Grading Each Miami Dolphins Player on the 53-Man Roster

Andrew Tornetta@AndrewTornettaCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2014

Grading Each Miami Dolphins Player on the 53-Man Roster

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Much like 29 other teams in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins are looking ahead to the offseason in the hopes that they can make the right moves to improve next year.

    But before we look ahead to what they need to do in the draft and free agency, let's take a look back at the 2013 season and how each player graded out.

    The grades are based on the 2013 season only and were done by taking into account preseason expectations compared to the regular-season performance.

    For example, the fact that Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler were two major offseason acquisitions and played poorly hurts them a lot more than if they entered the season with little to no expectations (as they likely will next year).

    On the other hand, seventh-round pick Don Jones didn't make a major impact but played decent on special teams and performed better than anyone would have expected before the season began, which in turn gives him a solid grade for the year.

    With that said, let's get to the grades working our way up from lowest to highest.

    Unless otherwise noted, all stats come from Pro Football Focus (subscription required).


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    Dustin Keller was a big offseason acquisition but unfortunately his season was extremely short-lived.
    Dustin Keller was a big offseason acquisition but unfortunately his season was extremely short-lived.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Regardless of preseason expectations, these are the players who were inactive for more than 75 percent of the team's games this year.

    Whether it be due to injuries, a late-season addition to the roster, being too low on the depth chart or simply not being good enough to warrant playing time, the following players didn't show enough to register grades in 2013:

    • Mike Gillislee, RB
    • Michael Thomas, S
    • Jalil Brown, DB
    • David Arkin, OL
    • Will Yeatman, TE
    • R.J. Stanford, CB
    • Matt Moore, QB
    • Christopher Owens, DB
    • Danny Watkins, OL
    • Austin Spitler, LB
    • Armon Binns, WR
    • Pat Devlin, QB
    • A.J. Francis, DL
    • Dustin Keller, TE

Jonathan Martin, OT

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Entering his second season with the Dolphins, Jonathan Martin was shifted from right to left tackle to replace Jake Long, who left during free agency.

    It's no secret that the switch proved to be an unmitigated disaster. 

    During his time with the team, Martin was atrocious, earning a positive rating from Pro Football Focus in just one of his seven games.

    Despite playing in less than half of the team's games, Martin also allowed seven sacks, which was second most on the team.

    Throw in the fact that he was at the center of a bullying scandal that proved to be a major distraction for the team and it's hard to find a Dolphins player that had a worse year than Martin.

    However, even without the scandal (of which the full details are still not known), Martin's performance this season was a failure just by purely looking at on-the-field performance.

    Grade: F

Dallas Thomas, OT

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    Dallas Thomas talks with Tyson Clabo during training camp. Thomas didn't get much action on the field during the season.
    Dallas Thomas talks with Tyson Clabo during training camp. Thomas didn't get much action on the field during the season.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The fact that the Dolphins had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and lost two starters midway through the season and Dallas Thomas still couldn't get on the field says a lot about what the coaches think of his ability.

    Thomas played just two snaps all year and was active in just six games.

    You can't grade a draft pick after just one season, but it's clear that after getting selected in the third round last April, Thomas was a major failure in his rookie season.

    Grade: F

Philip Wheeler, LB

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    As one of the prized free-agent acquisition, Philip Wheeler's first season in Miami was a complete failure.

    Wheeler ranked 35th among 35 outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus, and was graded worse in every category from where he was in 2012.

    While he did record 93 solo tackles, he missed the fourth-most tackles in the league among outside linebackers and was rated as the second worst against the run.

    He also was terrible in coverage, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 72.3 percent of passes thrown at him for three touchdowns and a 108.7 QB rating.

    Overall, there wasn't much positive to take away from Wheeler's season other than the fact that it would be tough to get much worse in 2014.

    Grade: F

Jamar Taylor, CB

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    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    The Dolphins' second-round pick was virtually a non-factor this season.

    Jamar Taylor battled a groin injury early in the year, missing the first three games, but returned in Week 4 and was immediately exploited by Drew Brees.

