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Miami Dolphins 53-man roster projection following 2016 NFL Draft

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The first 53-man roster projection following the NFL Draft for the Miami Dolphins.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have spent the last week adding rookies to their roster, both through the NFL Draft and by agreeing to terms with undrafted free agents (though the team has yet to confirm the UDFA signings). What does the presence of the rookies do to Miami's 53-man roster for 2016? We take our first shot at projecting who could make the cut, and who might be headed for the practice squad.

Quarterbacks (2)

Ryan Tannehill (5th year)

Matt Moore (9th year)

The Dolphins could easily decide to keep three quarterbacks this year, moving Brandon Doughty to the 53-man roster. At this point, however, it seems like the team can use the roster spot for someone else, filling a potential depth issue. Doughty could be stashed on the practice squad, where he could be in danger of being poached, but since he is seen as a raw prospect who needs time to develop, it does not seem likely at this point.

Running backs (4)

Jay Ajayi (2nd year)

Kenyan Drake (Rookie - 3rd round)

Damien Williams (5th year)

Isaiah Pead (3rd year)

Ajayi appears to be the starter, with Drake as the compliment. Williams has shown he can be a contributor in small uses thus far in his career, and he could hold on for another season. Pead provides some depth, as well as a younger player who can fill in right away if needed. Daniel Thomas does not make the roster in this projection, but he has to be considered as a possible depth option in place of either Williams or Pead.

Tight ends (3)

Jordan Cameron (6th year)

Dion Sims (4th year)

Thomas Duarte (Rookie - 7th round)

Cameron and Sims are guaranteed to be the top two players on the depth chart, barring any injuries. Duarte is raw, but he is a talented player who should be able to claim a roster spot and provide depth. Jake Stoneburner is a possibility to make the roster, and he would give the Dolphins good depth, especially as a blocking tight end, but I wanted to carry more cornerbacks, and this is where the trade-off fell.

Wide receivers (6)

Jarvis Landry (3rd year)

DeVante Parker (2nd year)

Kenny Stills (4th year)

Matt Hazel (3rd year)

Leonte Carroo (Rookie - 3rd round)

Jakeem Grant (Rookie - 6th round)

This seems like another place where a player could be cut to make other roster additions, especially if Carroo can prove he is ready for playing time. Assuming that he needs some time to develop as most rookie wide receivers do, Hazel should be in line to claim the fourth spot on the depth chart. Grant makes the roster primarily as a returner, but the Dolphins will look to get him the ball on offense.

Offensive linemen (9)

Branden Albert (9th year)

Laremy Tunsil (Rookie - 1st round)

Mike Pouncey (6th year)

Billy Turner (3rd year)

Ja'Wuan James (3rd year)

Sam Young (6th year)

Jermon Bushrod (9th year)

Jamil Douglas (2nd year)

Dallas Thomas (4th year)

The Dolphins could try to go with just eight offensive linemen, with additional depth on the practice squad, but that does not seem likely. In this case, the starters are Albert, Tunsil, Pouncey, Turner, and James, with Young working as the swing tackle. Bushrod provides depth at both guard and tackle. Douglas and Thomas both make the roster as young players who could still develop - with Douglas clearly having the advantage over Thomas at this point. Miami is likely going to allow a position battle for the right guard spot between Turner, Bushrod, Douglas, and Thomas, with the possibility that the fourth-place finisher loses a roster spot.

Defensive ends (5)

Cameron Wake (8th year)

Mario Williams (11th year)

Terrence Fede (3rd year)

Chris McCain (3rd year)

Andre Branch (5th year)

I do not see any way in which Miami does not keep all five of these players on the roster this year. Wake and Williams are clearly the starters, while Fede should establish himself as the top reserve. McCain should be able to make the roster as a reserve defensive end, though Miami could consider moving him to linebacker if they need the depth. Branch gives Miami a run-stopper who could develop into a pass rusher under Wake and Williams. The wildcard in the defensive end (and linebacker) depth charts could be Dion Jordan if he is reinstated by the league from his year-long drug suspension.

