Early Projections for Miami Dolphins' Final 53-Man Roster
Free agency and the draft have come and gone, telling us that we're another step closer to the beginning of NFL training camp.
We're still two months way from that; however, we did get our first rookie camp over the weekend, which once upon a time was Miami's biggest sports story in May.
In 2013, however, it wasn't even the biggest Miami Dolphins-related story of May. It has been an active weekend for the possible future Los Angeles Dolphins to say the least.
But enough about that stuff. Instead, let's look to the future as we take a good look at the Dolphins' possible 53-man roster for Week 1 of 2013.
Please note that this is speculation and nothing more for now. While most of these positions are a given, the rest are still up in the air due to future position battles in training camp, future signings and preseason injuries.
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This is a fairly easy battle to decipher and one of the most stable positions on the Dolphins roster for the first time in more than a decade.
Ryan Tannehill is set in stone as the team's No. 1 quarterback; however, it should be mentioned that this season is a make-or-break season not only for Tannehill, but also for the general manager that chose him.
Behind Tannehill is one of the league's best backup quarterbacks in Matt Moore, but Moore won't be in the mix for the starting job in Miami. Nevertheless, having him as insurance is valuable for the Dolphins. If Tannehill is injured or ineffective, Moore is a nice insurance policy to have.
QB1: Ryan Tannehill
QB2: Matt Moore
QB3: Pat Devlin
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With Reggie Bush gone, it's officially Lamar Miller's time to shine in Miami's backfield.
Last season, Miller had a yards-per-carry average of 4.9 yards while running for 250 yards and a touchdown on 51 carries.
This should provide hope for the Dolphins as Miller's the No. 1 back, a position that is as close to being etched in stone as you'd think.
The race for No. 2 back, however, should be interesting, as the oft-injured and underachieving Daniel Thomas will be competing with rookie Mike Gillislee for the job, with Jonas Gray also providing some competition at that spot. Return specialist Marcus Thigpen should also expect to compete for touches at running back and even at receiver as well.
RB1: Lamar Miller
RB2: Mike Gillislee
RB3: Jonas Gray
RB4: Marcus Thigpen
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I often wonder who goes between Charles Clay and Michael Egnew.
Between signing Dustin Keller and drafting Dion Sims, the Dolphins now have a glut at tight end.
It's likely that both will stay, with Clay shifting to an H-Back role full time and occasionally lining up as a tight end but not as much as in the last two years.
The full-time fullback will still be Jorvorskie Lane, fulfilling Miami's blocking needs as well as picking up those short yet tough yards.
Fullback: Jorvorskie Lane
H-Back: Charles Clay
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I hope I'm not tweeting this at any time this season:
"Man, I don't understand how the #Dolphins signed Mike Wallace when there were so many other good receivers in free agency and in the draft SMH"
Then follow that up with:
"I'm not bashing him or have something against him, I just don't understand it as I watch Jennings and Davone Bess make Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden look like real QBs while Quinton Patton is killing it in SF."
I doubt you will see those tweets/bad jokes in the future at the expense of Wallace's ignorance (they weren't homophobic, just ignorant since it's not a choice, even though the Dolphins seem to think otherwise), because Wallace, as Miami's No. 1 receiver, will provide them with what was missing last season.
Alongside Wallace you have Brian Hartline, Miami's leading receiver last season. With a new contract in tow and a season where he won't be the focus of opposing team's secondaries, I expect Hartline to flourish.
Brandon Gibson serves as Miami's No. 3 receiver, but it wouldn't surprise me if he moved up to No. 2 during training camp if he exceeds expectations.
The fourth wide receiver slot should be a battle. If I were to choose a favorite right now, it would be 2012 seventh-rounder Rishard Matthews. Regardless, expect heavy competition between him, former Tannehill teammate Jeff Fuller and Armon Binns.
If UDFA Terrell Sinkfield can live up to the hype caused by his reported 4.19 40-yard dash (per ESPN.com), he'll make the team not just as a receiver, but also in the return game.
WR1: Mike Wallace
WR2: Brian Hartline
WR3: Brandon Gibson
WR4: Rishard Matthews
WR5: Jeff Fuller
WR6: Terrell Sinkfield
Honestly, I think the Dolphins upgraded more at tight end than they did at wide receiver.
Dustin Keller's signing was one of the best (behind Grimes and Wallace) of this offseason, and if he can make Mark Sanchez look passable, imagine what he'll do for Ryan Tannehill.
