Three Defensive Line Positions Up For Grabs in Miami Dolphins Camp

john renshawContributor IJuly 27, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30:  Jason Ferguson #95 of the Miami Dolphins looks on against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Dolphins beat the Rams 16-12.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Defensive Line—how will many make the team? 8...

Locks - 4: Kendall Langford, Jason Ferguson, Randy Starks, Phillip Merling

Probable - 1: Paul Soliai

Fighting for last 3 spots: Lionel Dotson, Rod Wright, Tony McDaniel, Ryan Baker, Joe Cohen, Louis Ellis

This is the weakest unit on the defense. That is due to the youth of the starting defensive ends, Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling.

Of course the Dolphins have a lot of interchangeable parts in their 3-4 defense. Jason Taylor and Matt Roth will move from their linebacker spots and get plenty of playing time at defensive end.

This is the first of many looks at Miami’s defensive line. We focus on the battle at nose tackle in this sneak peek.

Soliai has the lead as the backup nose tackle to Jason Ferguson. Many scouts think Ferguson doesn't have much left in the tank so his back up position is vital. It is extremely vital since the Dolphins play a base 3-4 defense.

The main issue with Solai is weight and conditioning. Insiders say he has these under control and has improved his technique as well. Randy Starks can move over and play the nose tackle too. That is why Starks is a lock to make the team despite his legal troubles.

Ferguson must have a great season. He is surrounded by very young players all along the defensive line. The 13-year man out of Georgia is not as thick or bulky as most traditional nose tackles. This, along with his age can cause him to wear down late in games, and in the season,

He is a fantastic bull rusher, who can handle double teams and always plays hard. He isn’t going to blow anybody away with athleticism or pass rushing ability, but he is a must as a player who knows the system, and stops the run at the point of attack.

It will be fascinating to see what happens with Lionel Dotson and Tony McDaniel. Both of these guys fit in the sleeper, diamond in the rough, boom or bust category.

Some Jacksonville players were stunned that the Dolphins were able to acquire McDaniel for only a seventh round pick. The word is that if he dedicates himself, the sky is the limit for this versatile defensive lineman.

Many Dolphin’s players love how Lionel Dotson played in the off season; he brings a real mean streak his approach. Dotson has great hands, pursues ball carriers relentlessly, and plays with a violent emotion.

The McDaniel-Dotson watch will be one of my favorite during training camp. McDaniel needs to learn the Dolphin's system and Dotson needs to take his practice prowess to Sunday afternoons.

Just a brief look at part of the Dolphin’s defensive line, which I think is the key to a serious playoff run. And don’t forget Vonnie Holiday. Miami has their eyes on the unsigned vet in case their youth movement at defensive end is a year to early