Though he had the pedigree — a 2010 Pro Bowl selection — Tyson Clabo had not been the hot name in the Dolphins’ offseason tackle search. His size (329 pounds), many observers thought, would not make him an ideal fit in the Dolphins’ zone blocking scheme. But while some waited on a draft-day trade for a tackle that never came, the Dolphins continued to look at the veteran right tackles available, including Clabo, and eventually decided that the former Falcon was a good fit.
What some may have overlooked prior to his signing was that Clabo had, indeed, played in a zone blocking scheme in Denver and early on in Atlanta. He recently told The Finsiders that, despite the Falcons’ move away from the zone scheme, he’d be able to pick it back up quickly.
“Everybody runs zone – we just didn’t do it exclusively,” Clabo said. “I feel like I’ve run just about every blocking scheme imaginable in my nine years, so I feel like hopefully I can continue to do that.”
With the a long of list of free agents and a couple of blue-chip prospects available in the draft, the tackle market developed slowly. Clabo, in fact, was a wild card, thrown into the mix only after the Falcons opted to part ways with him in a cost-cutting move. He immediately scoped out a few potential destinations, though it was mostly guesswork, he admitted, because team’s weren’t ready to make a committment prior to the draft, the Dolphins included.
The team continued to be judicious in its search, examining trade possibilities before ultimately deciding to draft Dallas Thomas, a tackle out of Tennessee in the third round.
This only kept the ball rolling, though, with the team then lining up visits with several of the still-available tackles to see them in person.
“It became pretty obvious that nothing was going to happen before the draft,” Clabo said. “So, of course, who needed a tackle changed.
“…Mr. Ireland called and said they wanted to bring me down on a visit. After that, I was excited. I was excited when the phone rang, and I was excited when I left because I knew that everyone seemed like this was a place that I want to be.”
Players, especially impending free agents, pay attention to what teams are doing in free agency. An aggressive few months could indicate a team is in a “win-now” mode, something that could be enticing for a player whose professional clock is ticking. As the Dolphins continued to add pieces, Clabo noticed that they were doing “big things.”
“That a lot of times is how young teams can get over the hump,” Clabo said. “I know that last year we had some really tough loses, some close ones. If you just win half of those, you’re in double digit wins. So it doesn’t take much to go from a non-playoff to a playoff team. I’ve seen that with my time in Atlanta.”
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