Words you like hearing from a coach about your team’s rookie first-rounder:
“He’s been very, very, very impressive. He’s every bit what we thought he was, which has a chance to be exceptional.”
That was Clyde Christensen, the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, talking about Laremy Tunsil, the 13th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Fair to say, then, that Tunsil’s transition from tackle to guard has gone well.
And that there hasn’t been a moment of buyer’s remorse for the Dolphins, who pounced on Tunsil after his infamous pot video mishap caused his draft-night slide down the board.
Tunsil, speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s OTA practice, said he has not yet heard from the NFL about any discipline for possible violations of the league’s drug policy. But even if he does, the Dolphins are confident he won’t miss any games this season.
Rather, they’re counting on him to be a starter — likely at left guard.
It’s a position Tunsil hasn’t played at any level. Growing pains aren’t just possible, they’re likely.
And yet …
“He works,” Christensen said. “He pays attention. He doesn’t make the same mistake over and over again, which you look for in a rookie. He leaves those meetings, goes, looks at it and comes on the field and it shows. I’ve been really impressed with him and, again, it’s still teach mode. It’s still a new position for him.”
Tunsil called the transition from tackle to guard “a process” — mainly, he’s now going against bigger and faster players. Since the day he was drafted, the Ole Miss standout has said he’s “here to help the team in any kind of way.”
And with Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James locked into left and right tackle, respectively, the only way Tunsil would be able to help the team this season is at guard.
The left guard job seems to be Tunsil’s to lose, but that obviously would change if Albert or James got injured. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said before the draft that their first-rounder would start, and Tunsil has shown nothing in the past month to dissuade the team of that.
“I knew he was athletic, but I think the guy is … it’s crazy how athletic he is,” said Jamil Douglas, who’s also in the mix at guard. “If you watch him play, how natural his movements are. He’s just an athletic guy, smart guy.”
If Dolphins players and coaches know Tunsil is good after just a month, the player surely does too.
But Tunsil has carried himself as just another rookie, said Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake, who went two rounds after Tunsil.
“He understands that he’s coming in just like everybody else to put the work in and to earn whatever spot that he needs to get,” Drake said. “You can talk to him about anything and I think that’s what I admire about him the most, because he’s very down-to-earth and you can talk to him about anything.”
Tunsil has done plenty of talking to his more experienced teammates.
The advice he’s gotten from Albert and Mike Pouncey? “Play full speed, even when you mess up. Play full speed.”
Tuesday was a stress test for Tunsil. The Dolphins’ practice defense was blitz-heavy and provided an array of exotic looks.
Tunsil didn’t panic, Christensen said.
“He’s an impressive, impressive rookie for this teach mode,” Christensen said. “And again we don’t need to start making a bust yet or anything because we haven’t put pads on, but as far as this phase he’s been exceptional.”