The Miami Dolphins are building their roster in preparation of minicamps, organized team activities, and training camp. They are closing in on the NFL's 90-man offseason roster limit, then will spend the summer making the tough decisions as they cut that roster from 90-men to the 53-man roster they will carry during the season.
Instead of waiting for all of that, we take a shot at filling out the 53-man roster today - and it's sure to be wrong. In fact, I am pretty sure as I am writing this, the Dolphins are probably making a roster move, just so it is immediately wrong.
WIth that said, here is my first shot at figuring out the 53-man roster. Please note, that while this does have a look of a depth chart, this is not necessarily saying who I project in each position on the final depth chart (for instance, Brent Grimes is not the number two corner behind Finnegan):
(Nothing overally remarkable here. Currently, these are the three quarterbacks on the roster
(Brock Jensen is reportedly in Miami, but no announcement of his signing has been completed yet.) See update below. )
Running back (4):
(This is the first of the hard cuts. Marcus Thigpen loses his roster position right now, and I don't really want to see him cut, but I think Thomas manages to hang on to the roster for now. Reports are that he is coming to camp ready to prove he deserves to stay, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt until we see something. I will assume Cameron Marshall is headed for the practice squad again.)
Wide Receiver (5):
(Miami only kept four wide receivers most of the year last year, but it bit them at times due to injury. I give them four main receivers, with Wallace, Hartline, Gibson, and rookie Landry, with fellow rookie Matt Hazel sneaking onto the roster. The issue here is going to be Armon Binns and Reshard Matthews are both players who could still be in Miami's plans. This will be a position to watch in training camp.)
Tight End (4):
(Clay is the clear starter. I think Egnew, Sims, and Lynch also all claim a roster spot this year.)
(This is a tough one, as I only have three tackles listed. I am taking a risk here, but I think it's an acceptable risk because so many of the offensive linemen are versitile enough to fill in if needed. Garner, Turner, and Thomas could all slide into the position if needed during a game.)
(I went a little deeper on guard than I did on tackle, again, because of the versitility. These guys end up being the deeper reserve tackles if needed.)
(Center is a little easier to project than the rest of the offensive line. Pouncey will start, with Brenner behind him. Don't be surprised if Brenner is in the mix for a starting guard position, however.)
Defensive End (5):
(I went deep on the defensive line, with 10 total ends and tackles. Not sure the Dolphins carry that many, especially if they are trying to add wide receivers or linebackers, meaning Shelby and Fede could be in a battle.)
Defensive Tackle (5):
(At the defensive tackle position, Francis is the most likely to be cut, but I think the coaches like him. They keep bringing him back to the club, and I think they would like to find a way to keep him. If they simply cannot keep five defensive tackles, Aaitui and Francis will have to fight for the last spot.)
(I'm weak at linebacker, mainly because I am carrying so many linemen. Ellerbe, Misi, and Wheeler are the obvious players. Jenkins and Tripp get the nod as the reserves in this scenario. Jason Trusnik is the question mark. There are several UDFAs who could feature in the mix, especially if you add in the practice squad.)
(The Dolphins are pretty deep at cornerback, with five listed, plus Wilson at safety likely continuing to play as the nickel cornerback. Grimes will start on one side, while Finnegan and Taylor battle to start on the other. Davis and Aikens come in as the reserves, giving them more time to develop - though don't rule Davis out as the nickel with Wilson moving to becoming a true safety.)
(Once again, we find another position where the team is deep. In this case, I think Jones could be the player on the chopping block if the safeties have to be cut down. Wilson should make the team as the nickel/reserve safety role he has had the past couple of years. Thomas showed enough last year to warrant taking a flyer with him on the roster again in 2014.)
(For the special teams players, Sturgis and Fields are set. I would imagine John Denney is as well, though, if it comes down to it, I could see the team having to release him to find room for someone else on the roster. In that case, there are several players on the roster who could do the job, with Egnew a candidate as the coaches had him working on it last year.)
Now, it's up to you. Who did I leave off the 53-man roster? Who is on it that shouldn't be (and don't everyone answer Thomas and Egnew)?
[UPDATE 5:02pm ET:]
Did I call it or what? As soon as I hit publish, I see this tweet:
The team has signed quarterback Brock Jensen and linebacker Chris McCain. #FinsUp— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 19, 2014
I won't change my 53-man roster projection, but they did sign someone as I wrote this - and not just the expected Jensen signing.