The Miami Dolphins have completed their rookie minicamp, with draft picks, undrafted free agents, and try-out players all getting onto the field as NFL players for the first time. Now that the team is past that milestone in the league calendar, the focus returns to the offseason workout program, followed by organized team activities in a couple of weeks. Before the Dolphins get to that point, we take a look at the club's depth chart, focusing on the defense this afternoon.
Defensive End (7)
The top four defensive ends should be fairly well set in stone. Behind Wake, Vernon, Shelby, and Fede, the team will be taking a hard look at Dieke, Drew, and Montgomery for either a roster position or practice squad slot.
The king of the mountain here is clearly the mountain that is Suh. Mitchell is slotted as the starter right now next to Suh, but Francis or Phillips could challenge for that slot. Either Johnson could make a case for a roster slot, while Coleman and McCarthy are likely facing an uphill battle.
The linebackers may be the hardest position on the team to place into a depth chart. Jenkins and Misi seem set, and McCain seems to have the inside track for the third starter, but really, the Dolphins are going to be rotating guys around to find the best combination to put on the field. Depth is going to be a concern for the Dolphins at linebacker, with a lot of young players going to be asked to step up and prove themselves.
There's no questioning who sits atop this group, but just behind the three-time Pro Bowler that is Grimes, it is an open competition to find the right combination. Taylor and Davis will have to prove that they are ready to start in the NFL - and that they can stay healthy after a shoulder and knee injury, respectively, ended their sophomore seasons in 2014. Brice McCain likely moves into the nickel position, while Bowman and Seamster will be pushed by rookie Bobby McCain and Lippett, who will likely be a developmental project as he transitions from wide receiver to full-time cornerback.
I did not split the safeties into strong- and free-safety positions because the Dolphins try not to play guys in those defined roles. Jones will be the strong-safety while Delmas plays free-safety the majority of the time, but everyone, including those two, will switch back and forth in Miami's defensive scheme. Thomas will likely have the Jimmy Wilson safety role this year, and could end up playing cornerback as well as safety. Aikens and Jones will need to step up and prove themselves this year, while Kovacs could hang around the roster as a special teams player and depth in the secondary. Thompson could jump ahead of Kovacs, and even Jones and Aikens, if he comes in ready to play on both defense and special teams.