphins will view the offensive line as a need.
I was never a huge fan of Austin Jackson as a prospect and was lukewarm on Robert Hunt, so it’s much easier for me to sit here and say they should move on. But Miami clearly was, and they’ve invested a considerable amount of capital into those players. One of my favorite team-building mottos is “don’t let good players prevent you from drafting great players.” My hope is Miami embraces that instead of falling into a sunken cost fallacy.