At the urging of one of our community members, OnTheGo, I decided to do a mock depth chart prior to the draft as a way to really see where this team needs the most help. To see the first part of this mock depth chart, click here. Now, onto the defensive side of the ball.
Before we get started, though, a couple of notes. First, not all players will be listed, though I'll try to get everyone on here. Second, some players will be listed twice or more. No, it's not an error. Some players, especially in this kind of defense, can play more than one position. Lastly, we are assuming the team will use a base 3-4 defense, and that's what the mock depth chart will represent.
Depth Chart: Matt Roth, Randy Starks, Derrick Robinson, Rob Ninkovich
This is going to be the make or break season for Matt Roth. He disappointed last year, but has good size and a good motor, which are two things Bill Parcells looks for. So he'll be given a shot. Starks will be right behind him (and right behind all defensive lineman because of his versatility). If Roth stumbles, I wouldn't be surprised to see Starks, an experienced player with a ton of upside, get more playing time than Roth. Robinson and Ninkovich will likely really have to impress to make the team. Robinson has a better shot thanks to his size (6'4, 290), but look for upgrades to be made.
Depth Chart: Vonnie Holliday, Randy Starks, Rodrique Wright
Just to clarify the position, it's the spot that acts as a defensive end spot in a 3-4 and then kicks inside to defensive tackle when the team goes with 4 down lineman. Holliday will be the starter here and, with an increase in salary due in '09 and '10, he'll need to impress to remain a Dolphin. Again, just like Roth, Holliday will have Randy Starks right behind him. Rod Wright is also an intriguing player. Many thought he would have made much more of a contribution last year. He still has a lot of upside, though.
Depth Chart: Jason Ferguson, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Steve Fifita
Ferguson was brought in here to start at nose tackle and will do that from day one. He's got a ton of experience and is a real asset to this defense, especially against the run. Again, you see Randy Starks as the primary backup. That's why I love that signing so much. He can play any position along the line. Mark my words: he's going to become a favorite in Miami by the end of the year. Soliai and Fifita will likely battle for one roster spot. I love Soliai's size (6'4, 344), but it hasn't translated to being a force on the field to this point. We could potentially see a nose tackle brought in either from the draft or an undrafted free agent. You can never have too many bodies along the interior line for camp.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER/DEFENSIVE END
Depth Chart: Jason Taylor, Quentin Moses, Abraham Wright
Just to clarify again, this is the position that we've seen Jason Taylor excel at the past 2 years. It's the DE/OLB hybrid spot that, most likely, will be more of a pure outside linebacker spot in Miami's defense in 2008 and beyond. Taylor is a Dolphin (for now) and is an ideal fit, as we all know, at this spot. Moses is a player who showed flashes last year and it's been heard in and around Davie that this new regime also likes what Moses can do. He's a high upside player and was one of the smart signings last year by Randy Mueller. Wright, a seventh rounder last year, impressed during camp with his explosiveness when attacking the quarterback but will have to prove he's healthy if he wants to stay in Miami. This also the spot a player like Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, and Quentin Groves would play if any of them landed in Miami.
Depth Chart: Joey Porter, Charlie Anderson, Abraham Wright, Edmond Miles,
Porter really came on the last half of the 2007 season. Perhaps that knee was bothering him following the scope he had on it during camp. This year will be a big year for him in terms of how much he can be counted on by this new regime. Anderson was brought in and is almost like the "Randy Starks" of the linebackers in that he, too, cna play all the linebacker positions. Ideally, though, he'll be a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Miles was one of the better special teams players for the Dolphins in '07. But he'll need to impress the new coaches if he wants to remain following all the improvements this staff has made to special teams.
Depth Chart: Channing Crowder, Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, Mark Washington, Marcello Church, Kelvin Smith
Crowder and Torbor figure to be the starters heading into camp, though I wouldn't be too shocked if the Dolphins addressed the inside linebacker spot earlier than some think in the draft. Anderson, again, is the top backup. Washington, Church, and Smith all figure to be battling for 1 roster spot, as competition will certainly be brought in for the other spots (whether it's the draft or some free agents). Washington had a great career at Texas State and has some potential. Smith, a bit undersized for this regime's liking, probably will battle to make the practice squad, though he is familiar with Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni from their Syracuse days.
Depth Chart: Will Allen, Michael Lehan, Andre Goodman, Travis Daniels, Nate Jones, Jereme Perry, Joey Thomas
No real changes from 2007 here except the addition of Nathan Jones, who I think will battle to be the team's dime back. I think Will Allen and Michael Lehan will be the starters entering camp. Hopefully Andre Goodman can stay healthy all year.I'd be shocked if Perry or Thomas made the final 53. Look for a rookie to be drafted at some point, possibly as early as #32.
Depth Chart: Jason Allen, Renaldo Hill, Tuff Harris, Courtney Bryan
Well this will be it for Jason Allen. If he fails to impress this year, he's officially a bust, which is shocking to me because he was a guy out of college who had (and still has) all the physical traits you need to be a great safety. It's the mental side of things that seem to get in the way. Too often, he looks lost in coverage. And I don't want to hear anyone say he played well last year. He didn't. He played average at best, and even that's pushing it. Behind him are all question marks. Hill probably won't be healthy enough for camp and the other two are nothing but marginal backups. Indeed, this is Jason Allen's one chance with a clean slate to impress the coaches.
Depth Chart: Yeremiah Bell, Chris Crocker, Keith Davis, Cameron Worrell
This will be a very interesting battle in camp. If Bell is fully recovered from the torn Achilles' he suffered in week one last year, then it'll be his job to lose. But don't count out Davis or Crocker. Davis will be a special teams star, but he also does have starting experience and is a big time hitter. Crocker also brings experience to this team. As we saw last year, you can quickly go through safeties. And with Worrell and the aforementioned Hill both not expected to be ready for camp, expect many safeties to be kept around.
I think this does help highlight areas of specific need. Sure, cornerback is a concern, but I think the defensive line needs more help than the corners. I also think an inside linebacker could very well be brought in on draft day. The lack of depth at the inside linebacker spot is a cause for concern. What happens if Crowder can't stay healthy again in 2008? Reggie Torbor starts with Charlie Anderson? Eh. I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: Let's get Beau Bell in here!!
Anyways, thoughts on any of this below...