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How was the Miami Dolphins’ roster built?

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NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC vs AFC Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As fans of the Miami Dolphins, we often hear - and talk - about the team’s roster, and how they have spent too much in the past on free agents, or how they do not draft well. Today, I decided to take a look at the team’s roster, breaking it down by how players were acquired. Are there more draft picks on the roster than we realize? Are they really doing a poor job of finding young talent? Are they over-spending to bring in free agents?

Obviously, there is some adjustment to this post from last year, when it would have included a big-money free agent like Ndamukong Suh. However, it also would have included drafted players like Mike Pouncey, Jarvis Landry, and Jay Ajayi, so it seems like it offsets to some degree.

How are the 2018 Miami Dolphins built? Time to take a look:

(Note: If a player joined the Dolphins, then became a free agent and ultimately re-signed with the team, I listed his original acquisition. For example William Hayes was originally acquired via a trade, then was a free agent this offseason before returning to Miami. He is listed as a trade acquisition.)

(Bold players are presumed starters (including nickel cornerback); italics indicate key contributors as reserve or special teams.)

Drafted Players (30)

  • Walt Aikens, defensive back - 4th round, 2014
  • Cornell Armstrong, cornerback - 6th round, 2018
  • Isaac Asiata, guard - 5th round, 2017
  • Jerome Baker, linebacker - 3rd round, 2018
  • Kalen Ballage, running back - 4th round, 2018
  • Leonte Carroo, wide receiver - 3rd round, 2016
  • Kenyan Drake, running back - 3rd round, 2016
  • Thomas Duarte, tight end - 7th round, 2016
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety - 1st round, 2018
  • Isaiah Ford, wide receiver - 7th round, 2017
  • Mike Gesicki, tight end - 2nd round, 2018
  • Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle - 5th round, 2017
  • Jakeem Grant, wide receiver - 6th round, 2016
  • Charles Harris, defensive end - 1st round, 2017
  • Xavien Howard, cornerback - 2nd round, 2016
  • Ja’Wuan James, tackle - 1st round, 2014
  • Reshad Jones, safety - 5th round, 2010
  • Tony Lippett, cornerback - 5th round, 2015
  • Jordan Lucas, defensive back - 6th round, 2016
  • Bobby McCain, cornerback - 5th round, 2015
  • Raekwon McMillan, linebacker - 2nd round, 2017
  • DeVante Parker, wide receiver - 1st round, 2015
  • Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle - 2nd round, 2015
  • Quentin Poling, linebacker - 7th round, 2018
  • Jason Sanders, kicker - 7th round, 2018
  • Durham Smythe, tight end - 4th round, 2018
  • Cordrea Tankersley, cornerback - 3rd round, 2017
  • Ryan Tannehill, quarterback - 1st round, 2012
  • Vincent Taylor, defensive tackle - 6th round, 2017
  • Laremy Tunsil, tackle - 1st round, 2016

Undrafted Free Agents (25)

  • Chase Allen, linebacker - 2017
  • Johnathan Alston, wide receiver - 2018
  • Cayson Collins, linebacker - 2018
  • Jalen Davis, cornerback - 2018
  • John Denney, long snapper - 2005
  • Lucas Gravelle, long snapper - 2018
  • Matt Haack, punter - 2017
  • Connor Hilland, center - 2018
  • Buddy Howell, running back - 2018
  • Mike Hull, linebacker - 2015
  • Greg Joseph, kicker - 2018
  • Malcolm Lewis, wide receiver - 2017
  • Cameron Malveaux, defensive end - 2017
  • Claudy Mathieu, defensive end - 2018
  • Mike McCray, linebacker - 2018
  • Torry McTyer, cornerback - 2017
  • Drew Morgan, wide receiver - 2017
  • Anthony Moten, defensive tackle - 2018
  • Francis Owusu, wide receiver - 2017
  • Jamiyus Pittman, defensive tackle - 2018
  • Quincy Redmon, defensive end - 2018
  • Rashawn Scott, wide receiver - 2016
  • Eric Smith, tackle - 2017
  • Maurice Smith, safety - 2017
  • David Steinmetz, tackle - 2018

Free Agents (23)

  • Danny Amendola, wide receiver - 2018
  • Andre Branch, defensive end - 2016
  • Jake Brendel, center - 2016 (Practice Squad)
  • Taveze Calhoun, cornerback - 2017 (Practice Squad)
  • Jesse Davis, guard - 2016 (Practice Squad)
  • David Fales, quarterback - 2017
  • Terence Garvin, linebacker - 2018
  • Frank Gore, running back - 2018
  • MarQueis Gray, tight end - 2016
  • Sean Hickey, tackle - 2017
  • Roubbens Joseph, tackle - 2018
  • Ted Larsen, guard - 2017
  • T.J. McDonald, safety - 2017
  • Brock Osweiler, quarterback - 2018
  • Senorise Perry, running back - 2016 (Practice Squad)
  • Brandon Radcliff, running back - 2017 (Practice Squad)
  • Josh Sitton, guard - 2018
  • Zach Sterup, tackle - 2017
  • Cameron Wake, defensive end - 2009
  • Albert Wilson, wide receiver - 2018
  • Jonathan Woodard, defensive end - 2017 (Practice Squad)
  • Gabe Wright, defensive tackle - 2017 (Practice Squad)
  • Sam Young, offensive tackle - 2016

Trades / Waivers (11)

Thoughts

The Dolphins actually are built through the Draft and undrafted free agents more than I think most people would realize. They do have 23 players who were signed as free agents, but seven of those were signed to the practice squad before they were brought up for any impact on the active roster. This also includes players like Cameron Wake, who was a free agent because he had already signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants before heading to the CFL. Not many of the free agents are huge money signings - again, with the move of Suh this year, that changed this - and the team is being more discerning when it comes to free agents now. They have been fairly effective in trades as well, with getting some key contributors for fairly decent value, including Alonso, Anthony, Hayes, Kilgore, Quinn, Spence, and Stills.