He will enter his fifth consecutive year as Miami’s starter in September. But many questions have emerged after Tannehill went 6-10 as a starter to cap four consecutive non-winning seasons.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. delved into this subject during his recent conference call with NFL Nation reporters. I asked Kiper about his projection of Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley going to the Dolphins with the No. 8 pick, and he explained that the decision is all about getting the best out of Tannehill in 2016.
“This is basically the year. This is the judgment year for Tannehill,” Kiper said. “So either get it done or no more excuses. He’s had coaches come through, coordinators, everything. He has to start getting it done on a consistent basis. So you figure, ‘OK, let’s help out the offensive line and find some hole-fillers down the road in other spots.’”
Interestingly the Dolphins have two solid offensive tackles already in the fold. Left tackle Branden Albert played well while fighting through injuries and made his second Pro Bowl. Ja'Wuan James is a 2014 first-round pick who has been mostly consistent at right tackle. The issue is both players were injured last year and missed 11 combined games. Former backup tackle Jason Fox struggled filling in for Albert and James, which impacted the offense and Tannehill.
Stanley would provide depth on the O-line, and likely force James to move to guard to help fill another weakness. Guard is a position James has never played in the NFL, and he would need time to adjust this offseason. But current guards Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas all struggled in 2015.
In addition, Stanley is considered one of the safer picks in this draft in terms of athleticism, position and character. ESPN analyst and former NFL personnel executive Louis Riddick recently said Stanley “makes it look so easy."
Kiper said UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Stanley are two top options for the Dolphins in the first round. Stanley would be good value for Miami if he falls to No. 8, according to Kiper.
“Some people think Stanley is the best left tackle in this draft even ahead of [Laremy] Tunsil,” Kiper said. “If you poll 10 different people, seven would say Tunsil, three would say Stanley. So Stanley is going to get some votes. So if you get arguably the best left tackle at No. 8, that’s a pretty good pick.”