Right tackle is one of the last positions on Miami’s roster that looks like a gigantic hole.
The Dolphins have done an admirable job trying to rebuild the offensive line by signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams, but right tackle was left unaddressed in both free agency and the draft.
Miami has a plethora of young players who could look to fill the role as the battle for the right tackle spot is beginning this week at OTAs. Here’s a dive into Miami’s options to fill one of the most vital spots on the offensive line.
Jackson’s career in Miami has been nothing short of a disaster since he was overdrafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2020. However, Jackson appears to be the frontrunner to start at right tackle this coming season as the new coaching staff has spoken highly of him.
The former USC Trojan started as Miami’s left tackle for the 2020 season and started the first three games of the 2021 season there before moving to left guard for the rest of the season.
Jackson’s time at tackle was highlighted by lowlight after lowlight. In 2020, he gave up 29 hurries and 38 quarterback pressures, per PFF. In 2021, he then followed that up by allowing 41 quarterback hurries and 49 quarterback pressure — both ranked among the worst in the NFL.
Putting it simply, Jackson has been one of the worst starters in the NFL since coming into the league.
However, the 2022 offseason has been filled with hope for Jackson. Mike McDaniel’s outside zone offense will be a much better scheme fit for the athletic tackle, who tested above the 82nd percentile in multiple important categories at the NFL combine.
Jackson himself said this during his offseason media availability with reporters.
austin jackson on playing in a ZBS
"it aligns with a bunch of my strengths, more than being athletic. personally, i think i can play in any system…i'm really excited. i don't know how to fully explain it, but definitely know we're utilizing speed. very competitive & aggressive
— josh houtz (@houtz) April 13, 2022
Putting trust in Jackson to become a long-term right tackle in the NFL is foolish; however, it’s not crazy to think he could improve thanks to better coaching and McDaniel’s scheme.
The natural talent has always been there for Jackson, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Miami’s next option for right tackle is another struggling recent draft pick, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg.
Miami traded up in the second round to select Eichenberg in the 2021 NFL Draft, and things did not go well for him as a rookie. He spent the entire offseason learning to play guard and right tackle after spending his collegiate career at left tackle.
Eichenberg played okay at right tackle in week one before things spiraled downhill, and he was moved back to left tackle following week four. Things didn’t get much better for Eichenberg there either, as he was frequently outmatched athletically.
He finished 2021 allowing 45 quarterback hurries and a whopping 62 quarterback pressures, which is a genuinely horrid number.
Unlike Jackson, McDaniel’s outside zone scheme might not be a benefit to his development. Eichenberg doesn’t have the movement skills Jackson does and won’t be as effective getting out into space or moving laterally towards the sideline.
Eichenberg’s only hope is to hone his technique so well he never makes mistakes in pass protection. It’s a good sign it was reported Terron Armstead stood after practice to help Eichenberg because he’s going to need it.
Miami spent premium assets to get Eichenberg, but right now, he’s on the outside looking for a positional battle that most NFL-caliber tackles would win easily.
Here’s a fun fact. Former Middle, Tennessee UDFA Robert Jones, was Miami’s highest-graded right tackle last season. Now that comes with many caveats, chief among them being that he barely played in 2021.
Jones made just one start last season — week 18 against the Patriots — but he finished 2021 with a PFF grade of 63.6.
Although Jones was a UDFA last season, many draft analysts, including myself, had him as a draftable player with legitimate upside to be a solid NFL player. It’s only one game, but Jones’ start in week 18, while flawed, showed clear improvements from his collegiate tape.
He’s truly the only option on this list that has an upward trajectory of play. That probably says more about the players he’s competing against than him, but Miami is desperate, and it’s something to hold on to.
Another positive note is Jones also stayed behind after practice on Tuesday to get some coaching from Terron Armstead.
Jones starting at right tackle on week one is incredibly unlikely and would probably indicate something has gone entirely wrong. With that said, if Jones makes the roster this offseason, don’t be surprised if he’s the first offensive lineman off the bench over either Jackson or Eichenberg.
Diesch is Miami’s highest-paid UDFA this season, and he recorded a 4.89 40-yard dash, a 32-inch vertical jump, and a 4.43 20-yard shuttle at the NFL combine, which has led some fans to get excited about him filling Miami’s right tackle spot.
While UDFAs have a history of making Miami’s roster, they don’t typically earn starting reps in week one. Additionally, although Diesch is a perfect scheme fit for McDaniel’s offense, there is a reason he went undrafted.
For starters, Diesch’s arms are pretty short, leaving some to believe he can’t play tackle at the NFL level. Also, he’s listed at only 301 pounds, which won’t cut it against NFL defensive linemen.
Diesch is a long shot, but he’s worth paying attention to this offseason.
(Players who could technically play right tackle but definitely shouldn’t)
Hunt is probably Miami’s best right tackle, but he’s also their best right guard, and last season proved he’s better at right guard than right tackle, so they should leave him there.
He played zero snaps last season for a team that had arguably the worst offensive line in football.
Coleman spent last season dealing with an injury. Between him, Diesch and Jones, someone isn’t making the roster.
He played one snap last season — at tight end.