We are exactly 55 days from the Hall of Fame game in which the Miami Dolphins will be taking on the Dallas Cowboys. There has been a lot of shuffling of the Miami roster and it will be interesting to see how much chemistry the Dolphins are able to develop from now until then.
OTA's are a good measure of how much players have improved from last year, as well as a good opportunity for newly acquired players to get accustomed to the new playbook.
There have been a few players who have really stood out from the pack during the first few OTA's. Some have been with the team for a few years, others are new additions and others still are players who will be the defining factor on how well the Dolphins' season will play out.
Let's take a look at some of the players who have been turning heads this offseason.
One of the more disappointing players on the Dolphins' roster last year, Michael Egnew appears to have turned things around, and is beginning to look like a third-round pick.
Egnew was drafted to be Miami's seam threat tight end, but couldn't get on the field last year due to his lack of strength and grasp of the offense. It's hard to believe he will be starting over Dustin Keller this year, but his improvement is certainly encouraging.
During practice, he has been one of the better receivers and has even caught three touchdown passes during a seven-on-seven session:
By my count, #Dolphins TE Michael Egnew had three TD catches in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Best practice I've seen from Egnew in OTAs. @JamesWalkerESPN
Even with Egnew as the second or third tight end on the roster, it appears Miami has a good young duo at tight end with Egnew and rookie Dion Sims. If Egnew can continue to develop and become the receiving tight end he was projected to be, he may be the starting tight end next season.
One of the new additions to the Miami Dolphins secondary is former Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury which he suffered during the first game of last season. How he would recover from the injury was still up in the air, which is why the Dolphins signed him to only a one-year deal.
However, Grimes has quickly shut down any questions about his health. He has been flying all over the field and has likely secured the No. 1 cornerback spot for this season.
Grimes is extremely athletic and has shown it throughout OTA's:
There was one Armon Binns drag where Binns roasted Grimes, but he put on after burners to deflect the pass without jumping. A WOW moment. @OmarKelly
With Sean Smith deciding to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs and Richard Marshall coming off a season-ending back injury, the Dolphins needed someone who can step in and cover the league's best receivers. Grimes has certainly become that someone. His impact has been such that he could become the cornerstone of this defense not only for this year, but for a few years after as well.
The Dolphins certainly took a chance by adding Grimes, but it definitely appears that they made the right decision.
Jared Odrick played defensive tackle at Penn St. He was drafted to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He played out of position as a 4-3 defensive end last year. Now, with Randy Starks deciding to skip OTA's due to his contract situation, Odrick is once again playing his natural position.
The Dolphins drafted Dion Jordan in the first round this year and will be lining up in a 4-3 defense once again. With Starks currently under the franchise tag and Paul Soliai playing the last year of his contract, the Dolphins will probably not re-sign both players next season. If Odrick can prove that he can hold down the defensive tackle position, Miami will allow one of those two players to walk.
Odrick definitely feels comfortable playing defensive tackle:
When I got drafted here to be a 3-4 'D' end, it was something I had to adjust to. Defensive tackle is a position I've played before and I've felt comfortable playing. We'll see how much I'm there and how much I'm somewhere else.
When Starks comes back, Odrick will most likely move back to defensive end, where he will have competition from Jordan and Olivier Vernon. If he continues to improve at defensive tackle and prove that he is capable of playing the position, we will probably see a lot of him on the inside.
It's not very common for undrafted rookies to make the 53-man roster. It is not unheard of, however.
The Dolphins have a wide receiver who has really been turning heads early on in OTA's, and has really made a case for himself. As opposed to last year, Miami will have a lot more depth at wide receiver, so it will be harder to make the team, but Chad Bumphis has a shot.
Bumphis played at Mississippi St., which is not known for having a prolific passing attack, and still managed to catch 58 passes for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns. So far in OTA's, he has really proven he belongs:
Drum roll please.....top OTA performers for today were 1. Brian Hartline (consistency every session). 2. FS Chris Clemons 3. WR Chad Bumphis.
