A new week means it is time to resume the breakdown of the Miami Dolphins' 2016 roster. Currently, the team has 89 players against the NFL's offseason 90-man roster limit, plus Dion Jordan who is still on the suspended list awaiting re-in-statement from the league at some point this summer and defensive end Jason Jones expected to sign a free-agent deal with the team on Monday. Miami will have to cut that roster down to the league mandated 53-man roster before Week 1 of the season in September. How will the roster look when the cuts come? The fourth part of the "Breaking down Miami's roster" series continues to project that answer.
There will be obvious changes between now and the start of the season, with things like the signing of Jones impacting what the roster could look like. There will always be churning at the bottom of the roster, and there will be veterans, like Jones, added. The majority of the roster, however, is likely to look very similar to what the Dolphins have right now.
(Note: Jones has been added to the roster listing below, giving the Dolphins six defensive ends projected to make the roster. The Dolphins could be considering Cameron Wake's injury, along with the age of Wake and Mario Williams, in carrying extra depth at the defensive end position. The addition of Jones could lead to the team considering Terrence Fede, Chris McCain, or Andre Branch expendable, but cutting the younger players from the roster would put the team in need of established defensive ends in the next few years.)
This morning, the breakdown series moves to the defensive tackles.
Ndamukong Suh - 7th year
Earl Mitchell - 7th year
This is a position where a starter is not necessarily locked into one of the top positions on the depth chart. Suh is obviously a starter, but next to him, Mitchell could be in a position battle during training camp. The Dolphins could be a dominant defensive line this year, especially if Suh returns to a form that lands him a Pro Bowl spot after missing the all-star game last year. The team needs to be better against the run, which is likely the top job for Mitchell this year.
Jordan Phillips - 2nd year
Chris Jones - 3rd year
The Dolphins keeping six defensive ends with the addition of Jason Jones this week really gives them five defensive tackles as well, with Jason Jones sliding inside when needed. The team keeps Phillips, a second-round pick last year, who should push Mitchell for the starting position as he continues to develop at the NFL level. Chris Jones was a sixth-round pick in 2013 of the Houston Texans, but was released and picked up by the New England Patriots, where he started 11 games in his rookie season, then 11 more games in his sophomore campaign (28 total games played) before missing all of last year with a calf injury; Miami claimed him off waivers in April in order to provide depth at the position.
Deandre Coleman - 2nd year
Coleman could very easily claim a roster spot, and likely should be on an NFL roster. He seems to be that fringe player who every team keeps around, sometimes on their roster, sometimes on the practice squad. The Dolphins will have to figure out exactly how they want to use their roster space this year, but Coleman could be the odd man out with the Jason Jones signing.
Charles Tuaau - 2nd year
The Dolphins could look at Tuaau two different ways, either as a future nose tackle if the team wants to become a hybrid 4-3/3-4 team, or as a potential future offensive lineman. The Kansas City Chiefs, with whom Tuaau signed as an undrafted free agent last year, did experiment with him on the offensive line before cutting him prior to the season. If he has the ability to play on both sides of the ball, Tuaau provides some flexibility for the Dolphins. He spent his college career split between two junior college and Division II Texas A&M-Commerce, so there is a steep learning curve still ahead of Tuaau, but the Dolphins could try to stash him on the practice squad and see if anything develops.
53-man roster prediction (16/53)
Jason Jones (Updated after article)
Defensive tackles (4)
Cleyon Laing - defensive end
Isaiah Pead - running back
Deandre Coleman - defensive tackle
Practice squad (3/10)
Brandon Doughty (rookie) - quarterback
Farrington Huguenin (rookie)- defensive end
Charles Tuaau - defensive tackle