With the Miami Dolphins fresh off their dress rehearsal for the regular season and tasked to trim their roster to 75 prior to their final pre-season game at Sun Life against the New Orleans Saints.
I’m putting on my General Manager suit and Head Coach cap to help me project the final 53 man roster for the 2013 Miami Dolphins.
Below you’ll find a tentative 53 man review with the understanding that 5-8 spots at the bottom of the roster stand subject to change once the Dolphins put their claims in on cuts from other teams and browse free agents in hopes to improve the bottom end of the roster and overall team depth. Understand, the bottom of the roster will be subjected to “mucho” churning during the course of the offseason, so without stating more of the obvious, at the end I will provide a list of my last 10 on and my last 3 off, stay tuned.
Quarterback- Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin (3)
Tannehill is the unquestioned starter with Moore as the established veteran back-up. Devlin’s position is in jeopardy as one the last players to make the 53, a hand injury that’s nagged him this off-season begs the question, is being teacher’s pet to Coach Philbin enough to save him?
Tailback- Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Marcus Thigpen (4)
Miller and Thomas form Miami’s primary tandem, while Thigpen plays jack of all trades roll as a returner, tailback, and receiver. Gillislee gets the nod over Jonas Gray due to his special teams ability, but doesn’t stand on stable ground.
Fullback- Evan Rodriguez (1)
Rodriguez gets the nod over Jorvorski Lane because of his superior special teams ability and versatility to contribute at H-Back and TE. Really it’s a toss up though, does Coach Sherman save Lane and how long do either stick if a viable starting TE becomes available?
Tight End- Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, Dion Sims (3)
With Dustin Keller’s injury, Clay is pushed into the forefront, his versatility and seniority give him first crack at the starting spot. Egnew has improved from last season and is the team’s best seam threat now. The rookie Sims is the unit’s best blocker and has solid hands. Fins will be looking to upgrade depending on what becomes available.
Wide Receiver- Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Marvin McNutt (5)
Miami’s top trio one of the best in the league and probably Miami’s best formation after Keller’s injury. Matthews is back from his injury to continue developing in the passing game and serve as a special teams contributor. McNutt may be saved by his college coach but is in danger to be replaced by waiver wire pick up, Matthews isn’t too safe either.
Offensive Line- Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Tyson Clabo, Will Yeatman, Dallas Thomas, Josh Samuda, Lance Louis (9)
Jerry returns to solidify front 5, Yeatman is kept as team’s best back up LT, Thomas is a high round rookie and can play LG and RT, Louis is kept to push Jerry for his starting spot as he gets healthier, and Samuda makes it on as team’s most dependable interior back-up. Louis and Yeatman stand with highest probability to be replaced.
Defensive Line- Olivier Vernon, Paul Solai, Jared Odrick, Cameron Wake, Dion Jordan, Randy Starks, Kheeston Randle, Derrick Shelby, Vaughn Martin, A.J. Francis (10)
Unit of strength with 3 Pro-Bowlers in Wake, Starks, and Solai. Odrick and Martin can play DE in a pinch, which gives Miami enough versatility to make room for carrying 6 DTs on the roster, saving Francis who would be hard to stash on the practice squad. Vernon, Jordan, and Shelby gives Miami 3 young, up and coming pass rushers to compliment Wake that all possess their own unique versatile skill sets.
Linebacker- Phillip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Josh Kaddu, Austin Spitler, Jonathan Freeny (6)
Miami’s starters Wheeler, Ellerbe, and Misi are fast, physical, and versatile while their back up linebackers are inexperienced and mainly special teams contributors. If a starter went down, Miami would be in trouble, look for Miami to scour the market for a back-up linebacker with base defense potential, jeopardizing Spitler and Freeny’s spots as Kaddu offers pass rush potential and is the better performer on base D.
Cornerback- Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, R.J. Stanford (6)
Grimes has been an off-season steal, Patterson has surprised by fitting in so well and made Richard Marshall expendable. Nolan Carroll has to fight to hold off rookies Davis and Taylor, look for the rookies to surpass Carroll by the team’s bye-week. Stanford makes it on for his special teams contributions but probably is the first player off after a pick up.
Safety- Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson (3)
Jones and Clemons form one of the better safety duos in the league while Wilson’s versatility allows him to back-up at both safety spots and the nickel corner spot while holding down his role in the dime package and on special teams.
Special Teams- Brandon Fields, John Denny, Caleb Sturgis (3)
Fields is one of the best punters in the league, Denny just got an extension, Sturgis beat out Dan Carpenter already, turning a Pro-Bowler into a journey man, and has had a perfect pre-season so far.
So there’s my projection of the final 53, fell free to tweet, comment, or share your thoughts, below you’ll find my last 10 on and last 3 off as promised, FINS UP!
Last 10 On
1. R.J. Stanford 2. Marvin McNutt 3. Vaughn Martin 4. A.J. Francis 5. Austin Spitler
6. Jonathan Freeny 7. Evan Rodriguez 8. Lance Louis 9. Pat Devlin 10. Mike Gillislee
Last 3 Off
1. OG- Nate Garner 2. OLB- Jason Trusnik 3. S- Kelcie McCray