The Miami Dolphins seem to have full confidence in Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback moving forward, but some around the league are worried about his health.
Tagovailoa suffered two confirmed concussions last season, the second of which forced him to miss the team’s lone playoff game. The University of Alabama product recently admitted that he even contemplated retiring last season, but he ultimately decided against it and seems to be locked in ahead of his fourth NFL season.
While speaking about Miami’s small 2023 draft class, one unnamed NFL executive expressed a belief that Tagovailoa won’t hold up behind the team’s offensive line.
“Their whole thing hinges on what they get from the quarterback,” the exec said, according to Mike Sando of The Athletic. “They have enough to score points if they have a quarterback who can operate the offense. Their Achilles heel is their offensive line is very limited, and because of it, whoever is standing back there gets hit, and this particular quarterback is not going to hold up.”
The Dolphins only made a total of four selections in the 2023 NFL Draft. They picked defensive back Cam Smith in the second round, running back Devon Achane in the third round, Elijah Higgins (played wide receiver in college but was announced as a tight end after getting drafted) in the sixth round and offensive tackle Ryan Hayes in the seventh and final round.
Hayes isn’t the most hyped prospect out there, but he does have some solid strengths that could help him earn some playing time this coming season.
“Two-year starter at left tackle for a unit that won consecutive Joe Moore Awards (best offensive line in college football),” wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. “He’s tall and plays with good technique and strong hands, but Hayes is missing functional length as a tackle. He tough at the point of attack and gets into space with athletic movements but he plays with a slightly elevated pad level that could slow a transition inside to guard. He’s solid in pass protection, but he plays with an average anchor and might not have the range to keep speed rushers from tormenting the pocket. He could become an average player at tackle or guard in the pros.”
Offensive line has been a weakness for Miami over the past few seasons. Last offseason, it went out and signed Terron Armstead and Connor Williams in an effort to fix things up front.
That undoubtedly helped, but there’s still some question marks along the offensive line. Right tackle is an interesting spot, with Austin Jackson expected to start the season as the starter at that position. He’s been inconsistent throughout his entire career, and that’s resulted in the Dolphins not picking up his fifth-year option.
He might be very motivated to do well in what seems to be like a make-or-break season for him.
Only time will tell how the Dolphins’ offensive linemen perform in the upcoming season. Much of the team’s hopes hinge on Tagovailoa remaining healthy throughout the entire campaign, something he’s been unable to do so far in his young professional career.
With lots of big moves already made this offseason, expectations in South Florida are high once again.