Dolphins’ Offensive Line: Surprises and Change

Photo courtesy of Mark Brown/ Getty Images

Coming into training camp the Dolphins’ offensive line was all but set in stone. It was presumed that Jackson and Eichenberg would play tackle with Kindley, Skura and Hunt on the interior. However, after one week of camp practice much has changed. Some have used their versatility to change positions along the line, while others have drastically fallen down the depth chart. With the offensive line a key factor in Tua’s development, who is performing and whose stock is tumbling?

The Presumed Starters Before Camp:

Austin Jackson (LT)

The Good:

Throughout the first week of training camp Jackson looked strong and capable. Having detailed some of my concerns regarding Jackson in one of my previous articles, the early days of camp are promising, especially in terms of his run blocking. Such developments are very welcome after Jackson ranked 76th among 83 tackles in run blocking in 2020.

The Bad:

Overall, relative to the rest of the line Jackson is making some of the necessary improvements to build on his game. With run blocking and footwork a big drawback in his game last season, it is encouraging to see that he is beginning to address them. With only a couple of padded practices in the bag I will look to Jackson to continue to improve on these fundamentals.

Solomon Kindley (LG)

The Bad:

Since finishing the season as one of the best run blocking linemen on the roster, no player has had a bigger fall than Solomon Kindley, who as it stands is a mere camp body. Kindley started camp as the starting left guard, however in the week following he has since been demoted to the second team and then to the third team where he remains to this day.

From being a big guy, starting in the NFL and to an extent holding his own, to being knocked down by third team defensive linemen, Kindley is having a horrible training camp

Speculation has been rife across Twitter regarding the reason behind his fall from grace. The answer is nobody actually knows. Despite initial reports about his weight being too high around 340 lb, Kindley stated that conditioning was not an issue and that he reported at the weight that the Dolphins expected.

This is perhaps one of the most disappointing developments of the whole offseason, following what was a fairly solid rookie season. Kindley now has an huge mountain to climb back up the depth chart. With each practice the starting line builds chemistry and cohesion making it harder for Kindley if he can bounce back, to claim his starting job back.

Matt Skura (C)

To the relief of Kindley he is not the only player who has had a difficult camp. All fans were aware that Skura is by no means a polished product, nor would he answer all of the problems at center. Nevertheless, he was deemed by many to be a solid starting center who just needed to address his snapping issues that he endured last season.

The Good:

Throughout camp we have heard no reports of any botched snaps, which will be a relief to many fans and to Skura. In fact it was Deiter who had a couple of wild snaps which thankfully Tua managed to salvage. In addition, he has showed good drive and determination to get up field and make blocks in the second level.

The Bad:

Despite signing in free agency to be the presumed starter, throughout the entire of training camp that job has fallen to Michael Deiter. Skura has spent the majority camp snapping the ball to Jacoby Brissett in the second team. However, Skura has since been demoted to the third team with Cameron Tom taking second team reps since the first day of padded practice.

All hope is not lost on Skura, while Deiter has had a great start to camp firing out of his stances with good explosion, he remains an unknown at center in the NFL. Given the turnover at left guard, I would not be totally surprised to see a report over the next week with Deiter playing left guard where he flourished in his sole appearance in 2020 with Skura back at center if he can bounce back.

Robert Hunt (RG)

The Good:

To make it simple, Robert Hunt has been by far the best member of the Dolphins’ offensive line, although not perfect. Hunt has started as he ended last season, continuing to improve and not afraid to get those “groovy nails” dirty. Hunt has the physical stature and strength to be able to move the biggest of players on the interior of the Dolphins’ offensive line where he is predicted to be a potential pro-bowler.

“There’s not really a big difference. I can say there’s some heavier bodies in there. There are some fat guys in there. I haven’t played it in a while, but I’m starting to get used to it. I got a couple reps in the spring and I’ve been getting some this week at guard. It’s going well.”

Robert Hunt when asked about the move inside to guard

The Bad:

As previously mentioned, Hunt has not been perfect and more best of the rest. Although a false start in camp is not too big of an issue, we all know about the takes no talent philosophy that Brian Flores preaches. In addition, there were reports of Hunt being dominated by Sieler during the early days of camp. As with all offensive linemen it is hoped that as camp progresses the Dolphins’ offensive line will be able to overcome the advantage that the defensive line typically have at the start of camp.

Liam Eichenberg (RT)

The Good:

Eichenberg has demonstrated his flexibility and versatility from the outset. Following the rapid decline in Solomon Kindley’s performances Eichenberg has shifted inside to be the starting left guard. Any hopes of Eichenberg being a lock at right tackle are at this point out of the window.

While it is true that it is still extremely early coming into camp, over the course of the next week, Brian Flores and Coach Jeanpierre will want to gain some answers sooner rather than later. Following the move to left guard it has been Jesse Davis who has filled the available slot at right tackle. Furthermore, it does not appear that Eichenberg will move back out to tackle any time soon. With Davis not practicing this week, it was 7th round pick Larnel Coleman who took reps at right tackle. Nevertheless, Eichenberg remains a starter.

With D J Fluker parting ways with the organisation via injury settlement, there are question marks at RT if the team is hit with injuries.

The Bad:

Coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft, Eichenberg was considered an NFL ready prospect. However, as is the case with all rookies there is inevitably some teething problems along the way. So far from what has been reported Eichenberg has given up a would be sack on Tua from Jaelan Phillips. In addition, during one on one drills he was repeatedly bullied by Adam Butler.

Conclusion

In summary, the first week of practice has been very up and down for the Dolphins’ offensive line. Where players struggle for whatever reason, all important roster spots and depth positions are there for the taking. Following week one of camp the starting line is: Jackson (LT), Eichenberg (LG), Deiter (C), Hunt (RG) and Davis (RT). Unfortunately, as fans we are left scratching our heads as to what has happened. We can only hope for clarity going forward. Fins Up!

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