The Miami Dolphins continue to prepare for the 2016 NFL season, starting with the team's first Organized Team Activities scheduled for next week. While the team will be focusing on their first on-field practices with the entire team - rookies and veterans - as well as beginning the installation of the new offensive and defensive schemes, the coaches and front office will also be starting their evaluations of players who will or will not make the regular season roster.
Each NFL team is authorized to carry 90 players during the offseason and regular season, but they can only have 53 players in the regular season. That means the team must use the offseason training program, training camp, and the preseason to cut 37 players and get their depth chart set. The Phinsider has been laying out a position-by-position projection of how those roster cuts could go this year.
Obviously, changes will happen. Players will be released to make space for other signings. Injuries will sideline players. Someone will unexpectedly breakout and earn themselves a roster spot out of no where.
The breakdown moves to the seventh edition, this time taking a look at the tight ends:
Jordan Cameron - 6th year
Cameron did not have the year he expected to have coming to Miami as a free agent last year, but that can be said about a lot of players in Miami, and for the Dolphins as a whole. A 2013 Pro Bowl selection, the third of his four years with the Cleveland Browns, Cameron was hoping to be able to put up numbers similar to his 80 receptions for 917 yards with seven touchdowns from that year. Instead, he finished the 2016 season with 35 receptions for 386 yards with three touchdowns. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has said the team is excited about the different ways they can use Cameron this year, and has stressed that Cameron fits the team's new offensive scheme, so he should have a better year in 2016.
Dion Sims - 4th year
Thomas Duarte - Rookie (7th round)
Sims was expected to step into a larger role with the offense in 2015, his third year in the NFL. Instead, he literally was knocked out in the first game of the season, spending a month sidelined with a major concussion. After he came back, he fell into the same under-used situation that impacted Cameron. The team chose to use Sims more as a blocking tight end, helping a struggling offensive line, and he only caught 18 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown. This year, coming back fully healthy and into a new offense, Sims should, once again, be poised to breakout. Duarte gets the nod as the third tight end, mostly because the team used a draft pick on him and because he has the potential to be the split-out style tight end the NFL nearly demands in the modern game. Duarte will have to prove he can be an in-line blocker, and that he is worthy of the position during training camp and the preseason, or else he could be headed toward a practice squad position.
Jake Stoneburner - 3rd year
Stoneburner could claim the roster spot held by Duarte in this projection, either by playing himself into the spot, or by Duarte needing time to develop. Stoneburner was an afterthought most of the 2015 offseason for the Dolphins, but then ended up playing in 11 games, with one start, once injuries started mounting last year. He caught five passes on five targets, with 47 yards and two touchdowns. If he can show continued development this offseason, he could fight his way onto the roster.
Gabe Hughes - Rookie (UDFA)
The Dolphins signed Hughes as an undrafted free agent, knowing he needed time to develop. Stashing him on the practice squad seems to make sense, assuming he shows the potential to turn into an NFL tight end.
MarQueis Gray - 4th year
Dominique Jones - 3rd year
53-man roster prediction (24/53)
Tight ends (3)
Jason Jones (Updated after article)
Cleyon Laing - defensive end
Isaiah Pead - running back
Deandre Coleman - defensive tackle
Matt Hazel - wide receiver
Griff Whalen - wide receiver
Spencer Paysinger - linebacker
Jake Stoneburner - tight end
Practice squad (6/10)
Brandon Doughty (rookie) - quarterback
Farrington Huguenin (rookie)- defensive end
Charles Tuaau - defensive tackle
Tyler Murphy - wide receiver
Rashawn Scott (rookie) - wide receiver
Mike Hull - linebacker
James Burgess (rookie) - linebacker
Gabe Hughes (rookie) - tight end