There have been plenty of changes for the Miami Dolphins over the past week. Out are wide receiver Jarvis Landry (trade to Cleveland Browns), center Mike Pouncey (cut), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (cut), linebacker Lawrence Timmons (cut), tight end Julius Thomas (cut), guard Jermon Bushrod (free agent - signed with New Orleans Saints), kicker Cody Parkey (free agent - signed with Chicago Bears), and quarterback Jay Cutler (free agent). Coming to Miami are defensive end Robert Quinn (trade from the Los Angeles Rams), center Daniel Kilgore (trade from the San Francisco 49ers), guard Josh Sitton (free agent from Chicago Bears), wide receiver Danny Amendola (free agent from the New England Patriots), wide receiver Albert Wilson (free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs), while some players were able to be retained, including defensive end William Hayes (not yet official), long snapper John Denney, quarterback David Fales, defensive back Walt Aikens, linebacker Mike Hull, cornerback Jordan Lucas, and center Jake Brendel.
The Dolphins are thought to still be interested in returning free agent running back Damien Williams and tackle Sam Young, while other players like tight end Anthony Fasano and safety Michael Thomas could also become re-sign targets. The have also been linked to free agent running back DeMarco Murray,
In other words, there has been a lot of change for the Dolphins through the first week (four days) of the 2018 NFL league year. We take a look at the Dolphins’ roster as it current stands, with thoughts on the depth or needs the team still has.
The Dolphins likely still need to add a quarterback during the Draft in late April. A lot of fans and reporters have been pushing for a first-round quarterback - to some degree simply to take a first-round quarterback no matter which player it is - but it seems more likely the team will be looking for a passer in the second- or third-day of the selection process. The team is committed to Tannehill as the starter, but adding a developmental backup makes sense.
Running backs (3)
The Dolphins having interest in Murray and wanting to bring back Williams are both moves that would help with depth at the running back position. Drake should be comfortably locked into the starters role, with the Dolphins needing a complementary back to go with him. Miami does not want to have the “feature back” that becomes a 300 carries a season type of back, preferring to have a time-share in the backfield. Drake has 166 career carries, 133 of them last season. Perry has eight carries and Radcliff has bounced between practice squads since being an undrafted free agent signing with the Indianapolis Colts. Depth is needed badly.
Wide receivers (11)
The loss of Landry hurts, but it was not unexpected. The Dolphins made the absolute right move in grabbing the top two available slot receivers in Amendola and Wilson. Parker has to become a top receiving option in this offense now, because Tannehill does not have Landry upon whom to rely. Stills will be the deep threat option, and could become the number one option if Parker stumbles. Grant will likely remain the fourth/fifth receiver on the roster. Carroo could be facing an uphill to make the roster giving the seeming lack of faith the coaches have in him. Ford is coming back from injury last year and could be an interesting player to watch in training camp. The rest of the group will need to stand out on special teams to make an impression and claim their roster spot.
Tight end (3)
Tight end should get some attention at some point this offseason. Gray feels like he can be the top option, and he has performed well when his responsibilities have increased, but the Dolphins still need to find a true seam-threatening tight end. Landry’s trade to the Browns makes the need for a tight end even more serious, giving Tannehill a possession type of receiver who will be able to convert first downs when needed. Bringing back Fasano to be the blocking tight end could also be on the radar.
Offensive line (11)
The Dolphins likely need to add a tackle to the roster to serve as the swing tackle - which would be exactly where Sam Young would fit. Asiata is probably the biggest question mark right now. He sat out all of last year as a “redshirt” season, but the Dolphins made the move to grab Sitton and will likely keep Davis as the starting right guard, which means Asiata’s role on the roster is a question mark. The team has depth along the offensive line assuming some of the younger players are able to develop as they should.
Defensive ends (7)
Defensive ends are an interesting position group this year. The Dolphins drafted Harris last year as the assumed heir apparent to Wake whenever the Pro Bowler retires. As he was expected to take a step forward moving into his second season, the Dolphins have now added Quinn in a trade. Hayes gives the Dolphins depth and a run-stuffer. The Dolphins like Malveaux, so he will likely hang around the back end of the roster or on the practice squad.
Defensive tackles (4)
Suh not leading this group seems strange, but the team has moved on and has a good base of young talent here. Phillips proved last year he can play at a high level, though the questions of his consistency are still floating around. Godchaux and Taylor both joined the team last year and found a role. Wright should also see an increased role this year. The team could look to add another defensive tackle - including grabbing one in the first round of the Draft - but they seem like they have a solid group here.
Obviously there needs to be some work done at the linebacker position - if even just to add depth. Alonso and McMillan will assume two of the starting three positions. Anthony, Hull, and Allen all have potential to become a third starter, a nickel linebacker, or a key rotational reserve. The Dolphins adding a linebacker early in the Draft to assume a key role, potentially a starting role, is almost a must right now, especially if they can get a linebacker who will be able to cover tight ends.
This is another position group where the Dolphins have gotten much younger, but appear to have a lot of talent ready to perform. Howard started slowly last year after appearing ready to be a true shut-down corner during the offseason training program and training camp, but he got better later in the year and was asked, at times, to shadow top receivers. Tankersley suffered through injuries last year, including shoulder and ankle problems that caused him to miss games; he is still growing but he has the talent they need at the position. Lippett should be able to come back from his Achilles tear and push for a starting role. McCain will likely continue to be the nickel cornerback. Lucas is a player the Dolphins likely, moving him from safety to cornerback last year. The rest of the group will look to establish their own identity on the roster, likely through special teams play.
Jones and McDonald are the top two safeties, though Miami could be looking for someone to play more of a pure-free safety type of role. Smith will likely be the primary reserve, with Elston potentially making the roster. Aikens should be on the roster after re-signing with the team, and he is officially listed as a cornerback/safety by the Dolphins, so he will be a reserve in either position, though his main strength is on special teams. Re-signing Michael Thomas could flesh out this position group - plus bring back Miami’s special teams captain.
Special Teams (2)
Long Snapper (1)
Clearly, there is an addition that is still needed here, since there is no kicker on the roster. Denney returns to the team and continues to be an amazing long snapper despite pushing 40 years old. Haack could use some competition this offseason.