Projected Miami Dolphins 53-Man Roster, Training Camp Edition
The 2013 Miami Dolphins believe that "Their Time Is Now."
Their time could mean their time to win the AFC East, their time to begin a new tradition or just their time to debut new uniforms.
The offseason was certainly "their time," as they were the biggest movers and shakers, signing the biggest offensive and defensive targets available in free agency, then trading up from the 12th pick in the draft to the third to acquire defensive end Dion Jordan.
Will these moves add up to 2013 being Miami's time? This article won't answer that question, as it's a projection of the Dolphins' 53-man roster. Keep in mind that these are but projections, and none of these is a guarantee.
(3): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin
Analysis: Ryan Tannehill is the future of the Miami Dolphins and will be expected to show massive improvement from last year while developing chemistry with his new teammates.
Backing him up is probably the best backup quarterback in the NFL in Matt Moore. In case of injury or ineffectiveness, you could do worse than Moore.
Meanwhile, Pat Devlin is the teacher's pet and will remain with the Dolphins for another season of development, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
(4): Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen
Now? It's Lamar Miller's job to lose after a spectacular offseason filled with praise both inside and outside of the Dolphins' organization.
However, this is one of Miami's deepest positions, as Thomas could become Miami's short-yardage back, while Gillislee is able to develop and be used as a change-of-pace back.
Thigpen will serve as Miami's main return man and also could see some work as a slot receiver.
(2): Charles Clay and Jorvorskie Lane
Analysis: This is subject to change due to the on-again, off-again flirtations with Vontae Leach. But whether the Dolphins sign Leach or not, they will likely have two fullbacks on the roster, if for no other reason than the fact that Clay could be used as a tight end (where he has played with the Dolphins the last two years) if he's needed at the position.
(5): Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Armon Binns, Rishard Matthews
Analysis: One of the toughest roster battles will come in the fight for the fifth receiver slot, as the Dolphins will likely only carry five receivers. Based off of their time with the Dolphins last season, Armon Binns and Rishard Matthews are the overwhelming favorites to take the fourth and fifth slots, but the fifth slot will be a battle.
As for the other receivers, this is looking like the best unit in the AFC East so far. The question is, can the talent on paper translate to victories on the field?
(2): Dustin Keller and Dion Sims
Analysis: The lack of development from Michael Egnew last season will play a big part this season if this projection comes true and he doesn't crack the 53-man roster. Miami has two good tight ends and other needs elsewhere, so Egnew will have to fight to remain a Miami Dolphin and not become another in a line of Jeff Ireland third-round busts.
Keller is not only the seam-threat tight end the Dolphins have been looking for for a while, but he can also be used as a slot receiver when it is needed. Sims provides great blocking skills and enough athleticism to be a legitimate threat to score touchdowns in the red zone.
(4): Jonathan Martin, Tyson Clabo, Will Yeatman, Nate Garner
Analysis: With the loss of Jake Long, Miami loses a Pro Bowl left tackle. However, what's often forgotten is that Long had a down year in 2012 that was cut short by injury, which necessitated the Rams (his new team) running him through a 12-hour physical.
Also forgotten is the fact that Long didn't fit Miami's zone-blocking scheme. Jonathan Martin, who struggled last season, does fit the scheme and should show improvement over last year. Rounding out the line on the other side is Tyson Clabo, a great veteran to have on the right side, while Yeatman will get some run in the offensive line rotation and Garner retains his role as Miami's offensive line supersub.
Interior Offensive Linemen
(5): Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Richie Incognito, Lance Louis, Dallas Thomas
Analysis: Pouncey and Incognito are one of the best interior linemen teams in the NFL, so there's not much to worry about with them. Some expect a fight for the role of right guard between Lance Louis and John Jerry, but Jerry will likely retain the job due to Louis coming off of an injury.
Thomas is a developmental project for the Dolphins this upcoming season, but considering he can play just about every position on the line, you will likely see him more often than not.
