One of the hardest things to predict in any given season is who will make the final cut to the 53 man rosters mandated by the NFL. Over the course of the next several months when the NFL is nothing more than a few off-season workouts and mini-camps, men like Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland begin the preparation of determining who will and who likely won’t make that final roster.
Each year the NFL Draft infuses talent onto teams and it always comes at the price of a veteran. Case in point, John Beck was released from the Washington Redskins before the drafts conclusion on Saturday after the Skins added two rookie QB’s to their roster pool. This year, the Miami Dolphins have drafted several players who will likely end the careers of players in Miami.
With the drafting of TE Michael Egnew, the Dolphins now have five true TE’s and one hybrid in Charles Clay. Clay isn’t going anywhere for sure but the Dolphins are not going to hold on to five true TE’s. In fact, they will likely carry only 3 max.
Anthony Fasano is the seasoned veteran but he will be a free agent after this season is over which makes him expendable to the point of looking elsewhere. While rookie TE Michael Egnew is nothing compared to Fasano in the blocking game, he is projected to be a far better scheme threat in the passing game. Behind Fasano? JeronMastrud, Will Yeatman, and Les Brown. Brown is a project but has the higher ceiling of developing into a big receiving target. A former basketball player who will be fighting for a roster spot.
Last year, the Dolphins poached Will Yeatman from the New England Patriots and Mastrud has made contributions on the field. Two of these players will not be here come September and chances are three will not be. Michael Egnew, unless he totally blows his training camp will take the roster spot opposite Fasano.
Tight end isn’t the only position to look at. In fact, you can look at the highest profile spot on the roster, QB, and wonder what is in the future for David Garrard?
On paper you would think that the Dolphins would put Tannehill at the third spot and that’s precisely what they will do. However, if Tannehill grasps the Dolphins offense early and shows he has the ability to back-up Moore immediately, the Dolphins could very well let David Garrard go in training camp. Garrards’ contract is not guaranteed. Pat Devlin will likely get stashed on the practice squad for another year. Last year the Dolphins carried only two QB’s during the season.
Wide-receiver was barely addressed in this years draft until sixth rounder B.J. Cunningham was taken. The Phins currently have 10 WR’s on their roster and none are named Brandon Marshall. In this style of offense however, the number 1 WR isn’t needed as it is in more traditional styles of offense. Safeties will usually have to cover someone leaving one on one coverage on the outside more often than not.
For the Dolphins the addition of Cunningham will not spell the end for a veteran. Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are secure, as is sophomore Clyde Gates. The questions start to center around Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace who have had more than two seasons on the roster and have yet to make a dent in playing time. The Dolphins also added Legeedu Naane in the off-season who should make the roster as well as two un-drafted free agents as well. In other words the Dolphins are gearing up for serious competition at the WR position and it’s likely that they still may add a free agent later.
Finally the addition of running back Lamar Miller will spell the end of one or two RB’s as well. The Dolphins signed Jerome Messum in the off-season as well as RB Steve Slaton. It’s likely that only one will make the roster if the Dolphins opt to carry four runners on their final 53. Messum would be my first choice to filling that fourth roster spot if that indeed is how many players are carried, however he will need to have a stellar camp to impress both the coaches and Jeff Ireland.
The Dolphins draft was a good one. It focused not only on BPA and need, but also outlined the teams directional swing to both the 4-3 on defense and the west coast style of offense. Jeff Ireland who now has completed only his second draft on his own did very well to get the pieces that fit the new schemes and systems as opposed to sticking with the “prototype” style drafts of the past four seasons.
Like all drafts though, veteran spots will be won and lost in training camp but this year, we may see a wide NFL canvas of veteran free agent releases as the training camps begin and mini-camps end.