MIAMI – Anxious to keep Tua Tagovailoa healthy, the Miami Dolphins invested in more protection for him Friday.
Miami used a second-round pick in the NFL draft to select offensive lineman Robert Hunt, a four-year starter for Louisiana-Lafayette at left guard, left tackle and right tackle. The 6-foot-5, 323-pound lineman laughed when asked about his reputation for flattening defenders.
“It’s fun doing that, and it looks really good,” Hunt said. “You don’t get in trouble for destroying people on the football field, so why not do it, you know? I came into any game with a bully mentality.”
The Dolphins noticed.
“We love his competitiveness,” general manager Chris Grier said. “He plays with an attitude.”
Hunt and Southern Cal tackle Austin Jackson, acquired with Miami's second first-round pick Thursday, will shore up an offensive line that could have four new starters in 2020.
“You can feel good about the players we selected, but there’s a long road ahead,” coach Brian Flores said. “It’s a team game. We’ve got to get to know each other, trust each other, build communication. So we’ve got a long way to go.”
The Dolphins also took Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis in the second round. Their third-round pick — and their sixth among the NFL's first 70 selections — was safety Brandon Jones, a three-year starter at Texas.
Miami has nine more picks on the final day of the draft Saturday.
The Dolphins' first pick was Tagovailoa, considered a potential franchise quarterback if he can stay healthy. He set an FBS record for career passing efficiency at Alabama but underwent surgery four times, and his college career was ended by a hip injury in mid-November.
“I'm super excited to get on the field with Tua and all the other guys we already have,” Hunt said. “It's my job to protect him, and that’s what I'm going to do every day.”
Hunt started all 13 games at left guard as a freshman, and played left guard and left tackle as a sophomore. He switched to right tackle for his final two seasons, but was limited to seven games in 2019 because of a groin injury.
Hunt missed the NFL combine in February but said he's 100% healthy now.
Davis was a three-year starter at Alabama and had a stellar sophomore season with 8 1/2 sacks. He slipped to a total of two sacks in his final two seasons, but was stout against the run and projected as a potential first-round pick.
“I've always told players you can play a great game and have no stats,” Flores said. “I see a guy who is defeating blocks and taking two blocks and creating plays for his teammates.”
The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Davis was the 56th player taken, and the seventh from Alabama. He said his goal in 2020 is to be the rookie of the year.
Jones can play either safety position and also contribute on special teams. He prepared for the draft by requesting and studying video from every NFL team.
“It was a really fun experience,” Jones said. “It took about eight weeks to finish the whole thing, but it was worth it.”
The Dolphins, who stockpiled picks after they embarked on a rebuilding project more than a year ago, still need a running back and a tight end. Miami went 5-11 last year under first-year coach Flores, and began an attempted turnaround last month by spending $235 million to sign 10 free agents.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine