Danny Isidora has the classic offensive lineman mentality toward his job, and that should serve him well in the NFL.
It took little time for him to embrace that this isn’t one of football’s glamour positions and that it’s worth aspiring toward going unnoticed. Dependability is a virtue, and for the last three years, the University of Miami never had to worry about its right guard. Isidora closed a strong career for the Hurricanes with a 39-game starting streak, one of the longest in program history.
None of that strikes Isidora as particularly extraordinary. He’s got an understated, matter-of-fact view of what he’s achieved and an equally measured expectation of what it’ll be like starting from the back of the depth chart when he gets drafted.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I have a good understanding that wherever you go in the NFL, you’re going to be at the bottom. It’s just a matter of whether you’re willing to work to get better, to work to break the starting lineup, to work hard enough to make the 53-man roster.”
Isidora heads toward April’s draft at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, perfect size for any interior line spot, and is expected to be a mid-round pick. He’s one of nine Hurricanes invited to the Combine, which starts in two weeks.
He met with the Dolphins at last month’s Senior Bowl and is a sensible consideration as they explore ways to rework their offensive line. The team paid $28.7 million last season for a unit that Pro Football Focus ranked 30th in the league. While a good amount of that group’s struggles can be attributed to health issues, it’d be prudent for the team cut costs there if it believes it can do so without sacrificing quality.
One route is to let go of left tackle Branden Albert, who has a $10.6 million salary cap hit this season. They would shift Laremy Tunsil from left guard to his long-term home as a tackle and find a quality guard like Isidora in the draft.
If the Dolphins instead opt to keep the group intact, they still need guard help. Jermon Bushrod, an unrestricted free agent, was inconsistent at right guard last year and seems like a candidate to retire after the 2017 season. The three backup interior linemen on the roster at the end of last year were 31-year-old Kraig Urbik and two unproven players in Jake Brendel and Anthony Steen.
Because of that, as well as center Mike Pouncey’s recent run of injury trouble, the Dolphins value flexibility in the upcoming season. Isidora will become an even more attractive prospect if he shows potential at center or left guard over the next two months.
“I’m most comfortable at right guard and I’ve played that the majority of my career, but I’m obviously trying to prove some versatility,” he said. He worked at left guard during Senior Bowl practices and thought he did “pretty well.”
Isidora presents an option for the Dolphins as early as their anticipated third-round compensatory pick or the fifth rounder they already have. While the offensive line is a concern for Miami, linebacker and tight end currently stand as higher priorities for the team’s early-round picks.
Isidora grew up a Dolphins fan in Broward County and was a four-star recruit out of Cypress Bay High School. He chose the Hurricanes rather than sign with Florida State or Wisconsin, and would enjoy the chance to stay home again if he lands with the Dolphins.
“That’s my local team, so I like them,” he said. “Last year was a good season, and I was excited we got that far.
“Our conversation was more personal questions than anything else, just personality stuff like what type of guy I am and what I like to do in my free time, no real crazy questions. The meeting went well. I came away feeling good, feeling like they were interested.”