    Despite playing just 29 total snaps (14 pass plays), Taylor allowed three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. He only played 16 snaps the rest of the season and was inactive for four more games as well.

    Taylor has a lot of talent and it's possible that he can be a key player for Miami in 2014, but his 2013 season couldn't have gone much worse.

    Grade: D

Will Davis, CB

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    Much like Taylor, the Miami Dolphins' third-round pick struggled to get consistent playing time thanks to being hobbled by a toe injury for much of the year.

    He was inactive for 10 games throughout the season and tallied eight tackles in the time he did play, seven of which came in Week 15 against the New England Patriots.

    Week 15 was the only game all season in which he totaled more than 10 snaps on the field, and he was exploited early and often by Tom Brady.

    In that game Will Davis was thrown at nine times, allowing seven catches for 90 yards.

    It was a rocky rookie season for Davis to say the least.

    Grade: D

Dannell Ellerbe, LB

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Much like Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe was extremely disappointing in his first season with the Dolphins.

    Playing for the first time in his career in a 4-3 defense, Ellerbe struggled in a big way, especially against the run.

    He also was top six in the league in most missed tackles among inside linebackers and graded out 53rd out of 55 overall, according to Pro Football Focus.

    It wasn't all bad for Ellerbe, who was solid in coverage, holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 73 quarterback rating when targeting him while also picking off a pair of passes.

    However, it was his atrocious play (along with Wheeler) in stopping the run that proved to be the Achilles' heel of the Dolphins defense this season.  

    Grade: D+

Reshad Jones, S

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    For all the negative attention Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler got for their bad performances this season, Reshad Jones' year was just as disappointing.

    After a breakout year in 2012, Jones took a major step backward in 2013, getting torched by opposing quarterbacks all season long both in man and zone coverage.

    When matched up with a wide receiver, he allowed completions on 37 of 45 passes thrown at him, averaging 12.8 yards per reception with three touchdowns and one interception.

    The 82.2 percent of passes completed on him was the worst in the league among safeties targeted at least 25 times.

    Quarterbacks boasted a passer rating of 123.5 when targeting Jones in coverage this season, a massive drop-off from the 38 rating they had when going against him in 2012.

    His run defense was slightly better but still earned a negative grade, and he rated as the 68th overall safety out of 86.

    Grade: D+

Lamar Miller, RB

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Unlike fell backfield mate Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller entered the season with extremely high expectations.

    With Reggie Bush leaving in the offseason, Miller was expected to fill his shoes and be an explosive player that would carry the load in the backfield.

    He was far from it.

    In total, Miller finished the year with just 709 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.0 yards per carrynearly a full yard worse than what he averaged the previous season.

    If you want to put the blame on the offensive line, that's fine, but that doesn't change the fact that Miller took a big step back after showing a lot of promise in 2012.

    Grade: D+

Daniel Thomas, RB

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    Daniel Thomas' 2013 season was very similar to his past two seasons—consistently bad production combined with the fanbase constantly wondering why he is on the field.

    With that said, his grade can't be too low as he entered the season with very little expectations to begin with.

    Believe it or not, he actually improved a bit on his 2012 performance. His 3.7 yards-per-carry average in 2013 was actually the best of his three-year career, and his four rushing touchdowns also tied a career high. 

    However, Thomas still put up a dreadful season and, according to Pro-Football Reference, he has been the worst running back in the league in terms of yards per attempt since getting drafted.

    Among players with at least 350 carries since 2011, he has averaged a league-worst 3.59 yards per rush. It's just one of a few reasons why the team will likely be searching for a replacement in the offseason.

    Grade: C-

Michael Egnew, TE

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It was another unproductive year for Michael Egnew, who struggled to get playing time and didn't do much to show his worth once he got on the field.

    Egnew did play in every game for the Dolphins, a vast improvement to last year where he suited up just twice, but he was only on the field for 230 of the team's 1,042 offensive snaps (22 percent).

    As a receiver, he caught seven out of 10 passes thrown to him for 69 total yards.

