Depth was a problem for the Miami Dolphins in 2012. That should change this year following key acquisitions in both free agency and the draft. Who will win the battles at their respective positions? Here are five key position battles to watch closely over the coming weeks and months.
Randy Starks sat out of the OTA's in protest at receiving the team's franchise tag. Meanwhile, Jared Odrick took over from Starks, starting alongside Paul Soliai during minicamp, and impressed. Should Odrick continue to improve his performances, will he become a starter in 2013 at the expense of either Starks or Soliai? Probably not. But if Odrick continues to impress, one of Starks or Soliai could be made expendable at the end of the season. Vaughn Martin and Kheeston Randall round out what is arguably the strongest position of this Dolphins team.
Lamar Miller is the hot favorite to become the team's feature running back. However new kid on the block Mike Gillislee might have something to say about that. The rookie was the first University of Florida running back in almost ten years to rush more than 1,000 yards in a season, finishing with 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012. Good performances early on may also serve to push Daniel Thomas further down the pecking order. This is a big season for Thomas, who may be on his last chance saloon to prove to the coaches that he deserves to be on the team. Don't rule out last season's kicker returning star Marcus Thigpen either, who may make a bigger than expected impact at the position.
Dan Carpenter is due $3.02 million this upcoming season. By comparison rookie Caleb Sturgis' rookie contract is worth $2.3 million over four years. But that's not the only reason why Carpenter's position may be at threat. Carpenter missed some key kicks last year that should have enabled Miami to win more games. And lets not forget that teams don't usually draft a kicker in the 5th round to sit on the sidelines. The job could be Sturgis' to lose.
Miami signed veteran free agent Brent Grimes alongside rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively. That should add some nice competition for Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll. May the best man win in a crowded cornerback position.
How do you beat the New England Patriots? Stop Tom Brady from throwing the football. Put pressure on Brady, and we can beat the Patriots. Dion Jordan will start his career as a pass rushing specialist while Cameron Wake will continue to serve as the team's man threat coming off the edge. Jared Odrick should see some reps at the position too. Should Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby continue to develop, Miami have a promising unit to work with this year.
What do you think? Do you agree with the position battles above? Are there any other position battles that should be put under the microscope? Lets hear your thoughts.