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State of the Miami Dolphins Roster: Grading system explained

I often times enjoy reading some of the other great blogs here at SB Nation. One blog I frequently visit because I believe it's among the very best in the entire network - not just within the NFL blogs - is Buffalo Rumblings. Yes, like all of you, I hate the Bills. But Brian Galliford and his crew do a really good job over there. And every once in a while, I feel compelled to "borrow" one of their ideas and apply the idea here at our community.

That's what I plan on doing now with this series titled "State of the Miami Dolphins Roster." In a nut shell, this will be a series of posts that help us better understand where this team' strengths are and where their obvious weaknesses are. No, we probably don't need to do this exercise to figure out what is holding us back. And yes, these breakdowns are subjective. But they should provide us with some good discussion points, spark some debate, and (most importantly) pass some time as this offseason slowly crawls along.

The evaluation system that I'm going to use to break down the roster position by position I am "borrowing" right from Brian and Buffalo Rumblings. And here is how the system works.

Tier One (Group A): This should be the easiest classification to understand. These are players most would consider "elite" at their position in the NFL. Think of the "blue and red" categories that Lefty used in his evaluation earlier this year. For example, Jake Long will be in this group when we get to the offensive line.

Tier Two (Group B, Group C): The second tier breaks down into two distinct groups. But the common denominator between 2-B and 2-C is that these are players most would consider solid starters. Are they great? No. But they aren't below average, either. These are players that this team can win with - though there are better players out there in the league. Some of these guys are borderline very good. Some are only above average.

Group B in this tier is made up of veterans - as in they are or will be 26 years of age by September 1, 2011.

Group C in this tier is made up of players 25 years of age or younger and have already made at least some kind of positive impact at their position and are considered (or is believed will be considered) solid starters. Some of the players in this particular group could even move up into Tier One as they continue to improve. Think Vontae Davis, for example.

Tier Three (Group D, Group E): Like Group C, Group D is made up of players 25 years of age or younger. But these players have not made any particular contribution and are more of a "project" right now. Potential? Yes. But that is all these players are. Think Jared Odrick when you think of 3-D.

Group E, meanwhile, is made up of players who might be forced to be starters or key contributors because the Dolphins were unable to find upgrades. These guys are serviceable. And you can win with a couple being forced into larger roles than they should be in. But they all have obvious weaknesses and the Dolphins would be wise to replace them with an upgrade if they can find one. When you think 3-E, think of a guy like Joe Berger.

Tier Four (Group F): Players that fall into this group are essentially towards the bottom of the roster and are squarely in the "Sparano/Ireland Churn Machine." These are the guys that will fight just for those final few spots and are easily replaceable with street free agents as necessary. These guys are essentially your roster filler and nothing more.

Everyone got it? Good. The series will get underway tomorrow with a look at the quarterback position. I'll link back to this grading system explanation at the start of every post for the series as a refresher for what the scoring system actually means.