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Miami Dolphins 2024 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line

The Miami Dolphins offensive line head into 2024 training camp with a lot of uncertainties after departures of key pieces from last season.
miami dolphins training camp

The Miami Dolphins’ starting offensive line was a silent factor in the success of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and its running game in 2023. Behind left tackle Terron Armstead, left guard Liam Eichenberg, center Connor Williams, right guard Robert Hunt, and right tackle Austin Jackson, the Dolphins finished with 2,308 rushing yards and gave Tagovailoa enough time in the pocket to lead the NFL in passing yards.

Miami’s 2023 offensive line kept pressure away as the first-string quarterback experienced pressure on 15.7 of his passes that season, according to Pro Football Reference. In the rushing game, the Dolphins’ offensive line finished with the eighth-best run-blocking unit in the league with a 72% run-blocking win rating.

Despite these impressive feats in protection, Miami couldn’t keep their top men in the trenches intact for another year. Hunt signed a five-year, $200 million deal with the Carolina Panthers while Williams is unlikely to re-sign with Miami.

The Dolphins 2024 offensive line will see the return of a Pro Bowl veteran and two starting guards for training camp. The main concern at the moment is finding a way to replace Hunt and Williams’ production — and fast.

Miami Dolphins 2024 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line

Wynn, Eichenberg Both Fight for the Left Guard

After two offsetting seasons to open his professional career in Miami, Eichenberg played through 815 snaps and appeared in 79% of games available in 2023. The Notre Dame alum’s performance last season was an obvious improvement in pass blocking. Eichenberg recorded only five offensive penalties, including only one holding and a false start. These career-low numbers at 25 years old provide the 306-pound tackle insurance heading into camp as the former first-string left guard.

However, offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn can be a challenger to Eichenberg out of the gates of training camp. The five-year veteran was picked up during the 2023 free agency period by Miami last spring and adjusted quickly into the left guard role. Previously, Wynn started his NFL career as a tackle on the offensive line for the New England Patriots. He was placed as the opening-week starter over Eichenberg. 

Last season marked the first time that Wynn played at guard since college. The former Georgia Bulldog played well at left guard for the Dolphins before suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury in week seven of 2023. Wynn was a part of 392 snaps in the O-line and started in all seven games played. Eichenberg took over the starting position in Wynn’s absence.

This year’s training camp will be a tough decision for offensive line coach Butch Barry. Both candidates for the left guard showed remarkable upside in each half of the season when they were active. This battle will be fairly close, and a top discussion throughout camp.

Armstead’s Decision to Return Helps Dolphins Toward Camp

Armstead’s decision to return to the Dolphins’ offensive line was one of the biggest victories that Miami made in the offseason. The 10-year NFL vet contemplated retirement heading into this offseason but decided to return after some time of thought. Armstead originally signed with Miami on a five-year, $75 million contract in 2022. 

That deal was changed after renegotiations this offseason between the 33-year-old tackle and the organization for Armstead to agree to a $4.25 million pay cut. His new contract also includes a $7.29 million signing bonus and reduced his 2024 cap charge by $10.29 million, according to Over The Cap. The availability and sacrifice by Armstead made it possible for the Dolphins to restructure their roster and sign players this offseason.

On top of the financial support, the 6-foot-5-inch offensive lineman will be the most experienced tackle in the building. Armstead can be a veteran leader to help a fairly young offensive tackle room. One of these young tackles in training camp this season is Miami’s 55th overall pick from the 2024 NFL Draft, Patrick Paul.

Paul Is the Rookie to Watch

Paul is a monster. Standing at six-foot-seven-inches and 315 pounds, the Houston, Texas, native is a rookie who will be under supervision throughout camp. Paul spent the last four years with the Houston Cougars. Throughout that span, the left tackle garnered multiple First-Team All-American Athletic Conference honors, started in more than half of his collegiate career, and posted career-high numbers in pass blocking each year.

Paul ended his time at UH with the fourth-highest career pass block grade (90.2) among all NFL draft-eligible offensive linemen in his class. In all of his 2,968 snaps played with Houston, the newest Dolphin always played at left tackle. Paul’s pass-blocking efficiency hasn’t dropped below 98.0 since his redshirt freshman year in 2020.

Miami’s second-round pick will be under the wing of Armstead and nine-year veteran tackle Kendall Lamm. The duo combines for more than 20 years of league experience that will benefit Paul as he gets underway through his first NFL training camp.

Williams’ Replacement Can Emerge

The Dolphins need a center. Williams’ agent Drew Rosenhaus said that Miami’s starting center in 2023 would be open to returning to the Dolphins, but it is unlikely that he will do so with the addition of offensive lineman Aaron Brewer. Williams transitioned to center after joining Miami in 2022 after four years at left guard with the Dallas Cowboys. The All-Texas lineman has been an NFL staple for the modern man in the trenches.

Williams’ athleticism and versatility allow him to execute reach blocks and get out in space. The six-foot-five-inch traditional guard started at center for the 2022 season — working close with Tagovailoa for the past two seasons until he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a Week 14 loss against the Tennessee Titans. Williams ended the season placed on injured reserve.

Across the field on the same night of Williams’ season-defining injury, Brewer was a starter for Tennessee en route to his second straight losing season. The 2020 undrafted rookie free agent has spent his entire career with the Titans. Like Williams, Brewer played multiple positions on the offensive line while developing into a usual starter. The six-foot-one-inch center was a part of every offensive snap over Tennessee’s past 34 games — 19 of them as the first-string center.

With Miami considered a contender, and four years of experience under his belt, Brewer has the opportunity to shine as the unanimous center. Unless Williams decides to return before the Dolphins’ 2024 training camp on July 28, it’ll be hard to find another candidate to take the job. However, Eichenberg did play at center after Williams’ injury last season.

Jackson Enters Year Five as O-Line Anchor

The Dolphins’ 2020 NFL Draft first-round selection quickly progressed last season as a real long-term piece for Miami’s future. After a rocky first few years in the NFL, Jackson found footing with a well-coached offensive line in 2023 and appeared in a career-high 96% of all offensive snaps for the Dolphins.

The six-foot-five-inch tackle from the University of Southern California started the most out of any Miami offensive lineman last season with 16 games. Jackson performed well in his protection of Tagovailoa. He only allowed four sacks in 2023 through 989 snaps. His contributions that season earned him a three-year, $36 million extension in the middle of the season.

Jackson’s durability and young age make him a rare commodity in the NFL. The USC alum will turn 25 in August while a few rookies in camp will either be older or the same age. With youth on his side, Jackson’s progression can continue to reach its peak in 2024.

The Mystery at Right Guard

The biggest question mark toward training camp is the hole at the right guard position. Hunt was the outright starter last season, but his departure allows many offensive guards an opportunity to step to the plate. Offensive lineman Lester Cotton, the backup right guard behind Hunt in 2023, has the best leverage with having experience with Miami on that side of the line.

Dolphins’ 2021 undrafted rookie free agent Robert Jones comes behind Cotton heading into camp as he started in 13 of 32 games throughout his career in Miami. However, he only started three of those games at right guard and usually occupies the left side of the line when available.

Jones and Cotton will battle it out to see who exactly will work beside Jackson on the right side of the offensive line. If anything is for certain, the offensive lineman heading into training camp will be working in a frenzy with so many positions available. There are few, if not any guarantees this offseason.

Main Image: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports


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