    Considering he was a third-round pick two years ago, Egnew has done very little to live up to his selection.

    Grade: C-

Bryant McKinnie, OT

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    After getting traded to the Dolphins from Baltimore in Week 6, Bryant McKinnie provided much-needed stability for Miami at the left tackle position.

    He started the final 10 games for the Dolphins, allowing seven sacks along with nine quarterback hits and 23 hurries.

    He allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get pressured once every 10 pass plays. He wasn't a much better run blocker either but was better than Jonathan Martin, the player he was replacing.

    Considering the circumstances he was brought to the team under, McKinnie did a decent job providing help to a Dolphins offensive line that was desperate for it.

    Grade: C-

Jason Trusnik, LB

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Jason Trusnik did the majority of his work on special teams but didn't excel in that area, earning negative grades on both the kickoff and punt teams while recording five tackles and missing two.

    On defense, Trusnik played just 185 snaps and recorded 19 total tackles. He also struggled in coverage in limited play, getting targeted six times and allowing five catches with just one pass defensed.

    Overall it was a underwhelming year for Trusnik, as he continues to be a mediocre utility player for the Dolphins.

    Grade: C-

Jelani Jenkins, LB

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    Associated Press

    Jelani Jenkins' rookie season wasn't anything special, but he did play much more than most of the other rookies in the team's draft class.

    After going in the fourth round, the linebacker out of Florida recorded 17 total tackles, playing on both defense and special teams. 

    Grade: C-

Jordan Kovacs, S

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Signed as an undrafted free agent to the Dolphins practice squad, Jordan Kovacs was promoted to the 53-man roster in Week 5 and played in nine of the team's final 12 games.

    Kovacs did all of his work on special teams, making three tackles and assisting on three more.

    It was a minimal-contribution season for Kovacs, but the fact that the undrafted rookie played in nine games for the Dolphins went above anyone's expectations.

    Grade: C

Marlon Moore, WR

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    After joining the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, Moore came back with the Dolphins midway through 2013 and didn't make much of an impact.

    Offensively, Moore caught just six passes for 56 yards, but he was solid on special teams, making five tackles.

    Overall it was a very quiet season for Moore, who had low expectations and matched that with minimal production.

    Grade: C

Tyson Clabo, OT

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    Of all of the terrible offensive line play the Dolphins had throughout the season, Tyson Clabo's performance early in the season may have been the very worst.

    Clabo allowed eight sacks over his first six games, along with six more quarterback hits and 18 hurries, allowing pressure once every eight pass plays. 

    However, after allowing a pair of sacks in a Week 10 loss to Tampa Bay, Clabo did a complete 180.

    Over the last seven weeks, Clabo allowed just one sack, three quarterback hits and 12 hurries, allowing pressure once every 19 pass plays.

    Clabo's turnaround was a big reason for the Dolphins' improved play down the stretch, but you simply can't ignore his early-season struggles either.

    Grade: C

Marcus Thigpen, RB

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    Listed as a running back, Marcus Thigpen only carried the ball six times this season but did catch eight passes for 97 yards as well.

    His big highlight came in Week 15 against the Patriots, when Ryan Tannehill found him for a 14-yard touchdown with just over a minute remaining to give the Dolphins a late lead and an eventual victory.

    However, most of Thigpen's work came on special teams where he returned both kickoff and punt returns for Miami.

    He was very underwhelming in that department, returning just two kickoffs back for more than 40 yards while averaging just 7.8 yards per punt return.

    He also didn't return a single kickoff or punt back for a touchdown and consistently struggled on deciding when to call a fair catch and when to let the ball bounce on punt returns.

    Grade: C

John Jerry, G

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    For the second straight season, John Jerry graded out as the team's worst offensive lineman in run blocking but once again proved to be a solid pass-blocker.

    Playing in all 16 games, Jerry allowed just five sacks all season—second best on the team behind Mike Pouncey. He also allowed Ryan Tannehill to get hit just four times and hurried 16, allowing pressure just once every 27 pass plays.

