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Dolphins go OL in Mel Kiper’s first 2024 NFL mock draft

As the Miami Dolphins, like many other teams at this point in the calendar, flip the page to the 2024 season, NFL mock drafts are coming out at a furious pace.

Some of the big names in the mock draft space have begun releasing their first editions, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who did so on Tuesday.

In his mock draft, he has the Dolphins selecting Washington guard Troy Fautanu with pick No. 21.

Here’s what Kiper had to say about the potential selection:

“The Dolphins could lose two starting offensive linemen in free agency, as center Connor Williams and right guard Robert Hunt are scheduled to hit the market in March. They also likely will have limited cap space, particularly with the potential of Tua Tagovailoa getting a big extension. Why not add an O-line replacement here? There’s room to improve, as Miami ranked 31st in pass block win rate (49.2%).

Fautanu started 31 career games for the Huskies, spending most of his time at left tackle. I see his future at guard, however, as his 6-foot-4, 317-pound frame and playing style fit on the interior. He allowed two career sacks on nearly 1,250 pass-blocking snaps. It wouldn’t shock me if a team drafted Fautanu to play tackle, but I see All-Pro upside for him at guard.”

Drafting an interior lineman isn’t the sexiest pick, especially with Miami trading away their recent first-round selections to acquire some star veterans, but it’s absolutely a direction that general manager Chris Grier and company should consider.

In 2023, a big reason for the Dolphins’ struggles down the stretch was the play of their interior offensive line which was marred by injuries. Playing a rookie like Fautanu, who would be moving inside, much like Isaiah Wynn did this past year before suffering a season-ending injury, would likely produce better results than running out Lester Cotton and Robert Jones every week.

So, while many will be looking for the Dolphins to make a big splash again in April, they might be wiser to walk slowly into the shallow end of the pool instead and bring in an interior lineman who could both protect your potential franchise quarterback and provide some push for your stable of productive backs.

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire