Players to look out for in the pre-season

Oct 10, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions safety Jordan Lucas (5) reacts during the third quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 29-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
Oct 10, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions safety Jordan Lucas (5) reacts during the third quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Indiana 29-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O /

From a management perspective the pre-season is all about player evaluation and figuring out where the team has good depth and where it needs help. From a late round draft pick or undrafted player’s perspective it maybe their first and last chance to prove themselves worthy of the final 53. Here are some sleepers looking to make their case to be a Dolphin.

I have to admit I absolutely LOVE the pre-season. From a team perspective winning and losing doesn’t matter but for some individual players they are fighting for their football lives. It is like the playoffs but instead of teams competing against each other, individual teammates are trying to beat each other for a job. Nothing brings out the best in men more than an elimination competition. Get it done or go home.

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Plus who doesn’t love rooting for a guy who no one gave a chance because he was to small or to slow or played for a small school and everyone said they would never make it? It is always a long shot these players end up having long successful careers but there are the occasional Davone Bess’ and Yeremiah Bell’s and those end up being the hardest working most likeable players a franchise has.

So while Bob Griese, Nat Moore and Dick Stockton (along with sideline patrolman Kim Bokamper) are making stiff jokes, talking about local cuisine, Miami beach life and hardly paying attention to the game, here are some dark horse bubble players everyone can scream their lungs out for.

Brandon Doughty – QB

Doughty was a Dolphins 7th round pick out of Western Kentucky in the 2016 draft and Dolphins fans love him because he is a south Florida native. Born in Davie and played QB at Coconut Creek North Broward Prep high school, many people are rooting for him to make some waves in the pre-season and force Miami’s hand to carry three QB’s into the regular season. Even if Doughty fails to make the final 53 he is probably the first player Miami would try to stash on the practice squad and continue to develop for upcoming seasons after Matt Moore moves on.

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Thomas Duarte -TE

The main consensus among fans is Duarte is a lock for the final 53 but I am far from convinced. Duarte was the Dolphins 2nd, 7th round pick this past draft and is expected to compete for the 3rd TE spot behind Dion Sims and Jordan Cameron. The good news for Duarte is neither has impressed in training camp which has increased his opportunity to get a foothold on a position. This first game is vital for him to show he excels at catching the ball and that he is strong enough to block at the point of attack.

Jordan Lucas – CB

Jordan is the player I am most excited to see of this entire group. I think he was a sneaky good find for the Dolphins in the 6th round this year. Lucas has the prototypical size the Dolphins want at corner (6’0, 201) and has shown versatility to play CB and safety at Penn State. That is a huge bonus for a backup player and could contribute on special teams. Also because depth is thin at CB Lucas could surprise people and make an immediate impact as a high reserve role player during the season. He’s a guy to keep an eye on.

Bobby McCain – CB

Skill wise McCain should be a lock for a depleted secondary but considering his size limitations (5’9, 195) he maybe on the outside looking in and needing a solid pre-season to change the Dolphins belief that he might be too vertically challenged. He was a 5th round pick out of Memphis in 2015 for the Dolphins. (Interesting side note, McCain is listed by all sites as 5’9 but the official roster has him listed as 5’11. So either he grew 2 inches in a year or they are pretending he is larger than he is)

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Rashawn Scott – WR

Another born and raised Florida boy, Rashawn Scott played high school ball at Melbourne Central Florida and played for Al Golden’s Hurricanes at The U. I was very surprised Rashawn Scott didn’t warrant a team’s late round pick in the 2016 draft and thought he had a 5th round grade. The reason Scott (6’3, 203) may have went undrafted as cited by is he had some character concerns and injury issues that have plagued him while in college but if he can put those things behind him he can have a good career. Unfortunately the cards are stacked against him at the deepest spot on the team but he has the talent to pull it off.

Matt Hazel – WR

Hazel is a 2014 6th round pick out of Coastal Carolina by the Miami Dolphins who has been in a revolving waive/resigned cycle since he was drafted. Hazel has also been plagued by the Dolphins deepest position on the team and now in his third year, might be facing his last chance to make an impact.

Mike Hull – LB

Mike is a guy who caught a few people off guard after making the team last year by going undrafted out of Penn State and having a very solid pre-season. He didn’t play many meaningful snaps during the regular season and will have to re-earn his spot on the final 53 again this year. He is a very average athlete and undersized (6’0, 230) by NFL standards but he wins by being smart and tough and if he can show he’s improved his block shedding against the run he will be a lock for the final 53.

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Neville Hewitt – LB

Hewitt really caught me off guard after making the team despite being undrafted out of Marshall and not even playing for most of the teams pre-season contests. He played in all 16 games and started 2 games due to injuries. He racked up 39 tackles, 3 pass deflections and an interception. He will definitely see more action this preseason as he competes for a spot. Last year he drew favorable comparisons to starting linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

Jamil Douglas – OG

Douglas has his work cut out for him and needs to make an immediate impact this pre-season. The Dolphins added a lot of veteran depth to clean up the O-line and Douglas was outright terrible in 6 starts last year when he was a 5th round pick out of Arizona State. His six starts proved how terrible our O-line was.

Andrew Franks/Marshall Koehn – K

Someone will be named the only kicker on this roster soon and it will be one of these two. Franks was undrafted last year and handedly beat out the ultra disappointing Caleb Sturgis who Miami got scammed out of a 5th round pick on. This year Miami has brought in some more undrafted competition for the position to see if Koehn can beat out Franks. (Matt Darr is excluded and the Dolphins are set to go with him after a solid year at punter beating out long time fan favorite Brandon Fields)

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Terrence Fede – DE

A 7th round pick out of Marist by former GM Dennis Hickey, Fede has flashed potential time to time and has good size for a DE but he needs to put it all together in the pre-season considering Miami signed, Jason Jones, Andre Branch and have Chris McCain and Dion Jordan also competing for a DE spot.

Chris McCain – DE

Chris McCain is facing the same competition Fede is. McCain went undrafted out of Cal in 2014 and has been a wildly streaky player. When he is hot, he single handedly blows up the phins.comnewswire but then he recesses back into hibernation and makes us wonder why he is on the team at all.

Deandre Coleman – DT

I admittedly know very little about Deandre Coleman. He came into the league at 6’4, 295 and was undrafted but joined the Jaguars and bounced between Jacksonville, Denver and Miami since. He is now listed at 6’5, 341 and has an opportunity to help at DT as Miami like to see someone besides Suh step up on game days.

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Other noteworthy players who may be on the bubble –

Most of these young players I consider to be a bit safer either due cap repercussions, potential, prior draft investments, lack of depth or developmental patience. Tony Lippett, Dion Jordan, Damien Williams, Jakeem Grant, Walt Aikens, Billy Turner, Michael Thomas.

I’d love to hear back from other fans to see who you are most looking forward to seeing in the pre-season and why. Lets go Phins!