Defensive tackles (4)

Ndamukong Suh (7th year)

Earl Mitchell (7th year)

Jordan Phillips (2nd year)

Deandre Coleman (2nd year)

I would like to carry a fifth defensive tackle, but just do not have the roster space at this point. Suh, Mitchell, and Phillips are locks for the roster. Coleman should be the fourth player. Expect at least one defensive tackle to land on the practice squad, and it could possibly be two.

Linebackers (7)

Jelani Jenkins (4th year)

Kiko Alonso (4th year)

Koa Misi (7th year)

Spencer Paysinger (6th year)

Neville Hewitt (2nd year)

Mike Hull (2nd year)

Zach Vigil (2nd year)

Seven linebackers may be a necessity for Miami this year, especially after seeing injuries ravage the position last year and the injury history of Alonso. The odd part is, the four depth linebacker positions seem to already be filled, with Paysinger, Hewitt, Hull, and Vigil all remaining on the roster after solid performances on special teams or as fill in starters last year. There likely will not be a lot of drama when it comes to the linebacker position unless injuries or a stellar performance from an undrafted rookie happen this summer.

Cornerbacks (6)

Byron Maxwell (6th year)

Xavien Howard (Rookie - 2nd round)

Bobby McCain (2nd year)

Tony Lippett (2nd year)

Jordan Lucas (Rookie - 6th round)

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB (2nd year)

I initially built the roster with five cornerbacks, with Ekpre-Olomu on the practice squad, but I think he lands on the roster to give Miami more options in the secondary and to provide them with more depth. Maxwell and Howard are the top two, with McCain appearing to be the nickel. Lippett, in his second year as a cornerback after playing wide out in college, should see more playing time this year. Rookie Lucas should be played at cornerback this season, though the team could decide he is a safety.

Safeties (4)

Reshad Jones (7th year)

Isa Abdul-Quddus (5th year)

Michael Thomas (4th year)

Walt Aikens (3rd year)

Jones' holdout will not impact his position as the team's top safety, and Abdul-Quddus is clearly the second player. Thomas should be in the mix as the team's nickel cornerback, which seems to be his natural position and one he would like to play this year, but the team may need him as the starter if an injury occurs, or if Jones' holdout stretches into the preseason. Aikens' special teams ability will likely land him a roster spot. Shamiel Gary is in play for a roster position if Miami wants to cut another cornerback or a linebacker.

Kicker (1)

Andrew Franks (2nd year)

The Dolphins are adding undrafted rookie Marshall Koehn this offseason, and he should be able to at least challenge Franks for the roster spot.

Punter (1)

Matt Darr (2nd year)

Long snapper (1)

John Denney (12th year)

Practice Squad (10)

Brandon Doughty, QB (Rookie - 7th round)

Charles Tuaau, DT (2nd year)

Shamiel Gary, S (2nd year)

Ulrick John, OL (3rd year)

Tyler Murphy, WR (2nd year)

Rashawn Scott, WR (Rookie - UDFA)

Lafayette Pitts, CB (Rookie - UDFA)

Gabe Hughes, TE (Rookie - UDFA)

James Burgess, LB (Rookie - UDFA)

Akil Blount, LB (Rookie - UDFA)

Five of the ten practice squad positions this year are filled, for now, with undrafted free agents. Some of those players could easily move onto the roster, if they shine in training camp (Burgess being the most likely), and Miami does have a history of keeping UDFAs on the 53-man roster. John and Gary could both be poaching options, which might make Miami look for a way to keep them on the active roster. Tuaau gives the team a developmental defensive tackle to continue to groom for a depth spot if Jordan Phillips becomes the starter next to Ndamukong Suh next year. Murphy and Scott give the team some wide receiver options in case of injuries or for next year if they can develop, as does Pitts at cornerback, Burgess and Blount at linebacker. Hughes is raw as a tight end, but he has the ability to be a seam-threat receiving tight end that needs to learn to block, but could be able to stick around in hopes that those developments are made. I really wanted to find a way to keep Ryan DiSalvo on the practice squad as a long snapper that can develop for whenever John Denney retires.