I've learned an undrafted rookie's name and number. Chad Bumphis is No. 16. He flashed all day.
Chad Bumphis catches a short pass from Pat Devlin and jets down field an extra 15 yards. He's fast.
Chad Bumphis blocked a punt in the end zone during special teams work.
Making the team is still a long shot for Bumphis, but at worst we could see him with the practice squad when the season begins.
Ryan Tannehill will be entering his second season as Miami's signal-caller and has been given the weapons around him to succeed. Last year, Tannehill didn't have a wide receiver group that allowed him to grow as a passer, but there's no excuses this year.
Everything coming out of OTA's about Tannehill's development has been positive. He seems to be building chemistry with No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace and has taken complete command of the offense. Tannehill will need to become Miami's leader and has been showing positive signs thus far.
He has been sharp with his throws and has been making better, quicker decisions:
"He had several big throws to Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace and also made routine plays underneath. I’m seeing a difference in the command of the offense and the speed of Tannehill’s progressions. He knows where to go with the football. At least two times in team drills, Tannehill’s reads weren’t open and he quickly threw the ball away. Last year he may have thrown an interception in that scenario."
Newly acquired tight end Dustin Keller also chimed in on what he's seen from Tannehill thus far:
"You would think a guy who used to play wide receiver, the best thing he does is run the ball, but he puts the ball right on the money and he’s a good decision-maker, as well."
The Dolphins offense appears to be more explosive this year, but that all depends on Tannehill. He has been given the keys and all the opportunities to succeed.
The Dolphins decided to move on from Reggie Bush, as Joe Philbin feels pretty confident with the running back group he has.
Miami still has Daniel Thomas on the roster and drafted Mike Gillislee in the fifth round, but there's no doubt Lamar Miller will be the starter when the season begins.
Last year, Miller's lack of pass-blocking kept him off the field, but he has really improved in that aspect which will allow him to remain on the field in obvious passing situations and use his speed out of the backfield.
Joe Philbin talked about how he feels about the running game:
It’s a good group. We were just talking about that when we watching film as an offensive staff. They have different skill traits, dimensions physically and those types of things.
Miller is extremely fast and can use his speed to stretch runs to the outside, but also has the strength and vision to run through the middle. In Miami's fast-paced, more explosive offense, Miller's speed will be vital. He will be able to create mismatches and generate more scoring opportunities.
Somebody should've told Armon Binns to pick a number other than 19. However, with all the problems that number has given Dolphins players in recent years, Binns seems to be overcoming the curse.
Like Bumphis, Binns will be looking to find a spot on the 53-man roster, but he will have to continue to impress coaches in order to do so. So far, Binns has cemented his spot as one of the few receivers who have a shot at making the team.
Omar Kelly from the South Florida Sun Sentinel has been impressed with Binns' performance in OTA's thus far:
"Going to have to declare Armon Binns the top performer of today's OTA session even though Brian Hartline scored the only 11-on-11 TD."
Behind Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, the competition at wide receiver is wide open. Binns appears to be in the conversation, along with Rishard Matthews and Bryan Tyms, for the No. 4 wide receiver spot.
If Binns continues to impress during OTA's and training camp, he will surely see the field this season.
The Dolphins saw a breakout season from Reshad Jones last year, but Chris Clemons failed to solidify himself as the starting safety opposite Jones. He was re-signed to a one-year deal to convince the coaching staff he has what it takes to start in the NFL.
So far, he has really proven himself.
He has been flying around all over the field during OTA's and has been making a lot of plays. OTA's are obviously not the place where players realize their true potential, but it's been a good start for Clemons.
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has certainly been impressed with what Clemons has shown during OTA's.
Clemons has become one of the vocal leaders of the defense, according to Kelly:
RT @MrQuickSlant: anybody emerged as vocal leader on D yet?» I hear Chris Clemons more than anyone. That's good, I guess. @OmarKelly
Miami's defense is a big part of the Dolphins' success and it won't be any different this year. If Clemons can improve and become a good complement to Jones in the secondary, Miami will be able to surprise a lot of teams this season.