The Miami Dolphins are set to host the St. Louis Rams for their last pre-season game of the year. This game is typically used as an evaluation for the bottom end of the roster, and that will very much be the case this week.
There are a bunch of battles going on all over the roster and the Miami Dolphins task of cutting the current 75 man roster to 53 will not be fun. Plus you have to account for the scouting the Dolphins are conducting at the moment on the rest of the league to supplement the areas of the roster they feel are undermanned.
So with all of that said, the following projection of the Miami Dolphins’ 53 man roster for week 1 is still going to be off by 1 to 3 spots because of the inevitable waiver wire or street free agent pick up(s).
Ryan Tannehill – Matt Moore
The Miami Dolphins, with their most talented roster in the Philbin era, will only carry 2 QBs on the active roster with Seth Lobato or another player pick up on the practice squad for a rainy day. Tannehill looks poised for another jump in his development and Moore continues to be one of the more dependable reserves in the league.
Knowshon Moreno – Lamar Miller – Damien Williams – Marcus Thigpen
Moreno showed more vision in one game than Miller has shown his whole career. With Moreno as the starting back and Miller as a change of pace, they could form to be an effective 1-2 punch. UDFA Damien Williams looks to have beaten out Orleans Darkwa and Daniel Thomas for the third RB spot, although there is still one game to go. Thigpen is a RB/WR hybrid player whose true value comes as a returner, with his competition failing to impress during his brief absence, I see him surviving until he proves ineffective or Jarvis Landry shows he’s a better option.
Charles Clay – Dion Sims – Gator Hoskins
Clay has become the unquestioned leader of this group, with Sims providing the true inline Tight End for the Offense. Hoskins is cut from a similar cloth as Clay and is the only player on the roster with the versatility capable to fill in for him just in case, plus he’s a playmaker. Kyle Miller may be kept as Sims’ backup but either way, neither of them should feel safe because they are playing for their roster spots not against on another but against the league’s waiver wire.
Brian Hartline – Mike Wallace – Brandon Gibson
Rishard Matthews – Jarvis Landry – Damian Williams
Hartline remains the the crafty route returner with sneaky speed, while Wallace provides the deep threat that opens up the field for all the skill players. Gibson is a reliable veteran presence in the slot while Matthews and Landry provide youth and toughness to the group. Williams is the second best true deep threat on this roster and provides special teams value.
Branden Albert – Daryn Colledge – Samson Satele – Shelley Smith – Ja’Wuan James
Nate Garner – Billy Turner – Dallas Thomas – Mike Pouncey
With Pouncey on the shelf, Satele steps in to hold down the fort. Smith has seized the RG spot with good run blocking, while Colledge and Albert provide veteran stability on the blind side. James looks to be the perfect draft pick, starting from day on at the RT position, assimilating quickly to his new surroundings. Garner is a swiss army knife, capable of filling in wherever needed on the line. Turner and Thomas provide youth and developmental prospects, both capable of playing guard or tackle. Jason Fox and Sam Brenner could make this team, but look for them to be on the outside looking in with the front office scouring the waiver wire. This unit as a whole has talent but needs to mature and gel quickly.
Cameron Wake – Olivier Vernon – Randy Starks – Earl Mitchell – Jared Odrick
Derrick Shelby – Dion Jordan – Terrence Fede – Anthony Johnson
Dion Jordan will start the season suspended, but the primary rotation will be strong even with his absence. Wake, Vernon, Starks, Odrick, Mitchell, and Shelby bring plenty of heat on opposing QBs and are all stout against the run. Rookie Fede has been a pleasant surprise as has been UDFA Johnson. This by far the strength of this team.
Koa Misi – Dannell Ellerbe – Phillip Wheeler – Jordan Tripp
Chris McCain – Jason Trusnik – Jelani Jenkins
Misi has taken to the transition to Middle Linebacker relatively well but needs more reps and will learn by fire soon enough. Ellerbe looks comfortable back in his old position outside while Wheeler hasn’t had as seamless the transition as Ellerbe. Fighting to hold off surges from a couple of rookies in McCain and Tripp who continue to flash when given the opportunity. Trusnik provides special teams prowess, veteran leadership, and a utility Linebacker. Jenkins is athletic but still young and seems to have fallen out of favor with new Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner. This may have him in danger of getting released.
Ben Grimes – Cortland Finnegan – Will Davis – Jamar Taylor
A very solid pair of veteran starters in Pro Bowler Grimes and former Pro Bowler Finnegan, with 2 young promising reserves in Davis and Taylor. Overall though, this is a thin unit which could use one more quality body, but with 3 safeties that can play at corner in a pinch, they may try to carry only 4 true corners into the regular season. Expect them to pick up a Cornerback or 2 for at least the practice squad if not the active roster.
Louis Delmas – Reshad Jones – Jimmy Wilson
Michael Thomas – Don Jones – Walt Aikens
Reshad Jones will start the season suspended, so Wilson will have to step in for him in the interim. Delmas looks to be an upgrade from Chris Clemons last year. Thomas and Aikens like Wilson provide versatility with the ability to play on the corner in a pinch. Thomas and Wilson can also play the slot corner spot. Don Jones is a quality special teamer whose spot is in danger due to his inability to standout on base defense.
Caleb Sturgis – John Denney – Brandon Fields
Sturgis is hurt and has the Dolphins bringing in Kickers left and right. This may be an issue to start the year. Hopefully the Dolphins can get him healthy or bring in a veteran like Jay Feely who was cut earlier this week.
On The Bubble
Damien Williams – Gator Hoskins – Damian Williams
Marcus Thigpen – Anthony Johnson – Don Jones
UDFA’s Williams, Hoskins, and Johnson are trying to pull off what few players in their positions can, and that is make an active roster after going undrafted. Thigpen has to continue to perform as a returner or else he could find himself on the waiver wire pretty quick especially if another returner becomes available that draws Dennis Hickey’s fancy. Don Jones and Damian Williams the WR, face crowded position groups which make making the final roster tricky.
Kyle Miller – Jason Fox – Kamal Johnson – Daniel Thomas
Miller is a true in line TE and could provide insurance to Dion Sims. Fox is a swing Tackle who may be valuable due to his ability to play LT better than swiss army knife Nate Garner. Thomas has the difficult task of regaining the coach’s confidence and has 1 game to do so. Johnson has played well in the pre-season and is a bonafide practice squad addition if he makes it through waivers.
There are plenty of ways this roster can shape up to look like, but the hope is that the way it ends up is good enough to make this season exciting and enjoyable for fans with a playoff appearance. FINS UP!!