Barry Jackson

Dolphins summon guard with “chance to become a reliable NFL starter”

The Dolphins, permitted to invite no more than 30 non-local draft prospects for visits at team headquarters, are using a few on guards.

Among them, according to a source: Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton.

Moton, a two-star prospect coming out of high school in Michigan in 2012, has well exceeded those Rivals.com expectations.

According to NFL.com, “the Broncos brought aboard Moton after he was named a first-team all-Michigan pick as a high school senior. He redshirted in 2012, but started every game over the past four years for WMU. Moton lined up at right tackle for all 25 games of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

“He moved to right guard in 2015, receiving enough votes from MAC coaches to be named third-team all-conference. Moton moved back to the right tackle spot as a senior, earning first-team All-MAC and multiple All-American honors in helping the Broncos "row the boat" to a MAC championship.”

Among his strengths, according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “Massive frame with good arm thickness and proportional build in his legs. Plus arm length with big hands. Starting experience at right guard and tackle.”

Among his weaknesses, per Zierlein: “Will need to play with quicker hands into punch as guard. Looping, wide approach with hands toward target could open his chest to defenders. Footwork needs plenty of work. Needs choppier feet. Waist bending in run game needs correction.”

Zierlein quotes an NFC scout saying this about Moton: "I had to go back and watch his 2015 tape when he played guard. He was a little rough at tackle this year but that isn't his spot. Big and strong as a guard. He was moving guys from Ohio State around like it was nothing."

Zierlein’s bottom line: “Four-year starter for ascending Western Michigan program. Size and potential to dominate at the point of attack with pure power should make him a coveted right guard prospect. He can be a little stiff in his movements and his footwork needs plenty of work, but he's functional in both areas. Might need additional work before he is ready to take on the wily, athletic defensive tackles in the NFL, but his physical traits and power give him a chance to become a reliable NFL starter.”

The Dolphins have spent a lot of time with several guard prospects, but the only other one I’ve confirmed has been invited to take a “30-visit” here was Utah’s Isaac Asiata, potential second-day pick, as I detailed here last week.

There quite possibly are other guards on the way to Davie, though Miami’s 30 visits seem to be dominated by defensive players.

Whoever the Dolphins select at guard will compete with Ted Larsen and Jermon Bushrod for a starting job and work with Dolphins’ second-year offensive line coach Chris Foerster (pictured above during his previous Dolphins stint as Dave Wannstedt’s offensive coordinator).

WILLIAMS VISITS

The New England Patriots hosted Dolphins running back Damien Williams on a free-agent visit on Wednesday.

The Dolphins offered Williams an original round tender for $1.8 million, but he hasn’t signed it. If New England makes an offer, the Dolphins have five days to match but would receive no compensation if they don’t.

Safety Michael Thomas also remains a restricted free agent.

The deadline for restricted free agents to sign tenders is April 21. If no offers are made/signed by then, they will return to the Dolphins, with their salaries guaranteed for $1.8 million.

Asked last month about the not-very-likely chance the Dolphins could lose Williams, Adam Gase said: “I’m aware of it. I’m not going to push him to anybody. You guys know I love Damien in every asset. When that guy steps on the field, he’s all football.”

Here’s my post on a candidate for Miami’s pick at No. 22 who came to team offices this week to meet with coaches and executives.

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