Miami Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Player Power Rankings: Midseason Edition

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2012

Miami Dolphins Player Power Rankings: Midseason Edition

1 of 6

    Perhaps more surprising than the Miami Dolphins 4-3 start is the sheer number of players who are finally fulfilling expectations, realizing their potential and contributing.

    The Dolphins were a complete train wreck at the conclusion of the preseason. At the time, it was nearly impossible to envision the team winning more than a handful of games, let alone compete for a playoff spot. 

    But that's why the preseason doesn't count. 

    Players such as Nolan Carroll, Chris Clemons, Derrick Shelby and Marcus Thigpen have emerged from the darkest cellars of the roster to provide vital contributions. Similarly, players who have previously disappointed—Sean Smith, Karlos Dansby, Reshad Jones—have not only rebounded but have played at Pro Bowl levels. 

    So now that the midway mark of the 2012 NFL season is upon us, let's breakdown exactly how the Dolphins roster has taken shape. 

     

    NOTE: Because the Dolphins cut Anthony Armstrong on Tuesday, they currently have only 52 players. Also, select stats and snap counts courtesy of Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders.


Tier 5

2 of 6

     

    Rank Player Pos. Breakdown
    52 Will Yeatman

    OT

    The converted tight end is essentially Miami's emergency backup offensive lineman. He's yet to dress for a game this season.
    51 Michael Egnew

    TE

    Miami's third-round draft pick looks like a bigger bust with each passing week. Expected to provide a seam-threat tight end immediately, Egnew still hasn't cracked the active roster. 

    50 Rishard Matthews WR Matthews outlasted a slew of wide receivers in training camp, during which he showcased great speed and some potential as a wide receiver. However, he still hasn't dressed. 
    49 Pat Devlin QB The Dolphins have opted to dress only two quarterbacks in every game this season, leaving Devlin on the inactive list for each. 
    48 De'Andre Presley

    CB

    Presley has only appeared in three games this season, and he's nothing more than a special-teamer.  

    47 Josh Kaddu

    LB

    The fifth-round draft pick hasn't factored into Miami's defensive or special-teams plans. In fact, he has registered just one snap all season—and it came on special teams.

    46 R.J. Stanford

    CB

    Signed just days before the start of the regular season, Stanford hasn't factored into anything beyond special teams. 

    45 Jonathan Freeny LB Freeny has played only one defensive snap this season, but he's an integral role player on the Dolphins special-teams units. 
    44 Austin Spitler LB Spitler has seen a handful of snaps on defense, but he specializes on special teams, where he has registered two tackles.
    43 Jonathon Amaya S Signed one month ago, Amaya is in his second tour of duty with the Dolphins. He's shown flashes at safety in practice but is still relegated solely to special teams. Amaya was instrumental in Jimmy Wilson's blocked punt on Sunday. 
    42 Jason Trusnik LB Trusnik has also seen a handful of snaps on defense, but he leads the team in special teams snaps with 198. 
    41 Jeron Mastrud  TE Mastrud is a pure blocking specialist who doesn't bring much more to the table. He appears primarily in Miami's power and short-yardage formations. 
    40 Josh Samuda C Samuda made the team as an undrafted free agent after an excellent preseason. If Mike Pouncey goes down with an injury, then Samuda will get the call. 

Tier 4

3 of 6
    Rank Player Pos. Breakdown
    39 Nate Garner

    OG

    Garner is a versatile backup who can play virtually every position along the offensive line. His versatility makes him a valuable backup. 
    38 Jabar Gaffney

    WR

    Although he just appeared in his first game on Sunday, Gaffney reeled in a 30-yard reception, and his presence alone improves the Dolphins passing game—if only to a minor degree.
    37 Charles Clay

    FB /TE

    Clay's preseason performance suggested a breakout season was on the horizon. Instead, he has become a non-factor for the 'Phins, recording only five receptions for 45 yards.
    36 Kheeston Randall

    DT

    Randall isn't playing notably well, but he's certainly holding his own as a seventh-round draft pick. He has six tackles and one quarterback hurry on the season.
    35 Tony McDaniel

    DT

    We've seen McDaniel play like a starting-caliber defensive lineman, but not this year. Since returning from injury five weeks ago, he has recorded just two tackles and one quarterback hit in 87 snaps. 
    34 Jon Denney

    LS

    Denney is the longest-tenured Miami Dolphin for a reason. The man defines consistency. So long as he's snapping the ball, Brandon Fields and Dan Carpenter can rest easy. 
    33 Derrick Shelby