    Jerry will enter free agency and it's unlikely he will be brought back, as the Dolphins will be looking to rebuild their offensive line with players that can both run block and pass block.

    Grade: C

Dion Sims, TE

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    Dion Sims' highlight of the season came in Week 3 when he hauled in a beautiful one-handed touchdown catch to give the Dolphins a last-second victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

    However, that was virtually it for the fourth-round pick, who caught just five passes for 31 yards the rest of the season.

    He did get some work in the blocking game but didn't impress in his limited snaps. 

    Overall it was a relatively quiet season for Sims, but the game-winning catch does bump his grade up as he made more of an impact than most of the Dolphins draft class.

    Grade: C

Nate Garner, OL

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

    Bouncing around the interior of the offensive line, Nate Garner was very similar to John Jerry.

    As a pass-blocker he was very solid, allowing pressure once every 25 pass plays with just two sacks. However, Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-worst run blocker on the offensive just behind Jerry.

    But Garner did continue to display his versatility and value, playing left and right guard along with center at different points this season.

    While he isn't good enough to be a 16-game starter, Garner is a very important player to the Dolphins as he can fill in and be serviceable at any position.

    Grade: C+

Jonathan Freeny, LB

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Primarily a special teams player, Jonathan Freeny played all 16 games for the Dolphins this season, recording 13 total tackles.

    Just two of those tackles came on the defensive side of the ball, where Freeny logged just 26 total snaps all year.

    Although limited, the former undrafted free agent continues to see playing time and continues to give solid contributions on the kickoff and punt coverage units.

    Grade: C+

Brandon Gibson, WR

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    Prior to going down with a knee injury against the Patriots in Week 8, Brandon Gibson proved to be a very dependable wide receiver for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    Gibson hauled in 30 of his 43 targets (69.8 percent) for 326 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the two games before his injury.

    Gibson led the team in touchdowns and was second in both receptions and yards before tearing his patella tendon and being placed on injured reserve.

    Grade: C+

Richie Incognito, G

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    There are two different ways you can look at Richie Incognito's season. 

    The first is strictly on the field, where he was a very solid player. The Dolphins' struggles on the offensive line had very little to do with Incognito, who was the only member of the line to register positive grades in both run blocking and pass blocking, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Through nine games, he also allowed six sacks, three quarterback hits and two hurries, allowing the defense to get pressure once every 28 pass plays.

    However, there is also the off-the-field issues which created a firestorm of controversy around the team's locker room.

    But as I mentioned with Jonathan Martin, we do not yet know the full details, so I am basing the grade mainly on the on-field production, with just a slight penalty for the bullying scandal.

    Grade: C+

Caleb Sturgis, K

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Caleb Sturgis started the season off in a big way, making each of his first 10 field-goal attempts.

    However, he struggled as the season progressed, missing eight of his next 24 field goals, including going just one of five from 50-plus yards.

    He also didn't do very well on kickoffs, ranking just 15th in the league on touchbacks despite displaying a booming leg in the preseason and early in the regular season.

    He will very likely be the kicker in 2014 thanks to the great potential he showed to start the year, but he still has a long way to go before he earns the complete trust of the fanbase.

    Grade: C+

Dimitri Patterson, CB

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    When he was on the field, Dimitri Patterson was a stud for the Dolphins, proving to be an ideal cornerback to play opposite Brent Grimes.

    The problem was that Patterson struggled with a groin injury all year. It was an injury that only allowed him to play six of the team's first 14 games before ultimately being placed on injured reserve.

    In his short time on the field, Patterson was targeted 31 times and allowed 18 catches for 219 yards while intercepting four passes and defending three more.

    He held opposing quarterbacks to just a 51.1 rating when throwing at him. 

    The injury problems certainly hurt his grade quite a bit, but the fact is in the games he did play, the Dolphins boasted one of the best starting cornerback tandems in the league.

    Grade: C+

Don Jones, S

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    As a seventh-round pick, Don Jones wasn't even expected to make the team. Not only did he make the opening day roster, but he played in every game for the Dolphins this season.

    Playing on both kickoff and punt returns, Jones totaled 11 tackles while also forcing a fumble.

