Predicting the Last 5 In, Last 5 out for Miami Dolphins' Final 53 Man Roster
Training camp is not too far away for the Miami Dolphins, and you can feel it coming based on the increased heat and humidity in the air, as well as the increased heat that some current members of the Dolphins roster are feeling.
Like all NFL teams, the Dolphins will have to pare their roster down to 53 by the beginning of the season, and as is the case every year, this difficult process will start in training camp and go on right through the preseason.
Due to the amount of time between now and September, it's difficult to say who will or won't be on the roster, as outside factors such as injury, schematic fit and overall performance in game action still have to be taken into consideration, but man, it is fun to speculate.
We will be doing the speculating here, as we take a look at the last five out and last five in with the Dolphins' final 53-man roster.
Out: S Jordan Kovacs
Former Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs was a highly touted undrafted free-agent signing for Miami after the 2013 draft and was rewarded with a contract with the Dolphins.
He was able to stick on Miami's roster last season, appearing in nine games. However, he was upstaged by another backup safety, Michael Thomas of Stanford.
Currently, the race to fill out Miami's secondary is a tight one, especially at the safety position. The Dolphins have a plethora of safeties in the running, and one of them will likely be left out.
Kovacs right now looks most likely to be left out, as he's the least versatile of the group.
In: S Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas is a hero in Miami, so his roster spot should be assured, right?
Not quite. While the Dolphins don't have great quality at safety (I'd describe it more as decent), they do have quantity, which means Thomas will have to fight for his job this offseason.
Competing against him for the backup strong safety position is Jordan Kovacs, who has been a favorite among the Dolphins since last season. It's a difficult race to call; however, in the end, the edge should go to Thomas, who has shown more in NFL action than Kovacs has.
Out: WR Armon Binns
The Dolphins have a wealth of talent at wide receiver, but despite this, you will see two wide receivers on this list as "out."
This is because the Dolphins will only use about six or seven receivers this season, but 13 are on the roster. Of the 13, it's safe to say that nine of them can contribute, and I'm not even counting Marcus Thigpen, who will be used from time to time as a receiver.
The first one out would be Armon Binns, who's coming back from a devastating injury that cost him all of 2013. Prior to getting hurt, he was having a productive offseason with the Dolphins, and while he hopes to continue that trend, it's difficult when recovering from season-ending knee surgery.
Binns has the potential to be a productive player in the NFL; however, the depth at his position will hurt his chances in Miami.
In: WR Rishard Matthews
This shouldn't even be in doubt. Yes, Rishard Matthews deserves a roster spot on the Dolphins.
He came up big last season when the ball was thrown his way. He was a suitable replacement for an injured Brandon Gibson and seems poised for a great year in 2014.
Matthews can line up on the outside and in the slot, which is the versatility needed of a wide receiver in Bill Lazor's offense. He also has good chemistry with Ryan Tannehill already, which is another major asset.
As it looks right now, the only receivers ahead of Matthews on the depth chart will be the three starters: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Gibson. The receivers behind Matthews look like they will be Jarvis Landry and Matt Hazel, with one more name I'll get to later.
First, let's look at the next slide for the next wide receiver who will find himself out the door.
Out: WR Damian Williams
Damian Williams was one of the quieter Dolphins' signings of the offseason and will be the last wide receiver left out of the 53 man roster.
The reason for this is Miami's depth at the position, which is the same reason that Armon Binns was left off. Miami did well in drafting the position, and thus far both Jarvis Landry and Matt Hazel have performed well in minicamp.
Williams could earn his way on the roster by beating out Marcus Thigpen on returns; however, Thigpen comes in with more experience, which is why I'll write more about him on the next slide.
In: RB/WR Marcus Thigpen
I'm very confident in calling Marcus Thigpen one of the last players in on the 53-man roster and even more confident that he will have a resurgence after a 2013 that could have gone better.
Notice how I wrote in Thigpen as a wide receiver/running back. This season, expect him to play more receiver than running back, to the point where he is a receiver.
He is built to succeed in Lazor's offense as a versatile weapon who can work well in space.
Space is where this offense really thrives, and speed is needed. Thigpen has the speed for it to work.
He will likely also continue to return punts and kickoffs since he has the most experience in the role.
Out: G Davonte Wallace
Undrafted free-agent guard Davonte Wallace would have likely been a bubble boy during training camp anyway but one the Dolphins likely would have kept on in order to fortify their depth at guard.
Guard, long a problem position for Miami, needed perhaps the most help in the offseason, and Wallace, while a project, would likely find himself on Miami's final 53 due to the need for bodies at the position.
Sadly for him, one position along the offensive line needs just a bit more help.
In: Center Tyler Larsen
Davonte Wallace and Tyler Larsen would have been flip-flopped on this list had Mike Pouncey not gotten hurt.
With Pouncey's injury, Miami only has Sam Brenner and Nate Garner at center. None of them is exactly ideal, and while they can both play the position, they're better used as guards.
Utah State product Tyler Larsen is a natural center and was likely a practice squad candidate prior to the Pouncey injury.
Now, he'll have to be on the roster (barring a disaster of a training camp) in a position that became a very needy one for Miami overnight.
Out: RB Damien Williams
Damien Williams is a former Oklahoma prospect who, thus far, looks like one of Miami's better undrafted free-agent signings.
Yet, I don't see him making the roster right now.
The reason is that he is competing in a crowded backfield that has some health question marks thanks to Knowshon Moreno's injury.
Williams isn't a Moreno-type running back; he's better suited as a speed demon. This works in Bill Lazor's offense; however, Miami will need another Moreno-type backup, which unfortunately pushes Williams onto the practice squad (assuming another team doesn't pick him up).
This isn't my choice. I'm going with what this team usually does under coach Joe Philbin, so you know what that means on the next slide.
In: RB Daniel Thomas
I am so very sorry for this.
Here's why Daniel Thomas gets that final running back roster spot: Knowshon Moreno's injury and Joe Philbin's stubbornness.
Is Thomas a fit for Bill Lazor's offense? Not at all. Is he versatile? Not at all.
Can he pass block? Pro Football Focus' minus-0.7 rating (subscription required) just screams "you have got to be kidding me."
Am I happy about this? No.
Are you happy about this? Probably not.
It is what it is, though. The good news is that this is Thomas' final year under contract. Hopefully, he has a killer contract year.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.