In a series leading up to the start of Dolphins training camp later this month, The Finsiders will bring you positional breakdowns of each team in the AFC East.
During Monday’s show, The Finsiders discussed the offensive line position within the division. Here’s a quick primer regarding offensive lineman in the AFC East.
Projected Starters: Branden Albert, Dallas Thomas/Daryn Colledge, Sam Brenner/Nate Garner, Shelley Smith, Ja’Wuan James
Overview: The struggles regarding the Dolphins’ offensive line last season have been well documented. Giving up 58 sacks led to a complete revamp of the entire unit, and Mike Pouncey‘s reported injury means that the group will be composed of five new starters. At the tackle position, Miami will likely start Pro Bowl selection Branden Albert on the blind side, and first round selection Ja’Wuan James at right tackle. On the inside it gets a little bit more clouded because of Pouncey’s absence. Second year guard Dallas Thomas is likely to grab the left guard position, and free agent Shelley Smith starts at the other guard position, but may be moved inside to center, as he took reps at that position during OTAs with Pouncey gone. If Smith holds firm at guard, it likely becomes a competition at the center position between two guys that filled that spot last season in place of Pouncey in Sam Brenner and Nate Garner. There also could be potential for newly signed offensive lineman Daryn Colledge to compete for a starting position, either at guard of center.
New England Patriots
Projected Starters: Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell/Brian Stork, Dan Connolly/Josh Kline, Sebastian Vollmer
Overview: The interior of New England’s offensive line isn’t what it once used to be, but the Patriots are very strong on the outside. Two towering tackles flank either end of the men in front of Tom Brady in Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder. Both stand 6’8” and are effective in both pass and run blocking. Vollmer will be itching to get back on the field after a season ending injury against Miami in Week 8 last year. At left guard is longtime Patriots leader Logan Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro. The questions for New England are along the lines of last year’s starters at center and one of the guard spots. Both guard Dan Connolly and center Ryan Wendell struggled at times last season, and could be pushed for their starting jobs by Brian Stork, a fourth round pick out of Florida State, and Josh Kline, a 2013 undrafted free agent, respectively.
New York Jets
Projected Starters: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brian Winters, Nick Mangold, Willie Colon/Oday Aboushi , Breno Giacomini
Overview: The New York Jets return four starters from last season, with the lone player missing from last year’s lineup being Austin Howard, now playing for the Raiders. Starting at left tackle is former Pro Bowl selection D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who hasn’t missed a game in eight seasons. Playing right tackle and replacing Howard is former Seattle Seahawks tackle Breno Giacomini, who started nine games for the Super Bowl champs last season (he missed Weeks 4-10 due to knee surgery). At center is Jets stalwart Nick Mangold, a five time Pro-Bowler who has only missed two games in eight seasons. The lone competition for New York is at the guard spots, where it’s a fight between three guys for two positions with veteran Willie Colon going up against younger players Oday Aboushi and Brian Winters. Winters played in 16 games and started 12, while Aboushi was effectively redshirted last year.
Projected Starters: Cordy Glenn, Chris Williams, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik/Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio
Overview: Buffalo had the second-best offensive line in terms of rushing yardage last year, as the team ran for a combined 2,307 yards in 2013. The Bills bring back three starters from last year. Cordy Glenn will play the blind side once again, while Eric Wood stays at center. Both didn’t miss a game last year. The other starter from last year in Kraig Urbik could be pushed by fifth round pick Cyril Richardson, but likely holds the right guard spot. The two new additions to the offensive line are veteran guard Chris Williams, and Buffalo’s second round pick in former Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Both will be hoping to beef up a unit that struggled in the passing game, giving up 48 sacks, the 4th most in the league.
RELATED: Thomas Eyes Sophomore Season
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.