    Jones will also forever be remembered as the final player ever drafted to the Miami Dolphins by Jeff Ireland, which alone will always make fans think of him fondly.  

    Grade: B-

Derrick Shelby, DE

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    Coming off a quiet rookie campaign, Derrick Shelby had a solid season in 2013 despite playing in a part-time role.

    Playing on just 38 percent of the team's defensive snaps, Shelby recorded three sacks and 34 total tackles, with 16 of them coming at or behind the line of scrimmage on run plays.

    It is very likely his playing time will continue to increase next season, as he provides solid depth at the defensive line position.

    Grade: B-

Rishard Matthews, WR

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Aside from a breakout performance against Tampa Bay in Week 10, it was a relatively quiet season for the second-year player.

    Against the Buccaneers, Rishard Matthews caught 11 of 14 passes thrown his way for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

    However, the former seventh-round pick did very little before and after that game, with his second-best performance being a five-catch, 64-yard game against the Patriots in Week 15.

    On the season he caught a total of 41 passes for 448 yards and two scores.

    With that said, the 6'0", 212-pound receiver took a nice step forward this season and will likely be incorporated into the offensive game plan even more next year.

    Grade: B-

Mike Wallace, WR

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    The biggest free-agent signing in the offseason, the expectations for the $60 million receiver were as big as his contract.

    Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Mike Wallace's production did not live up to his hype.

    Wallace caught 73 passes for 930 yards and finished the year with a career low in both touchdowns (five) and yards per completion (12.7).

    The bright side for the Dolphins is that a large reason for Wallace's lack of production was caused by factors other than himself.

    For every jump ball that Wallace didn't fight for, there were three plays that he got a couple steps behind the defense but wasn't connected on.

    Even still, Wallace did prove to be a dangerous weapon that opened up a lot of the field, and he should see tons of improvement under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor next season.

    Grade: B-

Dion Jordan, DE

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    After the Dolphins traded up to the No. 3 pick to take him, Dion Jordan had a somewhat disappointing season, although it was largely through no fault of his own.

    Jordan played on just 29 percent of his team's defensive snaps, largely playing as a pass-rushing specialist.

    In that role, he did very well recording a pair of sacks along with four quarterback hits and 18 hurries. He put pressure on the opposing QB once every 8.5 pass plays

    Jordan also did very well in his limited time in coverage, and showed a lot of potential on what he could do in years to come—if and when the coaches decide to play him.

    Grade: B-

Koa Misi, LB

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Koa Misi had a very solid, yet unspectacular season for the Dolphins, doing a lot of little things but never really making any standout plays.

    According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the Dolphins' top linebacker (not a big accomplishment considering Ellerbe and Wheeler's seasons), but he also ranked 14th at his position among 35 outside linebackers.

    He played in 15 of the team's 16 games and finished with 38 tackles and two sacks, doing his best work as a run-stopper with 26 of his tackles coming at or behind the line of scrimmage.

    He also held his own in coverage, with opposing quarterbacks recording just a 75.3 passer rating when targeting him.

    Grade: B-

John Denney, LS

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The iron man for the Dolphins, John Denney has played all 16 games for the last nine seasons, getting on the field in 144 straight contests.

    His biggest highlight this season came in Week 3 when he recovered a huge fumble against Atlanta on a punt. He also recorded three tackles on punt coverage throughout the year.

    He isn't noticed in many games and that is typically a good thing as Denney continues to be one of the best in the league at what he does.

    Grade: B

Sam Brenner, OL

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    An undrafted free agent, Sam Brenner was signed to the Dolphins practice squad prior to the season and was activated in Week 11.

    Over the last seven weeks, Brenner bounced around the inside of the offensive line, playing center, right guard and left guard. He allowed just one sack along with two quarterback hits and 10 hurries.

    While still not good, he did grade out as the Dolphins' second-best run blocker on the offensive line, just behind Mike Pouncey.

    While he wasn't a great player for the Dolphins, Brenner certainly provided depth and some stability and played far above expectations, likely earning him a spot on next year's team.

