As OTAs are ongoing and we’re still around two months away from Training Camp (and Hard Knocks), it’s about time we get an early off-season roster projection to at least give us a starting point to move on from.
I’d advise that you check out this Roster Preview article that compares Jeff Ireland’s averages at each position as well as Joe Philbin’s offensive rosters and Kevin Coyle’s defensive rosters the past two seasons when they were position coaches.
1. Matt Moore
2. Ryan Tannehill
3. David Garrard
-While this is my projected depth chart order, it’s likely that 1 and 3 could be easily flipped. But Ryan Tannehill seems secure to at least be listed as the 2nd quarterback coming into the season, similar to what the Jaguars did last year with Blaine Gabbert. Not hoping for a similar result because, as was the case with Gabbert, Tannehill isn’t ready yet.
-If Matt Moore wins the job, don’t be shocked if Garrard is let go. And if David Garrard wins the job outright, Moore may be on the trading block to any team that loses a quarterback in training camp/pre-season. Joe Philbin’s offenses in Green Bay (though he likely didn’t have a major impact) never had more than 2 QBs on the opening day depth chart.
-I’m hoping the Dolphins can keep Pat Devlin on the practice squad, because I do like his long-term ceiling. Plus, with Moore and Garrard free agents next year, Devlin could have shot for the #2 spot long term.
1. Reggie Bush
2. Lamar Miller
3. Daniel Thomas
4. Jerome Messam
JUST MISSED: Jonas Gray
-While I actually liked Daniel Thomas out of college more than I do Lamar Miller, Miller is a much better fit for the offense and could even give Reggie Bush a run for some of his touches in the up-tempo, spread out offense.
-Jerome Messam was a unique import from the CFL, and thanks to his fullback ability as well as being the more physical runner on the roster, he could fill a John Kuhn type role for Philbin’s offense.
-Jonas Gray is maybe the most sound between the tackles runner on the roster currently, but it’ll be tough for him to get a crack at a roster that has 2 recent draft picks, a 1,000 yard runner, and Messam. He does have a better shot than Steve Slaton, who seems all but out
1. Davone Bess
2. Brian Hartline
3. Legedu Naanee
4. Rishard Matthews
5. Marlon Moore
6. Clyde Gates
JUST MISSED: BJ Cunningham and Julius Pruitt
-I’m putting Rishard Matthews awfully high, as I’m expecting him to be very dynamic and unique by training camp. He could be in many formations throughout the year and could be one of the few late round impacts in the NFL this year.
-Marlon Moore is maybe a surprise here, especially with BJ Cunningham, a 2012 draft pick, not on the depth chart. But I picked Moore over Cunningham in particular for three reasons: 1. Cunningham has struggled with drops so far in OTAs (something Coach Philbin hates most about receivers) and has small hands, meaning he may not improve there over his career. 2. Moore has experience in a more west-coast functioning offense when he was at Fresno State and 3. Based on an interview I heard with him, he seems to have the right attitude that Joe Philbin will fight for when he gets his say in the depth chart making.
-Clyde Gates is not a guy I’d put on this roster at all, but based on Philbin’s comments about how he just needs work and Jeff Ireland’s previous love for Gates’s potential, he isn’t likely to be cut after just one year. That may mean losing out on a 6th round draft pick or Julius Pruitt, who has won over many veterans.
-On Pruitt as well, he won’t be eligible for the practice squad (to my knowledge), so he’ll be a goner if he doesn’t make the team. I think he’s developed nicely and I’d actually choose him for the 6th spot if it was up to me, but he has very long odds, having to beat out the Top 6 now as well as Cunningham, Roberto Wallace, and Jeff Fuller.
1. Michael Egnew
2. Charles Clay
3. Anthony Fasano
JUST MISSED: Les Brown
-There looks to be a lot of pressure on Michael Egnew to step up this year, as he’s clearly the most talented tight end to be the H-Back/Tight End/Split in the Slot receiving option Joe Philbin wants to use.
-Charles Clay is a really impressive athlete who can block and get in the seam to make plays. He could have an instant impact and maybe even battle Egnew for those catches.
-Les Brown is basketball-type athlete that is very raw with loads of upside. He’ll need time to develop, and ideally that’d be on the practice squad. The question is: would he last there? Odds are, teams will strongly consider Brown as a 3rd/4th tight end with a chance to contribute in match-up situations late in his rookie year. Tough decision for the Dolphins.
