The Dolphins are hoping that an improved linebacker group will give the front defensive tackles more help in the running game. They need it.
In 2016 the Dolphins, as if you need reminded, ranked 2nd to last in the NFL against the run. It has been a focus of the teams defensive off-season. The question is have they done enough?
Miami released Earl Mitchell ahead of free agency in March leaving the team with Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips as the primary tackles. They added more in the draft but didn’t touch the position in free agency leaving many to believe Miami may still address the position ahead of training camp.
Ndamukong Suh: Suh has become a leader on the field for the Dolphins and it shows in his off-season attendance of voluntary workouts. Suh is still dominant on the defensive line but he can’t do everything himself. Miami needs to get better production from the front seven as a whole.
Jordan Phillips: Adam Gase called out Phillips personally as a player who needs to improve. Specifically with his consistency. Phillips is an up and down player but vocalized his agreement with Gase’s assertion. With the Dolphins relying on Phillips this year without Mitchell, Phillips will play a big role in the Dolphins successes and failures on the front defensive line.
Lawrence Okoye: Okoye has appeared on six previous NFL rosters but has yet to make it past the final 53 man release. His career has been storied for two reasons, one, he was released by the Cardinals for a parking violation at the teams facility and two, he entered the NFL undrafted after being a track and field star, discus, following the 2013 draft. That is notable because prior to that he had never played football at the high-school or college level. While athletic, he has a lot to learn if he hopes to make the Dolphins practice squad this year.
Nick Williams: Williams joined the Dolphins in October 2016 after being claimed off waivers from the Chiefs. Williams appeared in five games notching a combined 3 tackles in his season with Miami. The Dolphins gave him an extension prior to the start of free agency to keep him off the market. He has a good shot of making the roster if continues to grow.
Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor: The Dolphins took Godchaux in the 2017 NFL Draft. After addressing DE, CB, and LB earlier in the draft, Miami turned it’s attention to the defensive line after drafting an offenisve guard. Godchaux and fellow mid-rounder Vincent Taylor will be relied upon to not only make the team but provide valuable depth to an otherwise weak unit. Miami does view them as potential starters in the future.
The DT unit is not thick with experience. There is a huge drop off between Suh and Phillips naturally but the drop from Phillips to Nick Williams is considerable as well. Phillips has the talent but doesn’t play at the same level every play. Behind Williams, who has little experience himself, there are three players with even less. There are several veteran options available on the market but the Dolphins will likely wait until training camp to add any other players.