    Grade: B

Jimmy Wilson, DB

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    In his third season, Jimmy Wilson put together a very solid year for the Dolphins.

    Wilson played in every game, doing most of his work as the nickel defensive back covering the slot receiver. 

    In that role last season, he struggled mightily, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 66 percent of their passes against him with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 99.8 QB rating.

    However, Wilson took a big step forward this year, allowing completions on 60 percent of passes thrown in his direction with opposing quarterbacks throwing for one touchdown, two picks and just a 75.7 QB rating.

    While he still is not an elite player by any means, the former seventh-round pick is continuing to grow each year.

    Grade: B

Brian Hartline, WR

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    The steady Hartline continued to be a very reliable weapon for Ryan Tannehill in 2013.

    Hartline caught 76 passes and went over 1,000 yards receiving for the second straight year, while also scoring four touchdowns.

    He also led the team in targets for the second straight year, getting 127 passes thrown his way. 

    While he continues to be an extremely efficient and reliable weapon for Tannehill, he can't be counted on as anything more than a No. 2 wide receiver. 

    Grade: B

Chris Clemons, S

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    Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

    In his final season under contract, Chris Clemons performed very well for the Dolphins.

    Clemons rated as the second-best player in coverage for Miami, behind only Brent Grimes. In man coverage, Clemons was thrown at 21 times and allowed 11 catches with two touchdowns, one interception and one pass defensed.

    When targeting Clemons, opposing quarterbacks recorded just an 82.8 rating.

    He also added 81 total tackles and proved to be extremely reliable, playing in all 16 games and sitting out just nine defensive snaps all season.

    Grade: B

Ryan Tannehill, QB

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The sophomore quarterback had an up-and-down season but improved in nearly every way from where he was in 2012.

    He overcame a porous offensive line and virtually no running game to lead the team to eight wins but fell just short of a playoff spot.

    I recently wrote a full breakdown analyzing Ryan Tannehill's 2013 season if you'd like to read about his performance more in depth.

    If I was to give him this grade for the first 15 weeks he would have gotten an A-, but his poor finish drops that down.

    Either way, the future looks bright for Tannehill, and he took a step in that direction this season.

    Grade: B

Nolan Carroll, CB

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    Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite being one of the most criticized members of the Dolphins secondary, Nolan Carroll put together a very strong season.

    Carroll was targeted 90 times on the year, allowing just 43 catches (47.8 percent completion rate) along with two touchdowns while recording three interceptions and seven passes defensed.

    When throwing at Carroll, opposing quarterbacks had just a 65 quarterback rating. He also recorded 47 total tackles and two sacks in a contract year.

    Depending on the type of deal they can sign him to, the Dolphins would be smart to try to retain Carroll as he continues to improve. He has proven to be a very strong No. 3 cornerback that can also play opposite Brent Grimes if injuries hit.

    Grade: B+

Paul Soliai, DT

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    The big run-stuffer played very well for the Dolphins in a contract year, earning positive grades from Pro Football Focus in every game but three.

    Playing in about 60 percent of the team's snaps, Paul Soliai recorded 24 tackles, 19 of which came at or behind the line of scrimmage. 

    He also recorded two sacks, nine quarterback hurries and three quarterback hits, likely playing himself into a nice new contract in the offseason.

    Grade: B+

Charles Clay, TE

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    With Dustin Keller going down with an injury in the preseason, Charles Clay stepped to the forefront of the tight end depth chart.

    Clay responded with a very impressive season, catching 69 passes for 759 yards and six touchdowns while earning the nickname "Big Play Clay" for some clutch performances late in games.

    He was also a decent pass-blocker but was very poor at run blocking.

    However, considering the fact that he entered training camp as a backup tight end and finished the season as one of Ryan Tannehill's most reliable and dangerous weapons, it's tough to be critical of the year Clay had.

    Grade: B+

Olivier Vernon, DE

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    After a quiet rookie season, Olivier Vernon broke onto the scene in 2013 thanks to a huge increase in playing time.

