The Miami Dolphins held eight picks during the 2018 NFL Draft, adding eight rookies to the team’s roster. How do the players who were selected fit into the team’s depth chart? This morning, we break down the Dolphins’ roster and attempt to see where everyone fits.
This depth chart does not include the undrafted free agents the team has signed because those players have not officially joined the team yet. While the reports - and the players - have indicated that the will be joining the team, there could be more players who have not yet signed, or someone could have moved to a different team. There is just enough unknown that I chose to not have them in the depth chart.
On to the breakdown. Miami currently has 75 players on the roster, including the draft picks. They have been linked to 11 undrafted free agents. Rookie are indicated in italics. By a rough count of how I could see the cuts being made, I currently have 56 players on the final roster for the Dolphins, including some of the players I list as bubble players below. Obviously, the final roster can only be 53 players, so there could be some tough decisions coming as we get into training camp and the preseason.
There is not really anything surprising with the quarterbacks given Miami did not draft someone at the position. I will say, I think the Dolphins will keep three quarterbacks this year, but if one is to be cut, I feel like it is more likely to be Osweiler than Fales. Adam Gase seems to really like Fales, so it seems more likely that he would be kept on the roster than Osweiler - even with the Gase connection to Osweiler from back in Denver.
Running back (5)
The running back position saw the addition of Ballage over the weekend. He and Gore should be the backups to Drake throughout the season. I have Gore in the second position because I feel the coaches will trust the veteran more than the rookie at this point, but you can make the argument either way. Perry should make the roster as depth and a special teams player. Radcliff is probably a cut player.
Wide receiver (11)
There are a ton of receivers on the roster right now. Parker, Stills, Amendola, and Wilson should all be locked into the roster. Grant likely also has a roster spot. Ford will be given a chance to earn his spot after injury ruined his rookie year. Carroo is a bubble player heading into the offseason training programs and training camp; he has never been able to claim significant playing time and this may be his last chance to do it. Scott, Lewis, Morgan, and Owusu are all likely on the wrong side of the cut line right now, though they could work themselves into either a roster spot of practice squad position (assuming eligibility).
Tight end (6)
Two rookies were selected by the Dolphins, which gives them a pure pass-catcher and a blocking tight end to replace Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano, respectively. Gesicki jumps to the top of the depth chart, with Gray and Derby behind him. Smythe takes the fourth spot, simply because those other two are more of a pass-catcher than he is. They Dolphins could release Gray or Derby and only keep three players at the position, but it seems more likely to keep those four. Duarte and Escobar are both developmental players that could be in trouble now that the team added two rookies.
Offensive Line (13)
The offensive line did not see a rookie be selected in the Draft for the first time in team history. Tunsil, Sitton, Kilgore, Davis, and James seem to be the starting five, which will likely be followed by Young as the swing tackle, then Larsen and Asiata as guard depth. Brendel probably makes the roster to ensure there is a true center ready to fill in if needed, though Larsen could fill that role as well. Smith could be the tenth lineman if the team keeps that many. Sterup, Hickey, and Joseph need to impress early.
Defensive end (7)
Defensive end could be an interesting position to watch this year. Wake is clearly number one. Branch, Harris, and Quinn could all be the other starter, then the remaining two provide depth. If Miami could find a way to trade Branch, it seems like they would, but it will be hard to move him based on his contract; they cannot realistically cut him, given the $11.9 million he would be in dead money right now, or the $9.9 million he would be as a post-June 1 cut, which would save the Dolphins just $100,000. Harris should be coming up as a pass rusher this year after being selected in the first round last year. Miami traded for Quinn and will be looking to add him to the rotation if he is not starting. Hayes re-signed with the team and gives Miami a solid run-stopping defensive end. Malveaux and Woodard are on the outside looking in right now.
Defensive tackle (4)
With five defensive ends, including Quinn and Hayes who could slide inside to defensive tackle if needed, the Dolphins could look to make a roster-space-saving move here, but likely all four of these players are on the roster - although this is where the undrafted free agents could have the most impact.
The top three linebackers should be McMillan, Alonso, and rookie Baker this year. How they will lineup is still to be determined, but if I am the coaching staff, I am giving a strong consideration to putting Alonso back in the middle. Using Baker as the weak-side and McMillan as the strong-side linebacker seems to make sense, though the Dolphins will absolutely look to see where they fit best. Anthony probably makes it as the primary backup, while Garvin and Allen will fight for the next spot on the depth chart. Poling is seventh right now, but could rise up the boards if he practices well early. Hull is the biggest question mark. When he gets a chance to play, he is fairly solid, but the Dolphins do not seem overly enthusiastic about him either. Eight linebackers are too many to keep, but it is hard right now to figure out how it will all shake out.
Howard should continue his development into a shut-down cornerback. Tankersley appears to be in position to continue to start, though Lippett could contend for that role. McCain is the slot corner, though he could be challenged from a few of the other guys on the depth chart. Armstrong is the rookie coming in as a draft pick, giving him a little capital in making the roster. Lucas seems like a player the Dolphins have spent a lot of time developing, first as a safety and now as a cornerback, so I could seem him getting one more year. McTyer could be higher on this depth chart, and I would not argue. That would be seven cornerbacks - not including Aikens who is listed down in the safeties - which is pretty deep. The Dolphins coaches believe you never can have enough, so maybe they find a way to go that route.
Jones, rookie Fitzpatrick, and McDonald are the top three for the two starting roles. Jones will see the field for every snap (as long as he is healthy), so the split will come between McDonald and Fitzpatrick, depending on the situation; they both could also see time as a situational linebacker. Aikens appears to be in position to be the key special teams player now that Michael Thomas is no longer with the club. Smith is probably on the bubble depending on where Miami needs to make a cut. Elston is fighting for a roster or practice squad position.
Special Teams (3)
John Denney - Long snapper
Matt Haak - Punter
Jason Sanders - Kicker
Denney and Haack appear to be locked into the roster, though the Dolphins are reported to be signing an UDFA at long snapper to compete with the immortal Denney. Sanders is a seventh-round draft choice, but Miami is also supposed to be signing a UDFA kicker, so there will be a rookie versus rookie kicking competition this summer.
Connor Hilland - Guard
Quincy Redmond - Defensive end
David Steinmetz - Tackle/Guard
Jamiyus Pittman - Defensive tackle
Claudy Mathieu - Defensive end
Mike McCray - Linebacker
Buddy Howell - Running back
Jalen Davis - Cornerback
Anthony Moten - Defensive tackle
Lucas Gravelle - Long snapper
Greg Joseph - Kicker