Yesterday I discussed why I believe that Miami’s current and future depth on offense isn’t as bad as Brian Miller would have you believe. Today, we discuss the Dolphins defensive depth.
While it’s true that Ndamukong Suh’s cap number is large, the chasm between Suh’s numbers and those of other defensive linemen are closing rapidly. Fletcher Cox and Muhammed Wilkerson signed deals that push their cap numbers to ~$18/yr. Suh’s $12.6M/$19.1M cap figures in 2016/2017 aren’t outrageous by comparison.
As for the rest of the defensive line, it’s true that Cameron Wake, Terrence Fede and Jordan Phillips are the only ones that are expected to be here next year.
But what if Mario Williams returns to the double digit sack totals he posted prior to 2015 (when Rex Ryan miscast him as a 3-4 OLB)? Then you have two pass rushers, a stud DT, a still developing DT and Fede can back up any of the four DL positions.
On the other hand, if Miami cuts Williams and Earl Mitchell at the end of the season, then Miami has draft picks and $12.5M in cap space to fill out the roster with whomever they desire.
This area is the only other section of the Dolphins roster that I have to agree with Brian Miller. While Miami does have depth at linebacker, it’s mediocre/questionable depth at best.
All three starting linebackers (Kiko Alonso, Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi) all come with a good set of skills but all three also have a history of injury.
When, not if, one of the Dolphins starters gets injured, the cupboard is pretty bare. Only Spenser Paysinger has any real experience playing LB in the NFL. The other three are undrafted rookie free agents from the 2015 draft. They can all help on special teams but Miami doesn’t want them on the field playing LB for an extended period of time.
To survive in today’s NFL, each team must have at least 4 capable corners to field a competitive team on a weekly basis. Let’s see how our roster looks.
Byron Maxwell is the best CB currently on the team. He is signed through 2020 so, if he can hold his own, Miami is set at one corner spot for awhile.
Right now, Xavier Howard is the #2 CB on this team. This year’s second round pick got off to a slow start due to medical issues but the Dolphins are hopeful they have found their corner for the future.
Bobby McCain is considered Miami’s best slot corner and he is signed through 2018. As for Tony Lippett, he’s a converted WR learning to play corner due to his size and experience playing both ways at Michigan State.
And let’s not forget Chris Culliver is stashed away on PUP. If Miami runs into issues due to performance or injury, Culliver should be ready by Week 6.
Is this the ‘best’ set of corners in the league? Nobody is arguing that but when the issue is long-term depth, 4/5 of them are signed for the next 3 years.
Miami is secure with their starting safeties. Rashad Jones is signed thru 2017 so, while a holdout/extension may be in the future, Miami has their starting SS for two more years. Isa Abdul-Quddus is under contract for the next 3 years so, barring an error in scouting, Miami has both safeties under contract for at least the next two years.
As for depth, Jordan Lucas is still too young to evaluate but Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas have shown the ability to fill in when needed.
In a league where teams churn their rosters every 2-3 years, the Dolphins fit right in with the rest of the NFL. Do they have areas that need to be upgraded? Absolutely. Will Miami suffer a ‘hardship’ trying to rebuild/improve the depth on the roster? Absolutely not!