The Miami Dolphins report to training camp in less than a week. Leading up to the first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, we are going to work our way through the team's roster, breaking down each position and looking at the depth chart.
Having already completed the quarterbacks and running backs, we now turn to the tight ends.
There really are not a lot of battles going on around the tight end position, with the only real question being who between Harold Hoskins and Kyle Miller can hold on to a roster spot. Currently, the depth chart essentially looks like:
First Team: Charles Clay
Second Team: Michael Egnew / Dion Sims
Third Team: Arthur Lynch (R)
Fourth Team: Harold Hoskins (R) / Kyle Miller
Clay is obviously the starter, and could be in position to become not just a start in Miami, but around the NFL. He was named to the NFL Top 100 Players list this year, and will hopefully back that up with another "breakout" year in 2014.
Behind Clay, Egnew and Sims will likely see equal playing time, both serving as the second tight end at times. Egnew could gain a slight edge in number of snaps, based on early reports that the team is starting to use him more like his role at Missouri, where he was simply a pass catcher, than the Dolphins have tried over the last two years, where they wanted him to be an in-line blocker. The team also has put Egnew in the backfield during Organized Team Activities and minicamp, using him as a fullback. If the 24-year-old, 2012 third-round pick can get on the field in all those roles, he could have a good year for the Dolphins.
Lynch gets slotted in as the third team player at this point, simply because he was a draft pick this year. Teams usually do not give up on a fifth round pick the same year he was selected, which should mean the Georgia Bulldog is safely on the Dolphins 53-man roster. Ideally, he is pushing Sims and Egnew for the second team position, and potentially a roster spot, but he is at least going to be the fourth tight end on the roster.
Behind Lynch, Hoskins and Miller could be facing an uphill battle. In two years in the league, Miller has appeared in one game, during his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins claimed Miller off waivers as the Colts tried to put him back on their practice squad, and he has been a mainstay on the 53-man roster since, but the presence of Lynch, as well as Hoskins, should endanger his roster position. Hoskins is a wildcard this preseason. He has a lot of talent, but is raw. If he can put together a solid training camp and preseason, the Dolphins could have to make a decision between trying to stash him on the practice squad and protecting him with a 53-man roster position.
Lynch, Hoskins, and Miller could all help their roster stock by finding a niche on special teams, whether that's coverage, returns, or both.
The Dolphins will likely carry four tight ends into the season, but could someone force them to find a spot for a fifth? Will they decide Lynch, Sims, and Egnew all serve basically the same role, and let one of the three walk? There is not really a position battle for the tight ends, but there could be a big bubble watch.