Time to continue our annual look at the Miami Dolphins’ roster, our 90-in-90 series, with another look at a veteran player. As the Dolphins’ offseason training program continues, moving into the Organized Team Activities and veteran minicamp period starting next week, we take a daily look at one player on the team’s roster, breaking down what they did in 2017, why they could progress in 2018, why they could regress in 2018, and whether we think they will make the regular season 53-man roster.
Today is day six of our series. We have completed a look at wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, running back Buddy Howell, and wide receiver DeVante Parker. Now we turn back to the defense with a look at defensive end William Hayes.
Hayes was traded to the Dolphins before the 2017 NFL Draft, moving to South Florida from the Los Angeles Rams, where he had played since 2012. In his first season with Miami, Hayes appeared in ten games before a back injury landed him on the injured reserve list and ended his season. In those ten games, Hayes recorded 19 tackles and one sack, with the Dolphins using him more in running situations to set the edge rather than being a pass-rushing defensive end. He re-signed with the Dolphins just as free agency began in March.
Why he will progress
Another year with the team in a defined role should be good for Hayes. He is not asked to be a dominating pass rusher, but rather is looked to as the solid defensive end who can help improve Miami’s rush defense. He has the flexibility to play inside as a defensive tackle, and the Dolphins are expected to take advantage of that this season, rotating him into the middle to provide disruption from there.
Why he will regress
Hayes turned 33 earlier this month, so his age could become a factor. The Dolphins do a good job of rotating their defensive line to try to keep everyone fresh, including players like Hayes and the 36-year-old Cameron Wake. That does, however, mean fewer snaps for Hayes, especially as the team looks to get younger players like Charles Harris and the bevy of young defensive tackles more playing time.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Hayes should make the roster as a veteran depth player with the versatility to play outside and inside. The coaches really seemed to like what he brought to the team last year, prior to his injury, and he should continue to be used primarily in run situations and a player who can set the edge and force a running back into the middle of the defense. He is a near lock for the roster, both because of the skill he has, as well as his $4 million in dead money if he is released.