The offensive lineman will move from left guard to left tackle this year to protect the blind side of Tannehill, who is coming off a sprained ACL and MCL. If one or both positions fail, that could sink Miami’s chances to improve on offense and return to the playoffs.
Miami showed plenty of faith in Tunsil by trading former Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville in March.
“It feels good to be at the natural spot I was drafted here for,” Tunsil said. “Playing left guard, I learned a lot. It was a different position, different everything. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play [guard] so I could learn the game inside and out.”
Tunsil believes playing guard in his rookie season will help him long term. It was a position he never played in college at Ole Miss, and now the second-year player is confident he can play four positions on the offensive line at the NFL level.
Albert was more than a teammate to Tunsil. The 10-year veteran also was a mentor. Tunsil entered the NFL under unique circumstances when his Twitter account was hacked moments before the draft and someone posted a video of Tunsil smoking a substance from a bong while wearing a gas mask. That likely caused Tunsil’s stock to drop from a likely top-five pick to being selected No. 13 overall by Miami. Albert was among the first players to mentor Tunsil and helped teach the former rookie how to be a pro.
Tunsil and Albert still keep in touch. Tunsil said the best advice Albert gave him was to be himself as a player and don’t try to model his game after Albert or anyone else.
“That was somebody I looked up to,” Tunsil said. “As soon as I came in, he took me in as a big brother. Seeing somebody gone like that is kind of sad, but it’s part of the business.”
Tunsil started 14 games -- 12 at guard and two at left tackle -- during a standout rookie season. However, the Dolphins are putting a lot more responsibility on his plate in Year 2 with the expectation that Tunsil will respond and take his game to new heights.
The Dolphins believed they drafted a long-term, franchise left tackle in Tunsil and the time to prove it begins now.
“I always kind of put pressure on myself to get better and always find something new to perfect,” Tunsil said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself just to be that guy, just to help everybody. I want to help everybody. I want to have that knowledge just to help everybody and help the rookies out.”