Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins summon another high-end guard to team headquarters

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Greer and VP Mike Tannenbaum talk to the media about the upcoming season and the NFL draft at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Miami, Florida, April 19, 2017.
Miami Dolphins GM Chris Greer and VP Mike Tannenbaum talk to the media about the upcoming season and the NFL draft at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Miami, Florida, April 19, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins know they need to add a guard this weekend but ideally prefer not to do it in the first round if appealing defensive options are available.

But they also, ideally, would like to add a guard who’s good enough to immediately compete with Ted Larsen and Jermon Bushrod to start.

Among a few they’ve taken a strong interest in: Pittsburgh’s Dorian Johnson, who’s widely projected as a second-day pick (rounds two or three).

Per a league source, the Dolphins summoned Johnson to team headquarters before prospect visits ended league wide last Thursday.

Johnson was second-team All-ACC as a junior, starting 13 games at left guard, and was first-team in 2016.

Here is Lance Zierlein’s assessment of Johnson on NFL.com:

Overall: Johnson was a five-star recruit as a tackle coming out of high school, but Pitt coaches convinced him that a move to guard made sense for the team -- and for his future. They were right. Since his freshman year, when he started twice at left tackle and once at right guard, Johnson has been a fixture at the left guard position. He started 39 straight games for the Panthers, winning second-team All-ACC honors as a junior as well as first-team all-conference and multiple All-American awards in 2016.

Strengths: “Solid athlete when asked to play in space. Plays with leg drive as run blocker. Uses choppy, accelerated feet into contact and keeps chopping them through contact to secure the block. Operates with quality balance and limited waist-bending. Has the arm length of a tackle. Understands his job on each play. Has an accurate radar in seeking out second-level targets and connecting at a high percentage. Excels on short pulls with smooth lateral footwork and solid, squared contact. Keeps hands inside and will punch and re-set hands when necessary. Sets up with good base and anchor in pass pro.”

Weaknesses: “Is little inconsistent with smoothness coming out of his stance. At times too aggressive when he moves up to second level and will climb beyond his target.”

Zierlein’s bottom line: “Five-star prospect coming out of high school, Johnson was a full-time starter for three years at Pitt and was known for his consistency and well-rounded game. He has functional power to turn defenders out of the hole and enough athleticism to match any run-game scheme. Johnson doesn't carry bad weight and should be able to add more bulk with no problem. While he has some weaknesses, nothing appears to be glaring and he should set into a starter's role right away and become a solid NFL guard.”

One NFL scout told Zierlein that Johnson is “hard-nosed and smart. I like everything about him -- his length, his frame, his toughness, his durability, his consistency. Ten-year starter in the league."

Teams are permitted to bring 30 non-local players to their headquarters to meet with coaches and executives, and as I’ve reported, Miami brought at least three: Johnson, Utah’s Isaac Asiata (a potential mid-round pick) and Western Michigan guard/tackle Taylor Moton.

The Dolphins also have closely studied and visited with UM guard Danny Isidora, among others.

Though Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp has been linked to Miami, he wouldn’t be the Dolphins’ preference at No. 22, as colleague Armando Salguero reported.

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