NFL teams that need offensive linemen: Here’s how the Dolphins, Bucs and other teams can address the issue

In the modern NFL, passing is king. Which means that the offensive line is also king, because your quarterback is generally not going to be able to have much success if he’s lying on his back after being sacked. It’s no secret that it’s become more and more difficult for teams to get quality offensive line play in recent seasons, which means that just a week before the 2020 NFL Draft, there are still plenty of teams that have obvious or glaring needs up front. 

Most of the veteran free agent market has been picked over already, but there are at least a few players who could conceivably be starter-quality still available: Jason Peters, Ronald Leary, Mike Iupati, Demar Dotson, Michael Schofield, and more. But perhaps the rest those players are still unsigned is because the draft seems stocked full of offensive line prospects who could potentially come in and be long-term answers — especially at tackle. 

With all that in mind, let’s take a look into a few teams who still clearly have needs to fill in front of their quarterbacks. 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are perhaps the team that most obviously needs a new anchor along the offensive line, and also the team best-positioned to land that player. Miami has three first-round picks: No. 5, 18, and 26. 

How they land that player probably depends on how they decide to approach the quarterback position. If Tua Tagovailoa is on their minds, then it’s unlikely they’ll be taking a tackle at No. 5; but if he’s not, then they could have their pick among the group of tackles that are generally considered the five best in the class: Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Josh Jones. 

In the unlikely event that none of those five players make it to No., 18, well, there’s still Austin Jackson, Ezra Cleveland, Isaiah Wilson, and more who could potentially be available at those spots and/or No. 39. Whatever else happens, the Dolphins seem incredibly likely to come away from the draft with at least one of those players. 

Cincinnati Bengals

We know with a degree of relative certainty that the Bengals will be drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. We know they’ll get Jonah Williams — last year’s first-rounder — back from injury this season, and that they signed Xavier Su’a-Filo to upgrade at one of the guard spots. But there’s still a need for more talent up front, and the Bengals should start thinking about adding a tackle in either the second or third round. The same group of players that could be under consideration for the Dolphins, should be under consideration for the Bengals. 

Houston Texans

The way the Texans have approached the offensive line during Deshaun Watson’s career is practically criminal. Even after trading for Laremy Tunsil (who has somehow still not been signed to an extension and probably has more contract leverage than any player in the league at the moment) and drafting Tytus Howard last season, this is still a pretty clearly below-average unit. The Texans do not have a first-round pick and thus don’t come on the clock until pick No. 40 (received from the Cardinals in the disastrous DeAndre Hopkins trade), but with two picks in the second round, they should be looking at both tackle and interior line prospects, depending on how they decide to approach Howard’s future. (He played tackle last season but could conceivably kick inside to guard.) 

Arizona Cardinals

After landing Hopkins in the aforementioned trade, the best thing the Cardinals can do to help Kyler Murray take the next step in his development is ensure that he is far better-protected than he was last season. He was one of the most-pressured quarterbacks in the NFL during his rookie season, and though some of that is because as a mobile quarterback he tends to hold the ball a bit longer than most as he tries to extend plays, a ton of it was due to the obvious lack of talent up front. With the No. 8 overall selection in their pockets, the Cards should be able to land a premier tackle to protect Murray for the next several seasons. On our mock draft hub, you’ll see that six of the seven experts have the Cardinals taking a tackle with that pick, with Wirfs and Wills being the most popular fits.

Cleveland Browns

Let’s just copy/paste the paragraph above but replace all references to “Kyler Murray” with “Baker Mayfield.” The Browns come on the board at No. 10 and like the Cardinals, seem like an obvious candidate to land one of the top tackles in the draft with that pick. Wirfs, Wills, Thomas, Becton, Jones, take your pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite promises that free agents would be flocking to Tampa Bay to follow Tom Brady, that has not really happened just yet. Joe Haeg is probably the most notable player they’ve signed since landing the GOAT, and he’s not exactly a realistic answer at right tackle, where the Bucs have an obvious hole. Tampa has the No. 14 overall pick and could be in a position to land one of the aforementioned top tackle prospects, but if there’s a run on tackles before they come on the clock, that might not be the best idea. Still, they should be highly interested in finding a tackle at some point, and if they can’t, they should give Dotson a call about coming back for one more season.

Los Angeles Chargers

After trading Russell Okung to the Panthers for Trai Turner, the Chargers opened up a need at the left tackle spot. Lucky for them, they have two top-40 picks and should be able to land one of the top tackle prospects, assuming they are as comfortable with Tyrod Taylor under center as they have publicly claimed to be. If they’re not, and thus decide to go move up for Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, then Jason Peters seems like an obvious call to make. 

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