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Dolphins 53-man roster prediction: First cut day edition

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NFL: Miami Dolphins Facility Tour Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL calendar reaches the deadline for the first round of cuts this afternoon, with every team needing to be down from 90 players to the 75-man limit by 4pm ET today. With that deadline looming, we take this opportunity to look a little further ahead, predicting the 53-man roster for the Miami Dolphins.

It has been eight days since our last 53-man roster prediction, during which time, the Dolphins have released some players and traded away Chris McCain. How have on-the field play and off the field roster moves changed things?

Here is our latest 53-man roster prediction:

Quarterbacks (3)

Ryan Tannehill
Matt Moore
Brandon Doughty

Changes: None. This position still looks like all three could make the roster. Tannehill will be the starter, Moore has returned to practicing after a concussion, and Doughty provides depth if Moore has a setback.

Running backs (4)

Jay Ajayi
Arian Foster
Damien Williams
Kenyan Drake

IR: Isaiah Pead

Changes: Add Kenyan Drake from IR, Isaiah Pead to IR from roster. The top three on the roster appear to be set, with Ajayi and Foster the top two, and Drake, who is set to make his debut on Thursday as Miami hosts the Tennessee Titans in the final preseason game of the year, given his draft status. Williams is a question mark. He has the talent to have a role with the offense and he has shown some good running early in training camp and the preseason, but the emergence of Pead as a weapon, assuming he is healthy, may push Williams out of a roster spot. If Pead is going to be slowed to start the year, Miami could IR him with the plan to bring him back. If he is going to be healthy, look for Miami to potentially cut Williams.

Tight ends (3)

Jordan Cameron
Dion Sims
Dominique Jones

Changes: None. Cameron’s drops recently are an issue, but not so much that he is in danger of losing a roster spot. Sims will be locked up as the second-string tight end. Jones has done enough to earn the third tight end position. The wildcard here could be Thomas Duarte, who may not have earned a roster spot based on his play as of yet, but he does have potential and draft stock, so if Miami thinks he is worthy of protecting, he could find a way onto the roster.

Wide Receiver (6)

Jarvis Landry
DeVante Parker
Kenny Stills
Leonte Carroo
Jakeem Grant
Griff Whalen

Changes: Add Griff Whalen. The top five positions on the roster appear to be locked, with Landry, Parker, Stills, Carroo, and Grant all in position to make the roster. The team potentially keeping a sixth receiver is the question mark, with Whalen in position to claim the sixth spot if there is one available. He played snaps with the first team offense again during the last preseason game. It’s not a position that is solid, but with the other roster moves that have been made, there is a spot available and Whalen slides onto the roster.

Offensive line (10)

Branden Albert
Laremy Tunsil
Mike Pouncey
Jermon Bushrod
Ja’Wuan James
Billy Turner
Ulrick John
Anthony Steen
Dallas Thomas
Jamil Douglas

Changes: None. The last update added Douglas to the roster as depth due to the injury to Pouncey, and he continues in that position now. The Tunsil injury this week seems minor, but is a concern. That keeps Thomas on the roster for now, though he likely will be the offensive lineman to be cut if the team only keeps nine.

Defensive end (5)

Cameron Wake
Mario Williams
Andre Branch
Jason Jones
Terrence Fede

Changes: Chris McCain off roster (due to trade). The defensive end position is deep, which explains the McCain trade. The move does appear to lock in the five players most likely to make the roster.

Defensive tackle (4)

Ndamukong Suh
Earl Mitchell
Jordan Phillips
Julius Warmsley

Changes: None. Warmsley is quickly moving up in value, and probably is pushing to be the starter next to Suh, especially if Mitchell cannot return to form right away as he comes off his calf injury. Phillips is an enigma at this point, pretty much disappearing over the summer.

Linebackers (6)

Jelani Jenkins
Kiko Alonso
Koa Misi
Spencer Paysinger
Mike Hull
Neville Hewitt

Changes: None. Linebacker is a hard one to predict, with a lot of question marks at the position, especially the depth behind Jenkins, Alonso, and Misi. Now, Jenkins is hurt, having undergone an arthroscopic knee procedure this week. A seventh linebacker on the roster may be a necessity, which could cost Whalen, as the sixth wide receiver, a roster spot, but for now, six linebackers are on the roster.

Cornerbacks (5)

Byron Maxwell
Xavien Howard
Bobby McCain
Tony Lippett
Lafayette Pitts

PUP: Chris Culliver

Changes: None. Howard should make his debut this week against the Titans, and, hopefully, will be able to establish himself as the second cornerback on the depth chart. Maxwell will clearly be the top option at the position, while McCain and Lippett will likely see plenty of playing time. Pitts has played well and will provide depth. Culliver will probably be activated during the season.

Safeties (4)

Reshad Jones
Isa Abdul-Quddus
Michael Thomas
Walt Aikens

Changes: None. Jones and Abdul-Quddus will start, with Thomas the primary backup - as well as a likely nickel option throughout the season. Aikens continues to develop as a safety and special teams player.

Special Teams (3)

P: Matt Darr
K: Andrew Franks
LS: John Denney

Changes: None. Any position battles within the special teams players ended this week with the release of kicker Marshall Koehn and long snapper Ryan DiSalvo. That locks up the three spots on the roster.