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SB Nation's grittiest defensive players: Dolphins dominate list

SB Nation put together a list of the grittiest defensive players heading into the 2015 season. The Miami Dolphins dominated the list.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have improved their defense this offseason, building it to the point that it should dominate teams. The addition of All-Pro  Ndamukong Suh to a defensive line that already included All-Pro Cameron Wake could make the defensive line the top unit in the league, as well as ease the pressure on the linebackers and allow them to make tackles. While it is players like Suh and Wake who will receive the most media exposure, there are several players on the defense who should have big impacts.

SB Nation recently put together a list of the "grittiest defensive role players," defining them as the "out-of-the-spotlight guys who do the dirty work." The Dolphins are well represented on the list. Below you will find each category in which Miami is represented, the player, and the explanation of Danny Kelly, the SB Nation writer who created the list.

You can check out SB Nation's entire grittiest defensive players list here.

Edge Players

Olivier Vernon

Olivier Vernon will likely again find himself overshadowed this season playing next to superstars in Suh and Cameron Wake, but he'll be a key piece of that Dolphin pass rush. The fourth-year defensive end has picked up 21.5 sacks through three seasons and last year posted 6.5 to go with his 29 quarterback hurries, 12 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. He's productive and reliable in run defense as well.

Off-the-ball linebackers

Koa Misi

In Miami, Koa Misi made the move from the outside to the middle after the release of Phillip Wheeler and the trade of Dannell Ellerbe, and acquitted himself well there despite being banged up much of the season. He'll be a key role player there again in 2015, and playing behind Ndamukong Suh should open things up for him to rack up tackle numbers and potentially get involved in some pass rushing. He's a solid coverage linebacker that may not get tons of recognition, but his role will be important.

Safeties

Reshad Jones

Miami's Reshad Jones is another underrated player, and after missing the first four games of the season to suspension, played solidly both in the run game and in coverage for the Dolphins. He picked off three passes while breaking up four, and finished with 80 tackles on the year. He's poised to become more of a household name in 2015 if his play remains consistent.