Miami Dolphins 10 Impact Players Of 2015


The Miami Dolphins may not have a great roster but it’s the best roster they have fielded in almost ten years. While questions still linger on the offensive line, which can be fixed by signing Evan Mathis, ahem, the rest of the roster is pretty damn good…on paper.

Ten players are going to be needed to propel this team from playoff hopefuls to playoff bound. The rest are supporting cast members who need to step and either play above their talent level or have that light in their head turn on and “get it”.

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Ndamukong Suh

There is no question that Miami needs a Pro-Bowl season from their new defensive lineman but Suh needs to do more than just show up and play. He needs to lead and elevate the players around him. When it comes to Suh there is no denying that the talent level is more than enough to get his level of value. The question is can he turn a sub-par linebacker corp into one of the leagues best?

Forget about sacks and tackles, Suh is going to be doubled up almost every play, something he saw a lot of in Detroit. His stat line may never become one that leads the league but while Suh is being fought off in the trenches, other players are free to roam.

Earl Mitchell and Joran Phillips are ready to see a lot of playing time and with Suh occupied with two offensive lineman and possibly a running back, there is no reason that Mitchell or Phillips can’t turn in a solid statistical season. The same can be said about a young group of linebackers.

The biggest beneficiary of Suh may very well be inside linebacker Koa Misi. Misi played o.k. last season from the center spot but this year he should not be dealing with a lot of would be blockers from the offensive line getting to the next level. Freeing him up to make plays.

Koa Misi & Chris McCain

Everyone expects Jelani Jenkins to continue his 2014 season this year from the outside. The question is can McCain handle the opposite side and can Misi develop into a playmaker. Misi will, as mentioned benefit from Suh but he will still need to make plays and those plays stop offensive advances. Misi is good in coverage but he needs to get better at pass rushing and run stopping. The Dolphins need to use Misi with delayed blitzes on obvious passing downs and if they can disguise these blitzes, Misi may become a huge asset to the team. One the team can’t do without.

On the outside McCain is pushing for a starting job and he needs to show the coaching staff that he is ready to do what Jenkins did last season. If he can succeed the Dolphins linebackers could be one of the best in the NFL.

Jamar Taylor

Brent Grimes is not getting any older and he has yet to show signs that he is ready to slow down. In other words, he is a lock at one of the cornerback positions. Mid-way through the 2014 season Taylor looked as if he were ready to take on a full time role opposite Grimes but an injury ended his promising season. Thus far Taylor has looked very solid in OTA’s and mini-camp but when the pads come on he needs to continue that push.

Taylor is far from becoming a shut-down corner but he doesn’t need to be. Smart decisions will drive Taylor and he needs to continue his growth. While the team revamped the cornerbacks this off-season Taylor has the most potential to make an immediate impact on the roster from his position. The Dolphins need him to.

Lamar Miller

Say what you want about Jay Ajayi or the need to find a more consistent runner but Lamar Miller is not only serviceable he is capable as we saw last year, of making big gains at the right time. Miller needs to become more consistent in his play and I suspect that as he enters his 3rd season he will. With the Dolphins offense clicking, Miller will or should or rather needs to give the team another dimension. He needs to work on his blocking and blitz recognition as well as becoming a reliable receiver out of the back field. If he can do that, the Dolphins will have a dual threat running back.

Olivier Vernon

Contract seasons will often bring out the best of players and this year should be no different for Vernon. Vernon needs to develop a quicker move off the line to get to the passer and he may find the route to the quarterback a little easier with Suh manning the front of the line. Vernon is good in space and recognizes out routes from the running back but he has at times over pursued which has left him missing tackles that he should have made.

There is no question that Vernon has the tools to become one of the league leaders in sacks this season but he needs to put a little more consistency on the field. I think he can do that and as a result I believe that he will be a catalyst to this years success.

Cameron Wake

You can’t have a top ten list without having the best defensive end listed. Wake has been very good and Pro-Bowl worthy over his Dolphins career but he is not consistent. The addition of Suh should take some of the double team pressure off of him but we can’t forget that Wake has been handled by rookie right tackles in the past and that can’t happen in 2015. Wake has an opportunity to move on from a fan favorite to a Dolphins legend in the same vane as Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas to name two.

For all his talent Wake has yet to achieve the same accolades as the two mentioned above. He has the drive and the speed and this year the Dolphins will need it to all come together. If it does the defensive front of the Miami Dolphins will be a top five defense.

Kenny Stills

A lot has been made about Greg Jennings and first round pick DeVante Parker but Stills is the main man outside with Parker out. Stills should become a top target for Ryan Tannehill. With a combination of speed and good route running to go along with his very good hands, Stills could become Miami’s top receiver in 2015. While he assumes the role and position left vacant by the Brian Hartline departure, Stills possesses more talent.

Unlike Hartline, Stills can get deep and runs better routes. He is able to use his body well to adjust to the ball and shield defenders and Ryan Tannehill should quickly realize that. For all his talent however he was never able to really turn a corner in New Orleans and became expendable which is now Miami’s potential gain.

Ja’Wuan James

James did very well at right tackle and did a serviceable job at left tackle. The Dolphins need to keep him on the right side and let him get used to one position. James will be protecting Tannehill but more importantly he will be working alongside an inexperienced guard. Mike Pouncey will help whomever that guard may be but more often than not the right tackle and right guard work in tandem. James is going to need to play at a high level to possibly compensate for the lack of experience at the guard position.

Ryan Tannehill

Let’s just say that the teams offense will win games on the arm of Ryan Tannehill. He can’t do it alone for sure. He needs protection, a solid running game, and good receivers. The Dolphins have given him two out of three with the third coming along slowly. The biggest challenge for Tannehill will not be the deep ball but his decision making. Over the last four years Tannehill has improved as an NFL quarterback but 2015 could be his best season to date and could propel him into the top quarter of the league at the position.

Jordan Cameron

I wanted to go safety here but with the Dolphins beefing up the defensive line and the linebackers looking sharp, Safety may get a free pass this season and roam the field poaching footballs. What Miami does need however is a red-zone threat. Last season the Dolphins were the top ranked team in moving the football into the red zone but they fell considerably when it came to scoring points. That is where Cameron comes in.

Cameron can make the tough catches and he can work well in limited space. One of the best in the NFL at his position when healthy, Cameron can elevate a team by himself. He practically did in Cleveland with a lot less talent surrounding him. Given the additional improvements on offense, Cameron should be able to repeat his Pro-Bowl season of 2013. The Dolphins should be able to use Cameron when they need him the most. This is a part of the game that Miami should embrace using as Cameron could emerge as the best offensive weapon in 2015.