The 2016 NFL draft had perhaps the most unpredictable first round in recent years. Analysts both of the fan and professional variety were regularly caught off guard by the picks being made and several highly-ranked prospects dropped right out of the first round.
Fortunately for the Miami Dolphins (and unfortunately for the prospect they picked), an incident with a hacked Twitter account and a video that never should've been released to the public caught a lot of teams off guard and caused Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to take a tumble from his projected draft position.
Until Miami caught him and stopped his fall.
Before the video was released, Tunsil was considered to be a top three pick in the draft, in fact some draft experts saw him as the most talented player overall. The fall cost him millions in yearly salary for his rookie contract, and now he'll have a lot to answer for as not only the video is taken into account, but soon after he was selected, his Instagram account was also hacked and showed a conversation between him and a coach from college which showed that he accepted money from the college to pay for his mother's $305 utility bill.
The issues are already well-documented, and according to the Dolphins, they didn't see that as a problem when they drafted him as he remained the second best player on their draft board.
“We had heard rumors, but we had done work." said General Manager Chris Grier. "We had known about it. The video is two years old. So, from all the information we had, we were comfortable with it. We had some information. But obviously once it happened, we called some people we know to check and just triple check and make sure. And obviously before you take anyone when a guy falls like that, we went back and we dug into the research again and just made sure.”
Everything we've heard from Laremy Tunsil thus far has suggested that he's aware of what he did and he knows it was wrong. This is a good sign. Rather than denying the incidents, he owned up to it and seems determined to show that he's learned from his mistakes.
The real question now is what will Tunsil's role be now that he's been picked by the Miami Dolphins. The team has three very good tackles with Tunsil, Branden Albert and Ja'Wuan James. They also have former Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod on the roster to add more depth.
Obviously Tunsil won't be riding the bench, he's too good for that. And as it's been stated numerous times already, the best five offensive linemen will be starting. Tunsil is immediately one of those five.
There are two options to consider.
1: Miami moves veteran tackle Branden Albert to guard where he played in college, potentially extending his career as it'll give him more support, but possibly raising his ire as he seems adamant about remaining at left tackle.
2: Miami bumps Tunsil inside and lets him get accustomed to the speed of the NFL while playing in-between Albert and center Mike Pouncey, while Albert can groom him to become the team's future franchise left tackle when Albert eventually moves on (which should be fairly soon).
Whichever route Miami takes, they'll now have to deal with the media putting Tunsil under a microscope for a while. He was unable to attend his introductory press conference because of an "allergic reaction" which already has many suspicious as to the true nature of his absence. He had been at the Dolphins training facility for several hours and met with team doctors.
It could be a lie, it could be the truth, it could simply be a ploy to keep Tunsil away from the media until things calm down somewhat. What's important right now is what Miami will do with him on the field. His presence will give quarterback Ryan Tannehill some real protection for the first time in his career, and give an instant upgrade to the Dolphins offense.
Now Miami just needs to provide some protection for Tunsil until things cool off, and Tunsil in return, needs to make sure he keeps himself on the straight and narrow. Miami may have temptations, but they're not so irresistible that he won't be able to keep his nose clean. With any luck, Tunsil will be able to protect Tannehill and himself at the same time.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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