With most of the Miami Dolphins’ key 2021 additions presumably set in stone, the team must now brace for the upcoming storm that is training camp. The Dolphins are expected to host a competitive camp, with plenty of positions available for the taking and the stakes higher than ever before in the Brian Flores and Chris Grier era of the team. But which battles are shaping up to be the most competitive?
That depends on who you ask. The nickel cornerback position is one; but the Dolphins offer ample depth there in the secondary and the team’s defense was the identity of the team last season. There will be no quarterback battle on offense this season, but one of the other primary positions is up for grabs in the blindside tackle position. And that, according to the folks at Pro Football Focus, is the battle to watch.
“Battle to watch: Right tackle
Robert Hunt is expected to kick inside to right guard with fellow 2020 draftee Solomon Kindley replacing Ereck Flowers on the left side. That opens an opportunity for Jesse Davis, D.J. Fluker and Liam Eichenberg to compete for the starting right tackle job.
Davis and Fluker have the benefit of starting NFL experience, but Eichenberg’s consistent technique should allow him to contribute out of the gates. He’s coming off an 89.9 PFF grade at left tackle with Notre Dame in 2020.” — Pro Football Focus
Indeed, this head to head (to head) showdown figures to offer plenty of intrigue. It is difficult to envision Davis, who has collected over 90% of the Dolphins’ snaps on offense in each of the last three seasons, winning out on the job, however. If Davis were a starting caliber lineman, at some point the Dolphins’ investments into the position would have tapered off. But yet Miami added both Fluker and Eichenberg this offseason, hardly the endorsement for Davis as a starter.
Pro Football Focus credits Davis with 34 pressures allowed last season — a top-25 figure in the entire NFL. With 220 offensive lineman qualifying with at least 20% of their pass sets taken on the season, Davis’ protection isn’t up to snuff.
Fluker’s protection numbers in 2020 after stepping in at right tackle to take over for Orlando Brown Jr. in Baltimore after an injury to Ronnie Stanley were even less impressive. He allowed 26 pressures on the season but did so in just over 250 snaps. He’s better suited for interior play at this stage in his career and posted comfortably better numbers in 2018 & 2019 with Seattle as the team’s primary right guard.
That leaves the rookie, Liam Eichenberg, to contend for this job as a high-ceiling option. And given Miami’s willingness to trade up to get him, it would seem as though the team is ready to give him every shot to win the “battle to watch”.