    DE

    The hype Shelby—an undrafted free-agent signing—generated this preseason has subsided, but he's still exceeding expectations. He has accumulated five quarterback hurries and two stops in 89 defensive snaps.
    32 Marcus Thigpen

    RS

    Thigpen is averaging 28.6 yards per kick return (sixth-best among players with at least 10 kick returns) and 14.3 yards per punt return (second-best among players with at least 10 punt returns). The Dolphins dug up another diamond in the rough from the CFL.
    31 Marlon Moore

    WR

    Moore is a special-teams ace who is seeing an increased role with the Dolphins offense. He capitalized with a 29-yard touchdown catch in Week 6. It'd be interesting to see what Moore could do with more reps.
    30 Lamar Miller

    HB

    Despite averaging 5.5 yards per carry, the Dolphins have essentially eliminated Lamar Miller from their offensive scheme. He has played a combined four offensive snaps in the last three weeks and hasn't registered a touch since Week 4. 
    29 Jimmy Wilson

    CB

    Wilson stepped into an expanded role once Richard Marshall went down with a back injury, and he has responded admirably. He has two forced fumbles on the season and a blocked punt that led to a touchdown this last Sunday. He's also one of, if not the Dolphins' best, special-teams player. 
    28 Jonathan Martin

    OT

    Considering how disastrous Martin's preseason was, his regular-season performance doesn't look all that bad. Sure, he's the biggest liability on Miami's offensive line by far, but he has yielded only one sack this season.

Tier 3

4 of 6
    Rank Player Pos. Breakdown
    27 Richard Marshall

    CB

    Marshall has missed Miami's last three games with a lower back injury. Beforehand, he was inconsistent and often penalized but still held his own as a starter. 
    26 Nolan Carroll

    CB

    Cornerback depth was a pressing concern entering the regular season, but Carroll has done his best to soothe those worries. He has filled in for Marshall and played well enough to keep the Dolphins secondary afloat. 
    25 Daniel Thomas

    RB

    Thomas has already suffered two concussions and could lose his season if he suffers another. When healthy, he's averaging only three yards per carry but does have three touchdowns. Hopes of Thomas achieving his potential are growing thin; however, he's turning into a solid short-yardage back. 
    24 Jared Odrick

    DE

    Simply put, Jared Odrick is too big to thrive as a 4-3 defensive end. At 6'5", 305 pounds, he should be playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 or defensive end in a 3-4. Although Odrick can play the run, he has only four quarterback hurries in 441 defensive snaps.
    23 Dan Carpenter

    K

    Carpenter cost the Dolphins a win in Week 3 and missed field goals in the ensuing two weeks. Still, Miami views him as a franchise kicker, and he has performed like one in the past.  
    22 Matt Moore

    QB

    Prior to Sunday's game, Moore would've ranked as a Tier 5 player. He couldn't have played worse this preseason, but there's a reason he's known as a gamer. Moore has reestablished himself as one of the league's premier backup quarterbacks. 
    21 Olivier Vernon

    DE

    After a slow start to the season, Vernon burst onto the scene in Week 6 with a two-sack game. He's excelling against the run and the pass, and he's becoming a regular role player for the Dolphins defense.
    20 John Jerry

    OG

    Miami's unwavering belief in Jerry may finally be paying off. Granted, he hasn't been spectacular by any means, but he's playing like a serviceable starter, which is more than anybody expected from him. 
    19 Jorvorskie Lane

    FB

    The "J-Train" has cooled off after his simmering start. Still, his work can't be ignored—especially considering he was driving trucks for a furniture company one year ago. 
    18 Koa Misi

    LB

    Misi was on the hot seat following a disappointing 2011 campaign, but he's mostly back on track now. He leads Dolphins linebackers with three sacks and has 38 tackles, but he also leads the team in missed tackles with eight (per Pro Football Focus). 
    17 Richie Incognito

    OG

    Incognito has become one of the team's most vocal leaders. Although his intense personality can become problematic (most penalized player on Miami's offense), he's flat-out reliable. 

