The biggest area of concern for the Dolphins in 2013 is unquestionably the offensive line. Much is riding on quarterback Ryan Tannehill's ability to ascend into the upper echelon of quarterback play this season, and much of that is riding on the ability of the line to protect him. That is not to say there are no quality starters in the group, but the team will need a couple developing lineman to step up in a big way for this to be a solid unit.
Mike Pouncey - One of the premier centers in the league. A luxury for the Dolphins to have at one of the most important positions on the offense.
Jonathan Martin - For better or for worse, Martin will be the Dolphins' starting left tackle. For the offense to succeed this year, it seems Martin will need to be at least average, and early reports from training camp have been not painted the second-year player in a positive light.
Richie Incognito - A hard-nosed, dominating-at-times veteran, Incognito has assumed a leadership role on this young unit and every member of the offensive line would be well-served if his physical style of play rubbed off on them.
Potential Starter/Reserve Level:
John Jerry - Jerry possesses raw talent but has battled weight issues most of his career. If he can maintain a reasonable size and prove he's dependable, he's a starting caliber player. If not, he may lose his spot on the team.
Lance Louis - A talented free agent pick up who has battled injuries over the course of the past year, Louis is another player vying for a starting guard spot. He's a fit for what Miami does in its blocking scheme, and is a legitimate contender for the starting spot.
Josh Samuda, Dallas Thomas, Nate Garner - All three are versatile and can back up multiple spots on the line, and could find their way ahead of Jerry and Louis on the depth chart, possibly even claiming the starting spot.
Practice Squad/Who? Level:
Brian Thomas - waived/injured on August 3
Football usually starts and ends in the trenches, and when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Miami has talent there in spades. For the past few seasons, the defensive line has been the strength of the team, starting with the guys in the middle and all-world pass rusher Cameron Wake. This season, the unit might be even better.
Cameron Wake - Wake is the consummate pass rusher and the best player on the Dolphins' roster. His career-high 15 sacks in 2012 earned him All Pro and Pro Bowl recognition. The value he provides rushing from the left side cannot be understated and his presence is critical to coordinator Kevin Coyle's aggressive style.
Paul Soliai - As the ever-important 1-technique anchor of the defensive line, Soliai's work rarely shows up on the stat sheet but is integral to what the Dolphins do on defense. His size, strength and skill are one of the primary reasons Miami finished in the top-10 in yards per carry allowed last season.
Olivier Vernon - The second-year defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid has reportedly shown stark improvement during training camp and seems poised to hold a prominent role in the Dolphins defense this year, possibly serving as starting defensive end opposite Wake. Vernon showed the potential as a rookie and if the practice reports hold true, he could be one of the most exciting players to watch in 2013.
Randy Starks - After missing most of Miami's "voluntary" offseason workouts with a contract dispute, Starks has been relegated to working with the second team defense since training camp began. As one of the team's most talented defenders, it'll be unlikely that he doesn't log major snaps this season, but his impending free agency and the rise of other players may result in the continued erosion of Starks' role.
Jared Odrick - Odrick served as the team's starting right defensive end last season, but has reportedly turned in solid efforts as Randy Starks' replacement at defensive tackle in offseason camps. Miami's choice to work him there may just be to give their players a familiarity in different positions, or could signify a change in plans for the former first-round pick.
Dion Jordan - As a No. 3 overall pick, Jordan will be expected by most to contribute significantly this year. But it's likely that the team eases him in and expands his role as the season progresses, much like they did with Vernon a year ago. That being said, the former Oregon Duck is a physical specimen and it'd surprise no one if his play-making capability earns him more playing time sooner than later.
Kheeston Randall - Despite being a seventh-round draft pick and undersized for the position, Randall has become a solid rotational defensive tackle and provides depth behind the Dolphins' vaunted duo of Starks and Soliai. He's played well in camp and his spot on the team, serving in that reserve role, is safe.
Vaughn Martin - A discount free-agent addition from San Diego, Martin should get a reasonable amount of playing time backing up players at all spots of the defensive line. Many of his reviews from Dolphins practice are positive, but his grades from PFF during the last two seasons are not, ranking second-to-last in the NFL in 3-4 DE overall rating in both 2011 and 2012.
Derrick Shelby - Shelby made the roster last season as an undrafted free agent, but played sparingly in a relief role. His spot is most at risk, as the team around him has tremendous depth and the roster space may be needed elsewhere. On the other side of the coin, he's not facing much pressure from below and if Miami wants the extra depth, he'll likely be the guy.
Practice Squad/Who? Level: