Worth the Risk: What Makes Laremy Tunsil the Most Dominant Player in the 2016 NFL Draft?

The Miami Dolphins’ front office is doing backflips in Davie.

Many believed that Laremy Tunsil could be the 3rd overall pick. Most believed that he would be picked 6th overall at the latest. After a strange draft day saga, he fell right into the Miami Dolphins’ lap.

Now, the team has found themselves with arguably the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft. However, clear issues have emerged with Tunsil off of the field. Here, we break down what we know about the strange videos that appeared on Tunsil’s social media accounts, and just how good he must be on the field to warrant taking the risk.

Background:

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(Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Laremy Tunsil was the top player in the 2013 recruiting class, electing to attend Ole Miss over Alabama and other SEC powerhouses.

Tunsil was able to edge his way into the starting lineup three games into his true freshman season, allowing only 1 sack in nine games.

Tunsil started 11 games during his sophomore season. He missed two with injuries.

In 2015, Tunsil received an NCAA suspension for improper benefits, after reportedly receiving a rental car, airfare, and and not having to pay his own vehicle loans. However, Tunsil started the final six games of the season, displaying an exceptional ability to run block and pass protect.

Positives:

There’s nothing not to love on the field about Laremy Tunsil.

The first thing that strikes you about Tunsil is his size. He tips the scales at 310 lbs. and stands at 6’5″. He also sports 34″ arms, which is very, very good.

On the gridiron, Laremy Tunsil has immense ability in the pass and run game. The Ole Miss Rebels relied on him to help protect QB Chad Kelly, and he did just that whenever he was on the field. Tunsil’s technique is outstanding, following the text book exactly in terms of how a player should block pass rushers. In the run game, Tunsil shows the ability to get low and force defenders off of the line of scrimmage.

Tunsil’s athleticism also allows him to get down the field and make blocks in the second level.

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Here, Tunsil is asked to block in the second level on the end around. He does so with ease, making it to the defensive back faster than any 300 lb. man should be able to on a football field.

Tunsil also has a very good ability to recover and stay calm when faced with defenders using block shedding moves.

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On this play the defender attempts to use a spin move, and Tunsil stays calm and holds his ground. Often, players overcompensate here. Tunsil simply remains in his place, and actually manages to drive the defender back further.

When asked to block inside, Tunsil demonstrates outstanding hands and leverage while pushing his man off of the line.

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Laremy Tunsil takes the inside angle on this play. Not only does he push stop the defender from penetrating, but also he actually takes him off of his feet with relative ease.

Ease is the key word here for Laremy Tunsil. He takes on college football’s best defensive linemen in the SEC and is able to make handling them look effortless.

Want to know just how good Tunsil really is? In the red zone against Mississippi State, the Ole Miss Rebels moved him over to the right side just so that they could run a play in that direction.

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So yes, Laremy Tunsil is a dominant football player whose ability on the field should translate to immediate success at left tackle in the NFL.

Negatives:

On the field, there are really no negatives for Laremy Tunsil. He is an elite player in every regard. However, he could stand to add a bit of size to his frame. Tunsil’s current size isn’t a problem, there is simply some room to improve. If he is able to add muscle and get stronger, the defensive linemen should be scared.

The main drawbacks of Laremy Tunsil occur off of the field. In 2015, Tunsil was suspended for receiving illegal benefits. He missed the first 7 games of the 2015 NCAA season. This is not a substantial character concern, but events that have occured this offseason raise some serious red flags.

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(Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)

At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Robert Nkemdiche (college teammate) revealed that Laremy Tunsil was in a hotel room with him when he fell off of the balcony and was found to be drunk and in possession of marijuana. Tunsil did not fail any drug tests, but this was a curious instance for many as it seemed unnecessary for Nkemdiche to incriminate Tunsil. However, he informed the public, and we now know that Tunsil was present. However, he passed drug tests and was not arrested or charged in the incident, so his presence itself is not incriminating.

The largest issue emerged on the night of the draft. Mintues before the first pick was made, a video was posted to Tunsil’s Twitter account of him taking a hit from a gas mask bong. This has obvious implications and caused multiple teams to take Tunsil off of their boards. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the video could be as many as five years old, but nobody knows the true date of the video.

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier stated later that the video is two years old. Many teams were blindsided by this info, but the 12 prior picks likely gave the Dolphins just enough time to investigate the issue and determine that the age of the video mitigated their concerns enough to make the pick.

Minutes later, Tunsil’s Instagram account was also hacked, seeming to include screen shots of incriminating text messages from his 2015 NCAA Suspension. These texts are over a year old, which could be an indication as to how old first video of Tunsil could be.

Multiple reporters have confirmed that Laremy Tunsil passed all of his drug tests at Ole Miss, as well as his test at the Scouting Combine.

So, the Miami Dolphins are taking a clear risk off of the field. However, two things are apparent in this very strange draft day episode.

  1. Someone clearly has it out for Laremy Tunsil, posting multiple incriminating materials on his social media accounts.
  2. That person allowed the Miami Dolphins to fortify their offensive line for years to come.

Fit in Miami:

This is where the Dolphins’ pick gets interesting. How does the team’s offensive line have to shift to accomodate this unexpected addition?

My best guess is that Branden Albert will be moving over to left guard. He played guard during his time at Virginia, and the position could actually help Albert as his athleticism dwindles with age. The Miami Dolphins will be able to rid themselves of Albert’s contract after 2016 and get use out of him this season at guard.

Laremy Tunsil should step in at left tackle on day one, immediately making the Dolphins’ offensive line much more formidable. Ja’Wuan James should stay on the right side, with Mike Pouncey at center. The only question mark remains right guard.

The Dolphins could rely on Billy Turner or Jamil Douglas, and they could even turn to Jermon Bushrod to kick inside and play alongside Pouncey.

Regardless of how the lineup shakes out, the Miami Dolphins have solved their offensive line issues with one singular pick.

The Skinny:

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(Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports)

The risk is very clear here for the Miami Dolphins.

The wounds are still fresh from other players with issues that could plague Tunsil. It is hard to not allow the mind to wander back towards Ricky Williams or Dion Jordan and the issues they had with substance. Could the Dolphins be getting themselves into that situation once again?

The true answer is that we do not know. The age of the video will be very telling. For all we know it could be from his freshman season at Ole Miss, or even before. It is very promising that Tunsil did not test positive for marijuana at any point, given that most teams have adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding the substance as long as players do not fail their tests.

Now, the Miami Dolphins will have to hope that this was an isolated incident for Laremy Tunsil. It is clear that the risks are outweighed by the potential reward. The Miami Dolphins traded back five spots at the beginning of the offseason, and still selected the best player available.

If you evaluate the net gains, the Miami Dolphins were able to acquire Laremy Tunsil, Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso with the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

As long as Tunsil is able to stay out of trouble, he will anchor the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line for the next decade.

 

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