Dolphins Offensive line, linebacking corps key areas for improvement in 2017

The move by the Miami Dolphin front office to trade Branden Albert shows that they are looking to improve their team for the 2017 season. 2016 starting Offensive Guard Laremy Tunsil will now move back to his natural position of left tackle and will be an improvement over the oft-injured Albert. But, as per an article on, the Dolphin offensive line will now have both starting guard spots empty because the team will not retain Right Guard Jermon Bushrod (both backups Jake Brendel and Kraig Urbik aren't ready to start).

The Dolphins offensive line in 2016 produced three 200-yard rushing games by running back Jay Ajayi and improvements in the unit cut in half the total sacks allowed to quarterback Ryan Tannehill (58 in 2013, 29 in 2016,). This was one of the main reasons for the team's 10 win season and their first appearance in the playoffs since 2008.  In Free Agency, Packers guard T.J. Lang will be available at a heavy price tag with other guards like the Vikings Brandon Fusco, the Jaguars Luke Joeckel, the Titans Chance Warmack and the Cowboys Ron Leary also available for purchase (as per The Dolphins only have $22 million in cap space (8th lowest number in the league as per the Daily Dolphin blog ) so adding important depth may be a good option rather than getting a solid starter. 

Linebackers also need help

The linebacking corps also is an important area that demands focus during the draft and free agency periods.The Dolphins can complete, with the acquisition of a linebacker through free agency or the draft, a good "up the middle" defense similar to a baseball team that has a strong catcher, second baseman, shortstop and centerfielder.  This area has suffered in productivity since 2012, when Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett were let go for "younger, faster" free agents, Dannell Ellerbee and Phillip Wheeler. Both Ellerbee and Wheeler were big mistakes and the unit has suffered to find any consistency since.

Starting linebackers Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins, although injured in 2016, have had sporadic but limited success on defense and have been overshadowed by safeties Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus who have been the defacto "best linebackers" on the team. Abdul-Quddus was second on the team with 78 total tackles in 2016, Jones has been the team's best defender and an All-Pro. Linebackers available in free agency may be very expensive and mock drafts have the Dolphins picking Temple linebacker Hasson Riddick or UCLA's Takkarist McKinley.