The Miami Dolphins are into their Organized Team Activities, getting the full roster on to the practice field (minus Thomas Duarte, who is still in school at UCLA and cannot joint the team until the academic term ends in June). From now until the start of the regular season in September, the coaching staff will be installing entirely new offensive and defensive schemes, trying to find the right way to use the talent on the roster, and, unfortunately, figuring out how to make the 90-man roster they currently have fit the 53-man roster limit mandated by the NFL for the regular season.
The biggest question for the Dolphins this offseason - and, honestly, the last few years - has surrounded the offensive line. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been the most sacked and second-most hit quarterback since entering the league in 2012, and it has impacted his play. Have the Dolphins finally fixed the issue? Will Tannehill take the next step if he actually has time in the pocket?
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been working our way through the Dolphins roster, breaking down how the 53-man roster could shake out over the next few months. We have built our roster breakdown position-by-position, projecting a depth chart along the way. Will it be right? Probably not because there is always someone who breaks out during training camp and the preseason, making themselves invaluable, coaches will decide one depth player has more value on special teams than another, and there will be some turnover at the bottom of the roster as the front office and coaches look at free agents still available.
But, it does not mean the projection will be completely wrong, either. The majority of the regular roster is already in Miami, and the starters are fairly well locked in. Could a cornerback beat out rookie second-round pick Xavien Howard to take the spot opposite Byron Maxwell? Absolutely. Will an injury shuffle things up somewhere along the line? Of course. And, do some position battles - like right guard - still have to be decided? Yes.
Part nine of our roster breakdown series now turns to the offensive line.
LT: Branden Albert - 9th year
LG: Laremy Tunsil - Rookie (1st round)
C: Mike Pouncey - 6th year
RG: Billy Turner - 3rd year
RT: Ja'Wuan James - 3rd year
The Dolphins return two Pro Bowl caliber offensive linemen in Albert and Pouncey, as well as James who is developing into a good right tackle. The team had question marks at both guard positions, but seems to have at least filled one of those spots with the unexpected availability of Tunsil in the Draft. The right guard position will be a battle this offseason, with Turner likely to have the slight lead heading into OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. Miami needs the offensive line to finally settle into a line than can open running lanes and, ultimately, protect Tannehill.
Sam Young - 6th year
Jermon Bushrod - 9th year
Dallas Thomas - 4th year
Jamil Douglas - 2nd year
Young ,should serve as the swing tackle for the Dolphins, able to fill in for either James or Albert if needed, though the team could also look to move Tunsil outside to left tackle if needed, then replace him at left guard. Bushrod, Thomas, and Douglas all will be in the battle with Turner for the starting right guard spot. Bushrod also provides depth at tackle, while Thomas could also be looked at as a tackle option if the coaches think he can be developed out there. Douglas has a chance to continue to develop into his potential.
Jacques McClendon - 6th year
Kraig Urbik - 8th year
Ulrick John - 3rdyear
There are only nine offensive linemen on the roster here, so there is definitely a chance the team could look to keep one more, and one of these three has the chance to claim that extra spot. The front office saw what happens when you lose your only center when Pouncey was hurt last year, so McClendon could have a shot at earning a roster spot, based solely on that fact. Urbik has starting experience at both guard positions, which Miami could see as a benefit to the younger players battling for the starting position this year. John was signed mid-season last year off the Indianapolis practice squad and could have a position as a depth option at tackle.
Ruben Carter - Rookie (UDFA)
The practice squad does not have a lot of space, meaning only one offensive lineman lands on the taxi squad. John could also claim a spot on the practice squad, but for now, a center/guard is the only player on it as Miami looks to develop Carter to be the reserve behind Pouncey.
Vinston Painter (guard) - 2nd year
Anthony Steen (guard) - 1st year
53-man roster prediction (44/53)
Offensive lineman (9)
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 (9/10)
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
Ruben Carter (rookie) - guard/center