(4): Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, Jared Odrick
Analysis: One of the most versatile units on the Dolphins will feature two players who will get significant time at linebacker (Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan) and another player who will get plenty of time at defensive tackle (Jared Odrick).
Along with that, it has Cameron Wake, one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, and Derrick Shelby, who will also get some playing time throughout the season.
(4): Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Kheeston Randall, Vaughn Martin
Analysis: Another deep part of the Dolphins defense is its interior defensive line, which goes four deep, not counting Jared Odrick, who's listed as a defensive end but will play on the inside to prepare for life without either Starks or Soliai in 2014 and beyond.
(4): Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler, Jason Trusnik, Josh Kaddu
Analysis: Misi and Wheeler will head up the strong and weak sides, respectively, with plenty of depth behind them not only from Jason Trusnik and Josh Kaddu, but also from Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, who will see some time at linebacker as well.
(3): Dannell Ellerbe, Austin Spitler, Jelani Jenkins
Analysis: Depth is the story of Miami's front seven, and while the middle linebackers are led by Ellerbe, both Spitler and Jenkins will make great contributions to the Dolphins on special teams in 2013.
Both will also see time in the linebacker rotation, with Jenkins getting time to develop at the NFL level. You might see both play at the edges as well as up the middle.
(5): Brent Grimes, Richard Marshall, Jamar Taylor, Will Davis, Nolan Carroll
Analysis: Miami's secondary has a brand-new look, as you will see only two holdovers from last season (only one of which played significant time), a free-agent acquisition and Miami's second- and third-round picks.
Grimes has showed a lot of promise during the offseason workouts with the Dolphins, as noted by the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson:
The super-athletic Grimes, 29, has surpassed the Dolphins’ expectations so far, displaying a knack for knocking away passes and not allowing Mike Wallace to dominate when they were matched up in May and June practices. “Very good instincts,” Joe Philbin said of Grimes, who made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Taylor and Marshall will fight it out for the second starting cornerback slot, with Davis and Carroll adding depth to the position.
(4): Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Don Jones, Jimmy Wilson
Analysis: Matt Miller of Bleacher Report called Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons the top safety duo in the NFL, stating:
The Dolphins might not have the most well-known safety duo in the NFL, but they do have the best duo in the game. Jones is a legitimate top-five talent at the position, and looking at what Clemons did in 2012, he deserves mention as one of the better young free safeties in football.
You would think with that knowledge the Dolphins would only carry three safeties. However, I could see them carrying four, especially when you consider the versatility of Don Jones and Jimmy Wilson, who can both play corner and safety.
(3): Caleb Sturgis (kicker), Brandon Fields (punter), John Denney (long snapper)
Analysis: The only real battle here is at kicker, as Brandon Fields and John Denney are the best in their fields.
It will come down to money. Sturgis is a rookie drafted in the fifth round and will be paid much less than Dan Carpenter. All he will have to do is match Carpenter and the job is his. He will do just that.
Last 5 Players In
Last 5 In: Jimmy Wilson (S), Jorvorskie Lane (FB), Rishard Matthews (WR), Nolan Carroll (CB), Derrick Shelby (DE)
Analysis: You will notice that all of my projected "last five in" are Dolphins veterans who will find themselves fighting for their jobs. However, their veteran experience will likely be enough to keep them around, assuming their positional races are even.
Last 5 Players Out
Last 5 Out: Dan Carpenter (K), Jasper Collins (WR), Michael Egnew (TE), Dimitri Patterson (CB), Jordan Kovacs (S)
Analysis: Two of these cuts will be due to salary owed to each player and the replacements available for both (Patterson and Carpenter).
Collins and Kovacs will spend plenty of time in Miami as likely members of the Dolphins' practice squad alongside a few others who will be released during this training camp.
As for Michael Egnew, his failure to develop as a blocker last season greatly impacts his chances of making the Dolphins this season, and he will likely be the last one cut unless he blows everyone away during training camp.