Miami Dolphins defensive line depth a concern
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have listened to all of the “your offensive line needs to get better” for most of the last two off-seasons. It’s the defensive line that could be the Dolphins biggest problem in 2017.
The Dolphins are relying on a return to health for Mike Pouncey. If he is healthy the offensive line should be above average. With Laremy Tunsil on the outside left and Jermon Bushrod back at right guard, the only question is who will play the left guard spot? That’s a position that training camp will decide.
While many focus on the lack of quality depth at several Oline positions the reality is that Miami isn’t really that bad aside from a suitable replacement for Pouncey if and when he gets hurt. Ted Larsen, Kraig Urbik, Anthony Steen, Sam Young, and rookie Isaac Asiata are all going to push for playing time.
It’s a different story on the defensive line where depth could be a major concern. A concern that is highlighted by the next to last ranking against the run in 2016, The Dolphins are rolling the dice on Jordan Phillips about as much as they are on Pouncey’s recovery.
Ndamukong Suh is one of the best in the NFL but Suh’s best attributes are freeing up other players to do their jobs by taking on multiple blockers. That leaves Jordan Phillips next to him on the line.
Phillips is not a bad football player but he is inconsistent and he knows that. He must improve and the Dolphins have specifically pointed in his direction when they talk about players needing to improve. If that is how they feel, the must believe he is capable because they did little to address the line this off-season.
The biggest name added to the team was Lawrence Okoye and that’s not because he is a great defensive lineman. It’s because he was cut on an episode of “All or Nothing” for parking in the wrong parking spot. DT Nick Williams is returning for his 5th NFL season and 2nd with the Dolphins. Serviceable yes but not a full-time starter or even a full-time rotational player. Not yet.
After those four the depth chart drops to two drafted rookies. Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. While neither have had pads on yet, it’s hard to imagine the mid-round selections having any real impact on the field in 2017.
In reality, the Dolphins have Suh and Phillips, a potential option with Williams and the rest are completely unproven. As a result there is a lot of speculation that Miami could use some of their $20 million cap space to add one or two defensive tackles right before training camp starts.
One player that some are watching is Jared Odrick who is a free agent and familiar to the Dolphins.
Regardless of what their intentions are, the Dolphins need to be certain that their defensive line unit can hold up as it is now. It’s simply not deep and very inexperienced. That is not the way to head into the season. The good news is that the season still is two months away so a lot can happen and a lot can change. Who knows, maybe one of the rookies makes a bigger impact than expected.