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Predicting the Miami Dolphins 53-Man Roster: Offense

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A pre-training camp prediction of how the offensive side of the Miami Dolphins' 53-man roster will shape up.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins will begin training camp this Friday with 90 players on their roster, but by the time they kick off the season we will see the roster trimmed down to just 53.

Training camp is a time where players go from back-ups to starters, a time where anything can happen when players are competing to earn any opportunities to impress the coaching staff. It's the players that succeed in not only sticking their foot in the door, but completely burst through the door once they see an opportunity that become starters (and stars) in the NFL.

Anything can happen in training camp, so it's tough to predict. Nonetheless, I present to you my predictions for who will make the roster from the offensive side of the ball for the Dolphins. The defensive make-up of the 53-man roster will be posted tomorrow morning.


Players: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

Tannehill is obviously the starter in his third year in the NFL. In his first year without Mike Sherman since his senior year in high school, Tannehill will need to take large strides quickly in order for the Dolphins to score more than the 19.8 points that the offense managed to put on the board each game in 2013.

Fortunately, there is reason to believe that Tannehill will do this. For starters, Tannehill made tremendous strides from his rookie year in 2012 to his sophomore year last year. Tannehill doubled his touchdown total and added more than five points to his passer rating, and those stats could have been much better had Tannehill not imploded with the rest of the team in the final two games of the season.

Secondly, Tannehill will be working in a new offense which will take advantage of his (and his teammates) athleticism. This new offense will be much more explosive, opportunistic and will rely less on Tannehill, contrary to Sherman's offense which required Tannehill to carry the entire offense.

Matt Moore will return as the expensive-yet-best-in-the-league back-up role. Moore might fit this offense a little better than Sherman's as it takes more shots downfield, but he will struggle with the timing aspect of the offense as Moore is a classic gunslinger who is at his best when improvising. For this reason (and the salary factor) it is possible that Pat Devlin will beat out Moore for the back-up QB spot, but not likely.

The shake-up here is that the Dolphins will only keep one back-up. It's a bit risky, but anytime you need to use your third QB it's likely that the season is headed south anyway.

Quantity: 2

Running Backs

Players: Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, Damien Williams, Mike Gillislee

I believe Miller will take advantage of Moreno's absence from camp and will continue to impress in this new offense. Miller's speed is a huge advantage in this blocking scheme that often runs "wide zone" runs which allow Miller to catch the edge with his speed.

A huge question mark in Miller's game is his ability to catch the ball coming out of the backfield. If Miller proves to be inadequate in this area then it will limit his playing time, but either way Moreno should see a fair share of snaps if he gets, and can stay, healthy (he has a history of knee issues before his recent knee scope). Moreno will earn time because of his reliability, intangibles and unique skill set, which I would describe as very diverse but not extremely dynamic.

Everyone knows by now that I like Damien Williams a lot. I'm sticking by my predictiton that he will make the roster if he doesn't have any disciplinary issues. Williams has a chance to continue to impress during training camp after a strong showing in offseason workouts, this is his time to prove what he can do when the pads come on.

The final spot came down to Daniel Thomas, Orleans Darkwa or Mike Gillislee. Thomas has to prove he can be more effective, consistent, and most importantly, more physical as the biggest back on the team. I don't think he will do that, and Darkwa reminds me a bit of a young Daniel Thomas or Arian Foster.

I think Darkwa's ceiling is not better than that of Thomas or Gillislee, who will both struggle to make the team. Gillislee gets the nod because he was very productive in the SEC when he was at Florida a few years ago. His biggest objective when camp starts on Friday will be to play as fast when the pads come on as he does in the padless practices in order to impress the coaches.

Quantity: 4

Tight Ends

Players: Charles Clay, Michael Egnew, Dion Sims, Arthur Lynch

Miami will keep at least four tight ends because one or more of these tight ends will also be used occasionally in an "H-back" role, lining up in the backfield and doubling as a fullback at times.

Clay, who earned a spot on the NFL's list of the Top 100 Players of 2014, is going to be on the roster. No surprises here.

I believe Egnew will be able to salvage his last opportunity to make something out of his career in this new offense. Dion Sims also has a chance to cement himself into the second spot on the depth chart if he can create separation and prove he has improved his blocking. However, these two are on the hot seat as neither were drafted by new GM Dennis Hickey and are facing competition from a Hickey draft pick, Lynch, and a gem of a undrafted free agent signing in Harold "Gator" Hoskins.

Watch out for Gator Hoskins. Hoskins has a real opportunity to bump Lynch, Sims or Egnew (whoever is least impressive) off of the roster with a strong training camp, but at the very least this former Marshall standout will be stashed on the practice squad.

Quantity: 4

Wide Receivers

Players: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Brandon Gibson, Armon Binns

Wallace, Hartline and Landry are all already on the 53-man roster. Matthews had a good season in relief for an injured Gibson and showed clear talent that can be molded.

Gibson is a crafty slot receiver who was one of my personal favorite signings last offseason, but he is coming off of a major knee surgery. That always raises question marks and eyebrows, so Gibson will have to prove he has returned to the form he was gaining as he was becoming one of Tannehill's favorite targets in the weeks before his injury.

Binns is the second tallest receiver on Miami's training camp roster at 6'3" and will be the tallest on the 53-man roster. Binns catch radius and strong hands are his biggest weapons. This was one of the hardest predictions to make because this receiving group is so deep and talented. Not only that, but is Binns fully recovered from his ACL tear nearly a full year ago? Will the Dolphins even carry six receivers?

Matt Hazel will end up on the practice squad in my opinion. Can he be better than Gibson, Matthews or Binns this training camp? It's very doubtful.

Quantity: 6

Offensive Line

Players: LT Branden Albert, LG Dallas Thomas, C Mike Pouncey, C Sam Brenner, RG Shelley Smith, RT Ja'Wuan James, G/T Billy Turner, T/G Jason Fox, G Daryn Colledge

Albert, Thomas, Pouncey, Smith, James and Turner all are locks to make the roster right now (though there's a possibility Pouncey could start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list).

The final three spots will be a toss up between Daryn Colledge, Jason Fox, Sam Brenner and Nate Garner, and the competition's results will be largely influenced on how Miami plans to fill the void of the loss of Pouncey at center.

Garner and Colledge are both need to play well due to their salaries. Fox needs to avoid injury and prove he can play multiple positions effectively to bring more value to his roster spot, Garner can play every position adequately, but he has a history of untimely injuries and a cap hit that makes him vulnerable.

Colledge has a bigger cap hit than Garner, but Head Coach Joe Philbin knows him from their days together in Green Bay and I think it's a likely scenario that Colledge is the Week 1 starting right guard (though I could also see a scenario where Garner is the starting center).

Cutting Garner would be unfavorable because there aren't many lineman who can play tackle effectively, but if it does happen then it shows the organization has faith in Ja'Wuan James as a 16-game starter, Fox's health and Turner as a back-up left tackle if needed (which, unfortunately, may be necessary due to Albert's health history).

It's likely that the Dolphins could drop either a defensive lineman or receiver to keep 10 offensive linemen on the roster, and if that's the case then it will be and Nate Garner because it will be a tough decision to cut this long-time Dolphin.

Quantity: 9