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2014 Miami Dolphins needs, free agents, draft, and more - Running backs and Tight Ends

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A look at the Miami Dolphins roster heading into the NFL's 2014 Free Agency period. We break down the team's needs, the top players available, and what could happen. Today, we continue with the running backs and tight ends.

Justin K. Aller

We've officially reached free agency day.  As we get ready for the madness that is this afternoon, we take a look at the status of the Miami Dolphins' roster, as well as the needs and potential solutions for each area of the roster. We've already looked at the defense and quarterbacks, now we move on to the tight ends and running backs.

Current Roster:

Number Player Position HT WT Age Exp School
42 Clay, Charles TE 6'3" 250 25 3 Tulsa
84 Egnew, Michael TE 6'5" 255 24 2 Missouri
86 Gillislee, Mike RB 5'11" 208 23 1 Florida
80 Marshall, Cameron RB 5'9" 217 22 1 Arizona State
40 Miller, Kyle TE 6'5" 260 25 2 Mount Union
23 Miller, Lamar RB 5'10" 218 22 2 Miami
32 Ogbuehi, Emmanuel TE / FB 6'3" 250 23 1 Georgia State
26 Sims, Dion TE 6'4" 262 23 1 Michigan State
34 Thigpen, Marcus RB 5'9" 195 27 2 Indiana
33 Thomas, Daniel RB 6'1" 233 26 3 Kansas State

Potential Free Agents:

Number Player Position HT WT Age Exp School
81 Keller, Dustin TE 6'2" 250 29 6 Purdue

Roster Status:

The Dolphins need to make a decision on their running back position, and it's not an easy decision.  Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were given the lead last year, and did not perform up to the level expected of them.  The offensive line had plenty of issues last season, which clearly was a large part of the problem for the rushing attack, but it may be time to find an upgrade to the guys carrying the ball as well.

Tight end appears set, at least in terms of free agency.  Dustin Keller could be re-signed, if he is willing to take another "prove-it" contract, and hopefully would be given a chance to prove it and not land on injured reserve for the year.  Even if they choose not to bring back Keller, Charles Clay proved last year to be an offensive weapon for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, with Michael Egnew and Dion Sims developing behind Clay.  Kyle Miller and Emmanuel Ogbuehi provide depth.

Top 5 Free Agents:

Tight End

Rank Player 2013 Team
1 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints (Franchised)
2 Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers
3 Scott Chandler Buffalo Bills
4 Brandon Pettigrew Detroit Lions
5 Garrett Graham Houston Texans

Running Back

Rank Player 2013 Team
1 Ben Tate Houston Texans
2 Knowshon Moreno Denver Broncos
3 Maurice Jones-Drew Jacksonville Jaguars
4 Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders
5 LeGarrette Blount New England Patriots

Top 5 Draft Prospects:

Tight End

Rank Player College
1 Eric Ebron UNC
2 Jace Amaro Texas Tech
3 Austin Seferian-Jenkins Washington
4 Troy Niklas Notre Dame
5 Arthur Lynch Georgia

Running Back

Rank Player College
1 Carlos Hyde Ohio State
2 Tre Mason Auburn
3 Bishop Sankey Washington
4 Ka'Deem Carey Arizona
5 Devonta Freeman Florida State

Nogle's Offseason Projection:

I would expect something to happen with the running back position, with free agents like Ben Tate, Maurice Jones-Drew, and LeGarrette Blount all in play.  The team could wait until the NFL Draft to try to find an upgrade, but the team seems to already have a backlog of young, unproven runners with Marcus Thigpen, Mike Gillislee, and Cameron Marshall all sitting on the depth chart.  I'll template Blount signing with the Dolphins, simply because it helps the Dolphins while hurting the New England Patriots.

At tight end, a rookie added to the group could be a consideration, and it could be an early round pick at that.  It really comes down to how the coaches feel about Michael Egnew.  If they still think he could develop, maybe the team does not need to add another pass catching tight end.  If he has hit his ceiling, Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be a selection in the second round (assuming he falls that far).

Projected Depth Chart:

Depth_chart_-_running_back_and_tight_end