2017 NFL Draft: Two guards for Miami Dolphins radar

BOWLING GREEN, KY - NOVEMBER 27: Forrest Lamp #76 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in action against the Marshall Thundering Herd during the game at L.T. Smith Stadium on November 27, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Hilltoppers defeated the Herd 49-28. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Forrest Lamp of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers is one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala. — The Miami Dolphins have used three first-round draft choices in the last six years on offensive linemen. Miami has correctly prioritized offensive and defensive line in the draft and free agency and is hopeful first-rounders Mike Pouncey (15th overall, 2011), Ja’Wuan James (19th overall, 2014) and Laremy Tunsil (13th overall, 2016) will all stay healthy and excel in 2017.

If the Dolphins want to solidify the guard position for next season, there are two players with versatility, agility and strength worth strongly considering with the 22nd pick in the April draft: Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney of Indiana.

“We’re not on the highlights,” Feeney said of guards at the recent Senior Bowl. “We don’t make the one-handed catches, but if we have a good rushing day, no sacks given up, constant positive yards, I think that’s a good day for the o-line. Seeing a running back do that is a good day for us.”

The Dolphins realize quarterback Ryan Tannehill, like most NFL signal-callers, is much more successful when not under constant pressure (or, in other words, not taking a constant beating). So while it’s going to be tempting to snap up a defensive lineman or linebacker in the first round and delay guard considerations for later rounds or free agency, scouts view these two as solid bets for the next decade.

And, because Miami’s offensive identity last season became Jay Ajayi and a fierce, physical running game behind an improved offensive line, taking yet another lineman in the first round (or if one of these slips to the second) could be strategically sound.

Lamp had a standout college career at left tackle but projects to guard in the NFL. Many scouts have compared Lamp’s skill set to Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys (16th overall, 2014).

“Versatility adds value,” Lamp said. “They’ll only dress seven offensive lineman in the NFL. So if you can play all three positions, which is my goal eventually, you are really valuable to a team.”

When the Cowboys passed on more exciting players (see: Johnny Manziel) for Martin, it was an excellent decision based on their mindset to build a championship-caliber team along the lines first.

Lamp, 6-feet-4, 305 pounds, had a very strong performance for Western Kentucky against Alabama last season, which greatly improved his stock.

According to a scouting report by NFL.com, Lamp has “nimble feet,” “uses short, controlled punch in the run game,” has “clever hands in pass protection,” and “the athleticism to handle athletic interior rushers.”

Feeney, 6-feet-4, 304 pounds, played guard and tackle at Indiana, though he’s considered an NFL guard.

According to a scouting report by NFL.com, Feeney is a “tough guy with a banger mentality,” is “very aware of twists and blitzes,” with “lateral quickness,” plays with redirect power” and “will take it to the whistle and looks to finish with some menace.”

Feeney takes pride in the the scrapper reputation.

“I’m an effort-based kind of guy,” Feeney said. “I’m not the most talented or the most athletic. But I’ll fight. I’ll fight you every play and I’ll try to beat you every play.”

Lamp says his favorite position is left tackle but he’s ready to contribute as a professional at any position asked.

“My approach is just straight business,” Lamp said. “I like to watch film. I study the playbook. It’s straight business. You’re there to win.”

If the Dolphins add a guard in the early rounds, it may not be sexy or popular. But the guys in the trenches realize the chance of success without talented players in the trenches is slim.

“You’ve got to keep the quarterback safe,” Feeney said. ” You’ve got to open holes for the running back. I don’t think just one position on the o-line is important. It’s all five. We work as a unit, no matter how good or how bad we’re doing. It’s us five against the world.”

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