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Analyzing Jonathan Martin As A Left Tackle
By on April 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

MartinThe Dolphins depth chart is coming into focus a bit as the late free agency period bleeds into the lead up to this month’s draft.

The offensive line picture remains murky, however, as the team shuffles things around heading into the 2013 season.

Newly signed guard Lance Louis, if he can come back from an ACL tear, may push John Jerry for playing time; Jerry could, potentially, play outside; Nate Garner and Will Yeatman will have to-be-determined roles; most importantly, though, will be Jonathan Martin‘s expected transition to left tackle.

Joe Philbin wouldn’t commit to Martin at left tackle last month at the NFL owners meetings — the roster could be different by the time practices start, he said — but, after a four-game dry run, Martin is certainly the most likely candidate currently on the roster.

Former Dolphins Pro Bowl guard and current Finsiders analyst Keith Sims thinks Martin’s NFL home is on the left side.

“I like Jonathan Martin as a long-term answer at left tackle, seeing him play last year all 16 games, started 12, I believe, at right and four at left tackle,” Sims said. “He was much more comfortable. Things came so much more naturally, it was fluid for him. He worked hard last year to be a right tackle and he was a decent right tackle. I think his body type and his athleticism is more geared to be that left tackle.”

During his rookie season, Martin was as advertised, an athletic, intelligent player that adjusted nicely to playing, perhaps, slightly out of position on the right side of the Dolphins’ offensive line. He was a left tackle at Stanford, protecting Andrew Luck‘s blindside, though he was projected as a candidate to play either spot during last year’s pre-draft process.

So, with Jake Long injuring his triceps late in the 2012 season, Martin got a shot to swing back over to the left side, starting the final four games at left tackle. Some will likely go as far as saying it was a job interview, especially with the eventual departure of Long. Regardless, Martin entered the offseason looking to bulk up a bit. Asked what we was looking to work on during his “exit interview” with The Finsiders, a day after the team’s season-ending 28-0 loss in New England, Martin’s response was quick and direct: get stronger.

Sims agrees, but not at the expense of losing a step.

“Does he need to get stronger? Absolutely,” Sims said. “But he was definitely more fluid in his pass sets on the left side. His frame and his athleticism bode well in what the Dolphins want to do in the zone-blocking scheme. You don’t have to be the big, hulking guy. You’ve got to have good feet and be able to move and get to the second level, and Jonathan Martin can do that from the left side.”

In the months to come Joe Philbin — a former offensive line coach, most recently with Green Bay — and offensive line coach Jim Turner will work to find the right five-man combo. Position notwithstanding, Philbin says that Martin’s strength isn’t a big concern, though he wouldn’t be opposed to the second-year tackle adding some muscle.

“I think he’s strong enough, but, our hope too is that, because of his age, there’s still room for further growth and development,” Philbin said. “I think he’s demonstrated, there’s enough film clips of him doing it right, doing it well, doing it consistently that you think he has enough strength.”

More offensive line talk with NFL Network’s Shaun O’Hara

Please Note:
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.

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