Well today is a big day. It's the day all NFL teams must cut down their rosters to 53 players. Across the league, tough decisions are being made. For players on the roster bubble, last night was probably a sleepless night. And by 4 pm eastern today, their NFL dreams could either be realized or come to a temporary halt.
Of course, those who are cut could still land with another team or get re-signed to the practice squad. Likewise, those who squeak onto the roster could still find themselves without a job if their team decides they like a player cut by another team more. So it's important to consider that though we will have a 53 man roster later today, it's likely that the very bottom of the roster will look differently by the time the middle of the week comes.
With that said, everyone seems to enjoy putting together their 53 man roster prediction. So I figured I would throw mine out there, too. I've listed it below, followed by some comments on it.
Quarterback (3) - Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen
Running Back (5) - Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard, Lousaka Polite
Wide Receiver (5) - Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Marlon Moore, Patrick Turner
Tight End (2) - Anthony Fasano, David Martin
Offensive Line (9) - Jake Long, Vernon Carey, Jake Grove, Joe Berger, John Jerry, Richie Incognito, Donald Thomas, Lydon Murtha, Pat McQuistan
Defensive Line (7) - Kendall Langford, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Marques Douglas, Tony McDaniel, Charles Grant
Inside Linebacker (4) - Karlos Dansby, Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins, Micah Johnson
Outside Linebacker (5) - Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, Ike Alama-Francis, Charlie Anderson, Erik Walden
Cornerback (6) - Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Will Allen, Nolan Carroll, Benny Sapp, Jason Allen
Safety (4) - Yeremiah Bell, Chris Clemons, Tyrone Culver, Reshad Jones
Special Teams (3) - Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, John Denney
So that is how I believe the final 53 will look by the time the day is done today. Truth be told, is practically identical to the 53 man roster I put together in the last version of the "Roster Bubble Watch." The only difference is that Nate Garner's on the IR now an his roster spot has been taken by Pat McQuistan, whom the Dolphins acquired on Friday in a trade from Dallas - and who is similar to Garner in that he can play many different spots along the offensive line.
Which decisions will be the toughest for the Dolphins to make today? I see four of them:
-Patrick Turner vs Roberto Wallace: I think that the Dolphins are very intrigued by Roberto's size and raw ability. But he's just that - raw. I also don't know if the coaches want to give up on the former 3rd round pick so quickly. That's why I have Turner just barely squeaking by onto the final 53.
-Erik Walden vs Quentin Moses: I have been writing off Moses for the past couple of years. But with the ascension of Alama-Francis, I think that Moses will lose out to Walden simply on special teams merit. Walden is one of the best special teamers on this roster. With that said, though, I wouldn't be surprised to see neither of these two make it. After all, Walden may be a good special teams player. But I am having a hard time coming up with a group of eight inactive players so that Walden is actually active on game days.
-Jason Allen vs Nate Ness: Ness was an early camp/preseason break-out favorite. But he didn't finish camp and the preseason as strong as he started it. Of course, Allen wasn't very good, either. But Allen is a core special teams player. But Ness can play special teams, too, and wouldn't be nearly as expensive. So don't rule this year out as the year Jason finally gets cut.
-Lydon Murtha vs Pat McQuistan vs Cory Procter: I have two of these three sticking. But there is a chance only one makes it. Procter and McQuistan were both with Sparano in Dallas. Both are versatile backups. But you have to assume that McQuistan's acquisition on Friday was proof that the coaches aren't particularly high on either of the other two.
I know some are going to try and predict who ends up on the practice squad. Keep in mind that those moves don't occur until the players clear waivers, meaning we won't know who gets re-signed to the practice squad until Monday afternoon. Still, my best guesses would include John Nalbone, Roberto Wallace, Chris McCoy, Austin Spitler, Nate Ness, Jonathan Amaya, and Ryan Baker.