The Miami Dolphins begin their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this week, beginning on Tuesday for the first three days of practices. During Phase 3 of the NFL's offseason training program, teams can hold on-field 11-on-11 practices, without contact, over 10 days of OTAs and a three-day mandatory veteran minicamp.
It is also during this time that players can really begin working to secure a roster spot for the 2016 NFL season. NFL teams are allowed to carry 90 players during the offseason and into the preseason, but have to cut that down to the league's regular-season limit of 53 players.
The Phinsider Dolphins roster breakdown continues, looking to project the Miami 53-man roster, broken into a depth chart format, for every position on the field. This afternoon, the breakdown moves to part eight, with a look at the cornerbacks.
Byron Maxwell - 6th year
Xavien Howard - Rookie (2nd round)
Nickel: Bobby McCain - 2nd year
The Dolphins head into the 2016 season with a completely revamped cornerback position, but one that still leaves a lot of questions in need of answering. Can Maxwell play like the cornerback he was in Seattle, or did Miami land the player who was overpaid in Philadelphia? Will rookie Howard be able to immediately step into an NFL starters role? Will McCain grow into the nickel corner that would appear to be his natural position as a professional?
Tony Lippett - 2nd year
Jordan Lucas - Rookie (6th round)
Lippett spent most of last year as a spot-reserve player, working to convert from being a college wide receiver to a full-time NFL cornerback. He has the skills to be able to make the transition and seems to fit the exact mold defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wants in his cornerbacks. Lippett could challenge Howard for the starting position at the beginning of the season. Lucas is the in-between player, having spent time at both safety and cornerback in college. The Dolphins seem to view him as a cornerback, but he is going to be raw and need some time to develop - though he could make an immediate contribution as a special teams player.
Only carrying five cornerbacks at this point is offset by the presence of Michael Thomas, who will make the roster as a safety but is naturally a cornerback. He provides depth and the ability to play a big-nickel type of package in a role similar to Jimmy Wilson a few years ago.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - 1st year
There was demand for Ekpre-Olomu when he was waived by Cleveland this offseason, but it is based solely on potential. He is probably a nickel type of corner, and could be in a battle with McCain for the top spot - if he is healthy. The former first-round prospect saw his draft stock plummet in 2015 when he sustained an ACL tear near the end of Oregon's 2014 season. Selected in the seventh round by Cleveland, Ekpre-Olomu missed all of the 2015 season for Cleveland. Miami claiming him off waivers made a lot of sense in April, and it still does now with little owed to him against the salary cap and a player who could return to his college form if his knee finally becomes healthy - but that is a big "if." At this point, without seeing him back on the field, Ekpre-Olomu ends up on the bubble.
Not having any cornerbacks on the practice squad is a little disconcerting, but the practice squad is filling up quickly and a position had to be created. Could one of the younger cornerbacks still claim a practice squad position? Absolutely.
Chimdi Chekwa - 5th year
Tyler Patmon - 3rd year
Lafayette Pitts - Rookie (UDFA)
53-man roster prediction (35/53)
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
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - cornerback
Practice squad (8/10)
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