    Vernon's snaps more than doubled from last year and he responded with a team-leading 11 sacks, along with 32 quarterback hurries, five quarterback hits and 40 tackles.

    While he isn't nearly as efficient a pass-rusher as other elite defensive endsregistering pressure once every 11 snaps—Vernon took a major step forward and should only continue to get better next year.

    Grade: B+

Mike Pouncey, C

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    The anchor of the Dolphins offensive line, Mike Pouncey played in 14 of the team's 16 games and graded out as both the best pass-blocker and run blocker.

    Pouncey allowed just two sacks, three quarterback hits and nine hurries, allowing pressure just once every 42 plays, best on the team.

    His run blocking dropped off from 2012, but otherwise he was the lone bright spot on an otherwise dreadful line.

    His strong play earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl, and he will no doubt be the centerpiece in which the team builds the offensive line around in the offseason.

    Grade: A-

Jared Odrick, DT

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    After a very down year in 2012, Jared Odrick bounced back very nicely in 2013, putting together the best season of his young career.

    Despite seeing a slight decrease in playing time, Odrick showed an increase in production. With most of his playing time coming in passing situations, he performed very well as a pass-rusher.

    Odrick recorded 4.5 sacks on the year, while also knocking the quarterback down 13 times and hurrying him 28. In total, he put pressure on the opposing QB once every 11.1 snaps.

    He also did well as a run-stuffer, recording 43 tackles, 24 of which came at or behind the line of scrimmage.

    Grade: A-

Cameron Wake, DE

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Cameron Wake continued to be a dominant force on Miami's defensive line, making every opposing offense game-plan for him each and every week on his way to a third Pro Bowl selection in the last four years.

    Despite being limited with an injury during the season that caused him to miss a game, Wake still finished with 10 sacks. He finished just one shy of Olivier Vernon, despite playing over 200 fewer snaps.

    He also registered 41 QB hurries and 20 QB hits, getting pressure on the opposing quarterback once every five snaps.

    The former CFL star continued to prove why he is one of the game's best pass-rushers.

    Grade: A-

Brandon Fields, P

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    One of the best punters in the game, Brandon Fields continued to be one of the team's most consistently excellent players this season.

    Fields averaged a whopping 48.8 yards per puntmost in the leagueand also finished second in the league with 36 punts downed inside an opponent's 20-yard line.

    He also didn't have a single punt blocked or returned for a touchdown and consistently flipped field position for the Dolphins, earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

    Fields continues to be a very underrated, yet valuable asset to the team.

    Grade: A

Randy Starks, DT

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Playing in a contract year, Randy Starks put up arguably the best season of his career, and without question his best performance since his breakout year in 2009.

    Starks rated as the seventh-best defensive tackle in the NFL (out of 69 players), recording four sacks, six quarterback hits and 30 hurries.

    He registered pressure on the opposing quarterback once every 10 snaps, an impressive number for a defensive tackle.

    Starks also played stellar run defense, recording 48 total tackles, 31 of which came at or behind the line of scrimmage.

    Overall it was an impressive year for Starks, who may have played himself right out of Miami, likely earning himself a big contract elsewhere.

    Grade: A

Brent Grimes, CB

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    Coming off an Achilles injury that sidelined him in 2012, Brent Grimes proved to be one of the biggest steals in free agency as the 30-year-old re-established himself as one of the elite cornerbacks in the league.

    Playing on a one-year, prove-yourself deal, he answered the call as the team's defensive MVP.

    Getting thrown at 98 times, Grimes allowed 59 catches while recording a team-high four interceptions and defending 16 passes on his way to earning a spot in the Pro Bowl. 

    Of the 61 cornerbacks in the league that were targeted at least 70 times this season, Grimes was the only one to not allow a touchdown pass.

    When targeting Grimes, opposing quarterbacks had just a 66.3 rating, as Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second-best cornerback in the league behind only Darrelle Revis.

    Considering the deal he signed for and the level he played at this year, I can't imagine anyone disputing Brent Grimes earning the top grade on the team for the 2013 season.

    Grade: A+