Tier 2

5 of 6
    Rank Player Pos. Breakdown
    16 Chris Clemons

    S

    Clemons doesn't standout in a Dolphins defense that features names such as Wake, Dansby and Soliai, but he's one of its unsung heroes. He already has 32 tackles and two interceptions this year, putting him on pace to shatter his previous single-season highs. 
    15 Brian Hartline

    WR

    Yes, Hartline has played like a star at times this season—but the keywords here are "at times." He vanished when covered by elite cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Cortland Finnegan. Beyond that, he has only eight receptions in his last three games. Hartline has a huge ceiling, but he needs to show more consistency before he moves up the power rankings.
    14 Anthony Fasano

    TE

    Fasano is never one to soak up the spotlight, but that doesn't seem to bother him. He's on pace to set a career-high in receptions and has allowed only one quarterback hit in 39 pass-protection snaps.  
    13 Kevin Burnett

    LB

    Burnett is quietly enjoying a fantastic season. He already has 42 tackles and 20 stops, though his seven missed tackles are second-highest on the team. Regardless, Burnett is largely responsible for the front seven's success.
    12 Davone Bess

    WR

    Bess might not post spectacular numbers, but without him, the Dolphins passing game would be in trouble. He gives Ryan Tannehill a sure-handed safety blanket, something every rookie QB needs to succeed. 
    11 Paul Soliai

    DT

    As a byproduct of last year's breakout season, offenses are paying far more attention to Big Paul. Subsequently, he hasn't been quite as dominant. That being said, he's still one of the NFL's best run-stuffing interior defensive lineman, and his presence is one reason why Cam Wake and Randy Starks are having such great seasons. 

Tier 1

6 of 6
    Rank Player Pos. Breakdown
    10 Reggie Bush RB Bush was on pace to fulfill his rushing title prophecy after the first three weeks of the season. Since suffering a knee injury in Week 3, however, he has been merely pedestrian. In Miami's last four games, Reggie has just 191 rushing yards on 62 carries.
    9 Brandon Fields

    P

    Never underestimate the importance of special teams—it won the Dolphins a game on Sunday. Similarly, never underestimate the value of Brandon Fields. Perennially one of the NFL's best punters, he currently leads the league in net average per punt. 
    8 Jake Long

    OT

    Jake Long isn't having a typical Jake Long season, but an bad season for him is still a spectacular one for most NFL linemen. He has surrendered two sacks but only three quarterback hurries in 485 snaps, giving Ryan Tannehill some much-needed blindside protection.
    7 Reshad Jones

    S

    Believe it or not, Jones is currently one of the NFL's best safeties. He's on pace for an 89-tackle, five-interception season, which could potentially secure him a Pro Bowl bid. More impressively, opposing quarterbacks have a dismal 32.8 QB rating when throwing into his coverage, which is the third best among safeties.
    6 Ryan Tannehill

    QB

    Setting aside his record-setting Week 4 performance in Arizona, Tannehill has posted mostly underwhelming numbers. But the rookie is winning games—and he's doing it with a very subpar supporting cast. For that, he deserves some consideration for Rookie of the Year honors, right?
    5 Sean Smith

    CB

    It's about time Smith asserts himself as one of the NFL's more dominant cornerbacks. Actually, he did in 2010 and then regressed in 2011. Anyway, Smith is on pace for a five-interception season, and quarterbacks have completed only 50.8 percent of passes when throwing his way. Although Smith is definitely inconsistent at times, he also held his own against the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green.
    4 Karlos Dansby

    LB

    Speaking of players finally fulfilling expectations, Karlos Dansby leads the Dolphins in tackles (44) and stops (29). His six quarterback hurries are second most among all NFL inside linebackers, and he has allowed receptions on only 65.9 percent of passes thrown into his coverage.
    3 Randy Starks

    DT

    Starks has been a secret star since he signed with the Dolphins in 2008, but he can't be ignored anymore. He's currently one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the NFL against both the pass and the run. He has already accrued 12 quarterback hurries and three sacks to go along with 11 tackles and 12 stops. Few other defensive tackles are that effective in both facets.
    2 Mike Pouncey

    C

    Smith, Dansby and Starks might have to do some campaigning for Pro Bowl berths, but Mike Pouncey should be a shoo-in. He has yielded only one quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry in 485 snaps (amazing). Similarly, Reggie Bush is averaging 5.4 yards per carry when he rushes to either side of Pouncey.  
    1 Cameron Wake

    DE

    Another shoo-in for the Pro Bowl (assuming there's actually a Pro Bowl this year), Wake has been nothing shy of unstoppable. He's fourth in the NFL in sacks (7.5), first among all defensive ends in quarterback hits (11) and second in quarterback hurries (27). Wake is also playing efficiently against the run, racking up 23 tackles. 

     

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices