7 Miami Dolphins Primed for a Breakout Season in 2014

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins 2013 season was marred by disappointment and failure. After a small scale team rebuild in the 2014 offseason, who are the seven players who will rise from the ashes of the 2013 team to take the league by storm, and the Dolphins to the promised land, in 2014?

Every year the NFL is awestruck by a batch of players who seem to come out of nowhere to burst on the scene and give opposing coaches huge problems as well as provide a spark for their own team to do great things.

We have seen the likes of Willie Parker, TY Hilton, Alfred Morris and Victor Cruz do this is the past, and we saw the Dolphins' own Olivier Vernon and Charles Clay, the latter of which earned the 89th spot on the NFL's list of the Top 100 Players of 2014, become breakout players last season.

Who will we see breakout for the Dolphins in what should be a breakout season for the team altogether? Here are the seven candidates to emerge from the ashes of the 2013 Dolphins and rise to the top of the NFL (could be one, could be none or it could be all of them. Obviously, the more flowers that bloom, the more success Miami will experience as a whole).

Lamar Miller

Miller's speed will be utilized plenty this season with outside zone runs. This is a staple of the zone-blocking scheme that the Dolphins run, but with the lack of talent on the offensive line last season (particularly at the tackle spots) this play was often unsuccessful albeit for the few times Miller was able to beat a defender around the edge.

With the additions of LT Branden Albert and 2014 first round pick Ja'Wuan James, the Dolphins should be able to seal the edge of a defense to allow Miller to go up field sooner and see less defenders on the way. This will lead to huge runs if Miller can better himself when it comes to making people miss and breaking tackles.

Miller will earn reps in this offense because of his skill set, and by season's end Miller could see himself being compared to LeSean McCoy in terms of big-play ability.

Cortland Finnegan

This will be a re-breakout season for Finnegan as his original breakout season came in 2008 when he earned his one and only Pro Bowl selection.

I predict that Finnegan, barring injury, will possess the right cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes. Finnegan will see most of the passes come his way in any given game so how he reacts and adapts to that will be intriguing, but if he can jump a few of those passes he could really effect games.

The hope for me is that Finnegan will be this year's Dimitri Patterson minus the groin injury, meaning he will have a great season after being dumped by his former team. If Finnegan can produce the same amount of turnovers as Patterson did in his limited time on the field than Miami's secondary will be tough to throw on, and that is a very good thing in this passing league that is the NFL.

Dion Jordan

The nationwide assumption that Jordan is on his way to busthood because of his limited snap count in 2013 will soon come to an end in 2014. Jordan is up to 265 pounds, which means he now has the strength to match his quickness and burst.

I fully expect Jordan to tally double digit sacks in 2014. It's tough to say whether or not Jordan will start next season at this point as Olivier Vernon continues to impress during OTAs (he's beat Pro Bowl LT Branden Albert a few times).

Whether Jordan starts or not, I am setting my bar at seven sacks for this sophomore. We will likely see a large amount of impact plays from the deep defensive end unit this season.

Koa Misi

Misi has spent three weeks as the starting middle linebacker for this Dolphins team. This is yet another position switch for Misi, but this one might be the most warranted and the most successful.

Misi hasn't been particularly impressive in his time in Miami, but he has always been a sure tackler and has always done exaclty what Dolphins coaches have asked of him.

Misi is tasked with patching the leaky run defense that Miami possessed last year, a unit that allowed nearly 2,000 yards rushing. Misi's size, strength and tackling ability will be an improvement over former MLB (now SLB) Dannell Ellerbe.

The main question with this experiment is can Misi diagnose an offense and get his teammates lined up in the correct areas? So far Misi has been very vocal in practice and has been working hard to get himself acclimated with all the calls and checks that a MLB has to make.

Contrary to an earlier report, Misi never objected to playing MLB. Misi welcomes the challenge and has been working hard to make the transition a smooth one. I am confident that Misi will plug the middle of the Dolphins' defense, the rest of the linebackers make me a bit nervous though (that's a story for another day).

Earl Mitchell

Mitchell was the perfect swap for Paul Soliai. Not because Mitchell is as good or better than Soliai, but because Mitchell comes from a 3-4 system, where he played nose tackle, to a 4-3 system which he will play defensive tackle. This is his more natural position and will allow him to take advantage of his quickness as a DT. Mitchell is also a big boy who knows how to be a space eater from his time as a 3-4 NT, so playing the run will not be a problem for this man.

Mitchell's main service will be run support, and the hope is that it's on par with Soliai's run defense. However, Mitchell also provides more pass rushing ability from the DT spot, something that Soliai didn't offer.

Mitchell will have a great opportunity to show off his skill set in this new defense that is more suited towards his talents. The only thing left to do is play the games and produce.

Rishard Matthews

Matthews has recently been released from Joe Philbin's doghouse. The Dolphins coaching staff had been upset with Matthews for being late to meeting and other careless off the field errors. This former seventh round gem has now turned himself into not only a productive and reliable receiver, but also a starter through the third week of OTAs.

If Matthews can clean up his act off the field to prove to the coaches that he can be trusted on the field, as well as learn new OC Bill Lazor's offense, Matthews could have a breakout season. Matthews can win all over the field with his combination of strength, savvy route running and soft hands.

Matthews, whose future with the Dolphins has been questioned by beat writers in Miami this offseason, is one of the Dolphins most versatile receivers and has arguably the best set of hands on the team (he may have to take that up with Jarvis Landry). Look for Matthews to put up big numbers in this new offense.

Ryan Tannehill

Obviously the success of this team depends on Tannehill's ability to have a standout season, but I genuinely believe it will happen. Tannehill is working in a non-fossilized offense for the first time in his NFL career and is working with Bill Lazor, who molded Nick Foles into the top rated passer in the NFL in 2013.

Lazor is a not only the coordinator of the offense, but he is also a phenomenal teacher. First of all, Lazor knows what he wants from his quarterbacks. He then demands it and holds the quarterbacks to a standard based on what he expects. And then, when something isn't done right, Lazor teaches it instead of electing to be just an angry guy yelling a lot.

Through these tactics Lazor will get the best out of Tannehill, and no longer will Tannehill be the forgotten quarterback from the 2012 draft class.

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