Miami Dolphins: 53 Man Roster Projection

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Quarterbacks (3)

Starter:  Ryan Tannehill
Backups: Matt Moore, Pat Devlin

Analysis:  I believe the Dolphins will not keep two veteran QBs on the roster for the entire season due to their impact on the salary cap.  Moore ($2.5 million) and Garrard ($2.35 million) have high salaries for 2012 with both being free agents next year.  I believe the Dolphins will place Garrard on the injured-reserve (IR) list before finalizing the 53 man roster.  This allows him to rehab until he could become available in Week 6.  If Tannehill is performing okay by that time, Moore will be traded in Week 6 and Garrard will come off IR becoming the backup — Moore has trade value, especially if a team is in need due to a QB injury.  The Dolphins will keep Devlin on the 53 man roster to prevent him from being poached from the practice squad by another team — so far, he has had a pretty good preseason.

Running Backs (4 TBs + 1 FB)

Starters:  Reggie Bush, Jorvorski Lane (FB)
Backups:  Daniel Thomas,  Marcus Thigpen, Lamar Miller

Analysis: I believe Lane will make the roster at FB, although the Dolphins could pickup a FB who has been cut from another team — I personally miss Mr. Automatic Lou Polite.  Thigpen will make the roster as a KR and PR on special teams.  Ireland will choose Miller over Steve Slaton because of Miller being a 4th round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Wide Receivers (6)

Starters:  Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee
Backups:  Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Jeff Fuller, Chris Hogan

Analysis:  I believe that there is more to the calf injury of Brian Hartline than the Dolphins have been letting on to — he has missed almost all of preseason to date.  He will be placed on IR at the beginning of the season and then become available in Week 6.  Wallace, Moore, Fuller, Hogan, Julius Priutt and Rashard Matthews have all shown flashes during the preseason.  I think Matthews, Clyde Gates, and B.J. Cunningham have not shown enough.  I took Hogan over Pruitt for 7-11 reasons.  However, I believe the Dolphins will pickup a veteran WR next weekend making the choice a moot point.  Hogan and Pruitt will be placed on the practice squad along with Matthews, if they clear waivers.  Fuller will also move to the practice squad in Week 6, when Hartline comes off IR.

Tight Ends (3)

Starter:  Anthony Fasano
Backups:  Charles Clay, Michael Egnew

Analysis:  I believe that Jeron Mastrud should make the roster before Egnew.  He is a better blocker for third and short situations.  However, Ireland will not admit that he made a poor decision drafting Egnew in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft — when, he really should have chosen a WR like Mohammed Sanu (Rutgers).  Egnew may eventually bite the dust, if a veteran TE (who can threaten the seam and block) becomes available next weekend.

Offensive Linemen (9)

Starters:  Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, Artis Hicks, Jonathan Martin
Backups:  Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, John Jerry, Will Yeatman

Analysis:  I believe that Lydon Murtha ($1.927 million) and Ryan Cook ($1 million) will be cut because of lack of performance and salary cap — Jerry ($540,000) and undrafted rookie Samuda, respectively, are more cost effective alternatives.  Garner ($1.4 million) is kept for his performance and flexibility over Ray Feinga ($540,000) and Will Barker ($540,000).  I chose Yeatman over rookie Andrew McDonald because Yeatman can play TE in a pinch and in 3rd down and short situations — this is a consequence of Ireland wanting to keep Egnew.  However, Ireland may pick up a veteran OL next weekend due the fact that Hicks has been somewhat injury prone — this makes Yeatman expendable.

Defensive Linemen (9)

Starters:  Cameron Wake, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick
Backups:  Jamaal Westerman, Kheeston Randall, Tony McDaniel, Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon

Analysis:  I believe that the Dolphins will keep 9 defensive linemen on the 53 man roster for rotation purposes and to protect against possible injuries.  Undrafted rookie Randall beats out Ryan Baker ($615,000) to backup Soliai based on preseason performance.  Undrafted rookie Shelby beats out undrafted rookie Jarrell Root based on performance to date, but things could change based on performance in the last two games.  I believe that Westerman ($615,000) is on the bubble and could be cut, if a veteran pass rusher becomes available next weekend.  Ireland will keep Vernon over Westerman because of Vernon being a 3rd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Linebackers (6)

Starters:  Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi
Backups:  Austin Spitler, Jason Trunsik, Gary Guyton

Analysis:  I believe that Trunsik ($1 million) is a real keeper based on his performance in the preseason and play on Special Teams — Philbin really likes Trunsik.  To backup Dansby at MLB, the Dolphins keep Spitler ($540,000) over undrafted rookie Cameron Collins based on Spitler’s performance in the preseason and play on Special Teams — Philbin likes Spitler.  The selection of Guyton ($720,000) over 5th round draft pick Josh Kaddu is based on preseason performance and veteran experience.  If Ireland chooses Kaddu for the 53 man roster, this will mean Ireland fears Kaddu will be poached off the practice squad and/or Ireland’s inability to admit failure — I believe Kaddu was a very poor pick and Ireland should have selected George Iloka (S – Boise State).  Do not be surprised when the Dolphins pick up next weekend a veteran LB, who can cover TEs, to replace Guyton/Kaddu.  It is worth noting that Jonathan Freeny has been a real disappointment in the preseason.

Cornerbacks (5)

Starters:  Sean Smith, Richard Marshall
Backups:  Vonte Davis, Nolan Carroll, Jonathan Wade

Analysis:  I believe the Dolphins will keep only 5 CBs based on Safety Jimmy Wilson’s ability to also play CB.  Smith, Marshall, Davis, and Carroll are locks.  Wade beats out Quentin Lawrence based on performance to date.  However, do not be surprised if the Dolphins pick up a veteran CB next weekend, if available.

Safeties (4)

Starters:  Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons
Backups:  Jimmy Wilson, Tyrone Culver

Analysis:  I have a funny feeling that the safety positions are not close to being settled.  Their overall performance has not been good.  Jones seems to be a lock as a starter and Wilson as a good backup.  But, I believe Clemons ($1.308 million) and Culver ($800,000) are on shaky ground — based not only on performance, but also on cost.  Veterans Anderson Russell and Tyrell Johnson have not looked impressive at all and are not the answer.  Next to WR and Offensive Tackle, I think Ireland will most likely add another safety before the start of the season, if a veteran becomes available — keeping in mind that if a better option could be had for around $1.3 million, then Clemons may be let go — he is a free agent in 2013.

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So, there you have it.  My first cut at the 53 man roster.  Keep in mind that this first version is after only two of the four preseason games.  Things could change based on performances in the last two preseason games.  Please note how many opportunities there are to pick up some of those famous Ireland “acorns” falling from the NFL tree — he will have 1,000 to choose from.

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What do you think?

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Tags: 53 Man Roster Jeff Ireland Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins Roster Cuts

  • Fins4ever

    Good article and I like your reasoning, especially like the idea of putting Garrard and Hartline on IR.

    I have to disagree on your WR set. Pruitt makes the team and Marlon Moore doesn’t. Pruitt is a decent WR, but a ST star.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gehauze Gene Hauze

      I must admit that I have not watched Pruitt as closely as I should have — especially his performance on special teams. For me, I think the Dolphins have too many WRs on the roster. I don’t know how they keep them all straight. None seem to perform consistently, but most all seem to have flashes of promise. I think Ireland really let Philbin down when it came to the WR position. I don’t know why he wasted a 3rd round pick on Egnew.

  • PhinFan

    Clyde gates is not a TE and will make the team over Hogan and/or Pruitt.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gehauze Gene Hauze

      Thanks for pointing out a mistake. I meant to have Charles Clay there. I will make the correction. However, I do not think Clyde Gates will make the team — he does not seem to be suited for the west coast offense.