Working on the offensive line story for the magazine, it's usually a challenge figuring out who should be last. Every team is trying to assemble a competent line, of course; nobody wants to get their quarterback killed out there. A year ago the rebuilding Dolphins were last, and I hate to see it but they might be last again.
It's not for lack of high draft picks. Miami selected Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt in the first two rounds last year, and Liam Eichenberg in the second round this year. Jackson and Hunt will definitely be starting, probably at the tackle spots, and Eichenberg might be -- either at guard, or at right tackle, with Hunt moving inside. Last year's fourth-rounder Solomon Kindley started most of last year at guard, and might again.
Miami did have a couple of veterans starting last year, Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras. Both of those guys are gone, with Flowers dealt back to Washington, and Karras let go in free agency. As far as arriving veterans, journeyman D.J. Fluker is a possibility to start somewhere. The one veteran pretty much certain to start is former Ravens center Matt Skura, replacing Karras.
However the starting five shake out, it looks like Miami will be paying its five starters a combined $9 million for the 2021 season. A couple of cheap veterans and three (if not four) first- or second-year guys on their rookie contracts. Overall, they're investing a total of $19.5 million in offensive line contracts this season. According to data from overthecap.com, only Minnesota is spending less on their line (and the Vikings will likely have a poor line, too).
|OFFENSIVE LINE SPENDING, 2021|
Money isn't everything. The Packers have one of the league's very best lines; it's cheap because everyone but David Bakhtiari is on his rookie contract. There will be some lines that are cheap yet top-performing. But Miami doesn't have a Bakhtiari, nor do they have an Elgton Jenkins, who just completed his second season as a Pro Bowl guard. The Dolphins have mostly unproven guys.
Perhaps all or most of these draft picks will hit, but it's difficult to look at what's in front of second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and feel like he's going to have a breakout year. I understand Miami is in a rebuild, but they'd better hope they're really good drafters. Personally, I don't expect I'll have many pieces of Miami's offense in fantasy leagues this year.