On the blocking side, the Dion Sims pick was a slam dunk for the Dolphins both in terms of need and at the position he was drafted in. He's not just a blocking tight end; he's also athletic and can make big catches, and will be an almost impossible-to-miss red-zone target.
Then there's the story of Michael Egnew, who, with a year of development, might see some playing time this season.
He better, considering what Miami gave up to acquire him.
TE1: Dustin Keller
TE2: Dion Sims
TE3: Michael Egnew
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Well after all of the left tackle talk, Miami's 2013 starting left tackle will be Jonathan Martin.
Tyson Clabo, the gentleman pictured above and signed recently by the Dolphins, plays right tackle and will likely be Miami's starting right tackle this season.
As for the guards, you can rely on Richie Incognito, but be on the lookout for the right guard battle that will ensue between Lance Louis and John Jerry, which should be one of the more intriguing battles in camp. Jerry is the favorite due to his incumbency, but Louis will make him fight for the position.
In the meantime, Dallas Thomas will likely develop this year and fill in from time to time, notably if Incognito needs a breather for a series. Thomas is likely tabbed as Incognito's replacement.
If you have to ask me who will play center for the Dolphins, then you're likely the type of fan that makes me sympathize with Omar Kelly's feelings.
LT: Jonathan Martin
LG: Richie Incognito
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: John Jerry
RT: Tyson Clabo
T: Will Yeatman
T/G: Dallas Thomas
G: Lance Louis
C/G: Josh Samuda
G/T: Nate Garner
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Here's where the real fun begins: on defense.
Miami's defense has an abundance of talent, and this isn't more evident than on the defensive line.
With Cameron Wake, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai lies the potential for three-fourths of the AFC's Pro Bowl defensive line.
But the position is pretty deep beyond those three, with versatile players that can play either up the middle or on the edges.
The big question mark is with the right defensive end, which is where Dion Jordan is assumed to be playing, right?
Well, partially. I see Jordan as a Swiss Army knife in his first season in Miami, spending sometime at defensive end, while also playing some outside linebacker. He will have a spot at both positions on this list.
Then there are Olivier Vernon and Koa Misi, who are both capable of playing weak-side linebacker and right defensive end. Both will see time at either position (as well as on the left side in relief of Cameron Wake).
This is a fun position to watch and will be one of Miami's most productive positions.
LDE: Cameron Wake
DT: Paul Soliai
DT: Randy Starks
RDE/WLB: Dion Jordan
DE/DT: Jared Odrick
DE/WLB: Olivier Vernon
DT: Kheeston Randall
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Here's another fun position with plenty of fresh faces in a new place.
Gone are Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, in are Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.
Koa Misi will start off as the weak-side linebacker, but expect to see plenty of turnover at the position with Misi splitting some time with Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, who will also see time as the right defensive end.
Rookie Jelani Jenkins will also see some time, possibly at all three linebacker spots to spell the starters, while second-year player Josh Kaddu and undrafted free agent Michael Clay will likely have a chance to fight for a job and contribute on special teams.
Austin Spitler and Jason Trusnik will also contribute just as they did last season off the bench.
SLB: Philip Wheeler
MLB: Dannell Ellerbe
WLB/DE: Koa Misi
LB1: Austin Spitler
LB2: Jason Trusnik
LB3: Jelani Jenkins
LB4: Josh Kaddu
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Here's the position that needed the most help during the offseason—and boy did it get it.
Other than safeties Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons, who will you recognize in this defensive backfield?
Well, Richard Marshall will likely stay and actually start off the season as the No. 2 corner alongside Brent Grimes, with Jamar Taylor slowly taking that job as Marshall transitions to the role he was originally brought to Miami for, the nickleback.
CB1: Brent Grimes
CB2: Richard Marshall
CB3: Jamar Taylor
CB4: Will Davis
S1: Reshad Jones
S2: Chris Clemons
S3: Jimmy Wilson
S4/CB5: Don Jones
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It's not exactly breaking news to say that Dan Carpenter's job is in trouble.
This tends to happen when your team picks a kicker in Round 5 with plenty of other talent that can help the team still on the board.
Sorry Dan. Tthanks for the field goals that made former head coach Tony Sparano pump his fist, and may you have the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.
For example, are the Raiders still happy with Sebastian Janikowski? A reunion with Sparano might work well.
K: Caleb Sturgis
P: Brandon Fields
LS: John Denney
PR1: Marcus Thigpen
PR2: Terrell Sinkfield
KR1: Marcus Thigpen
KR2: Terrell Sinkfield