OT 1. Jake Long
OT 2. Jonathan Martin
OT 3. Lydon Murtha
OG 1. Richie Incognitio
OG 2. John Jerry
OG 3. Artis Hicks
OC 1. Mike Pouncey
OC 2. Ryan Cook
JUST MISSED: Ray Feinga
-The tackles seem pretty set. Long and Martin are the starters, and Jeff Ireland has expressed his confidence in Lydon Murtha as a tackle, even giving Murtha false hope that they may not draft a tackle early (which they still did). Also, Artis Hicks could provide depth there as well.
-John Jerry seems to be the favorite at right guard, but they certainly aren’t confident in that spot. Artis Hicks could easily be the starter as well. That lack of confidence at that spot could push them to keep a 4th guard in Ray Feinga, who developed a bit on their practice squad a year ago.
-Keeping two centers isn’t what they’d like to do, but the above six players have little to no experience at center, and Ryan Cook was a solid prospect out of New Mexico a few years back.
1. Paul Soliai
2. Randy Starks
3. Tony McDaniel
4. Ryan Baker
5. Kheeston Randall
-The Dolphins have kept 5 defensive tackles (extrapolating from 3-4 to 4-3 defense) the past four years under Jeff Ireland. while I don’t think they need five spots because they are set at the two start spots easily, they may value the depth with the change in scheme.
-Tony McDaniel will likely get playing time at end at times, especially in 3-man fronts situationally.
-Kheeston Randall barely missed the roster projection, but being a draft pick and a position that values depth, he may be worth keeping on the roster this season to see what they have.
1. Cameron Wake
2. Jared Odrick
3. Oliver Vernon
4. Jamal Westerman
5. Derrick Shelby
-Look for Oliver Vernon to get lots of time to give Cameron Wake a rest, as well as getting 4-man front 3rd down rushing time. I’m thinking a 3 or 4 manned front with Wake, Vernon, and Jared Odrick featured could be tough for opposing offensive lines.
-I didn’t like Derrick Shelby all that much from what I initially saw in college, but after going back and revisiting him after the Dolphins signed him, there is certainly room for him to have a very good chance to stick on this team. He and Kheeston Randall may be battling for the 9th DL spot.
OLB 1. Kevin Burnett
OLB 2. Koa Misi
OLB 3. Josh Kaddu
OLB 4. Jason Trusnik
ILB 1. Karlos Dansby
ILB 2. Gary Guyton
ILB 3: Austin Spitler
-Not an ideal situation for this part of the roster. Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby are solid starters, but Koa Misi hasn’t shown much, and he’ll be battling a 5th round rookie Josh Kaddu and Jason Trusnik for the starting weakside spot.
-Gary Guyton may battle for an outside linebacker spot, something I’d be very curious to see, as I’m done with giving Koa Misi a chance to succeed. At worst, he’s a great backup and situational guy behind Dansby.
-Austin Spitler is a practice squad talent to me, but he’s the next best linebacker and he’s been on the roster the past two seasons.
1. Vontae Davis
2. Sean Smith
3, Richard Marshall
4. Nolan Carroll
5. Jonathan Wade
-Vontae Davis and Sean Smith need to step up this year, as I’d really rather those two really maximize their potential this year and keep Richard Marshall consistently inside and used situationally. Regardless, I’m satisfied with the top three cornerbacks, and all three have starter ability.
-Jonathan Wade is really the only other cornerback past the top three and Nolan Carroll that I think has an NFL game, but Marcus Brown is a wild card to make the team as well. He’ll need to show a lot this training camp, but Seattle toyed with him on their practice squad in 2010 and the Dolphins had them on theirs last year.
1. Chris Clemons
2. Reshad Jones
3. Jimmy Wilson
4. Tyrell Johnson
5. Tyron Culver
-Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones are the two top dogs in my opinion at strong and free safety (respectively). Tyrell Johnson fits the Kevin Coyle, physical strong safety mold, but I’m not sure he’ll challenge for a starting spot.
-Jimmy Wilson could be the dime cornerback as well, which really adds to his versatility. Thanks to that, Tyrone Culver might be worth keeping around, as he got one of the final roster spots as well.
Kicker: Dan Carpenter
Punter: Brandon Fields
Long Snapper: John Denney