During the next several weeks, NFLDraftScout.com
will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2013 NFL Draft
in a series called "Finding the Fits
." The goal of the series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.
Miami Dolphins Best Fit: OL Dallas Thomas, Tennessee, 3rd Round, No. 77 overall.
It is perhaps appropriate that the Miami Dolphins used the 77th pick on highly versatile offensive lineman Dallas Thomas.
The former University of Tennessee standout could wind up replacing departed free agent left tackle Jake Long, who wore No. 77 during his five seasons with the club after earning the No. 1 overall selection of the 2008 draft.
With 25 starts at the all-important left tackle position already on his resume, Thomas gives the Dolphins a quality contingency plan should 2012 second round pick, Jonathan Martin
, struggle as Long's likely replacement protecting Ryan Tannehill
The Dolphins know what they have in Martin, who started all 16 games at tackle for the team as a rookie, including the final four on the left side when Long was sidelined with injury (triceps). Martin was solid but far from spectacular in his first season in the NFL and there was plenty of pre-draft speculation that general manager Jeff Ireland would continue his aggressive offseason by trading up to secure one of the top tackles in the 2013 draft. The Dolphins pursued a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for left tackle Branden Albert and continue to tinker with their offense after the draft, signing veteran Tyson Clabo to a one-year deal on May 5.
While the majority of Thomas' experience was at left tackle, he was moved inside to left guard as a senior, starting all 12 games there. This move, according to sources close to the Vols, was in part due to Thomas' strength and versatility and because the young man who replaced him Antonio Richardson
, a 6-6, 332-pound junior, is viewed as a potential blue-chip talent.
Whether at left tackle or as an upgrade to the tenacious (but athletically-limited) Richie Incognito at left guard, Thomas projects as a quality NFL starter.