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90-in-90 Miami Dolphins roster breakdown: Walt Aikens

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NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are on to day two of their first Organized Team Activity today, while we move to the eighth day of out 90-in-90 look at the Dolphins’ roster. This player-by-player look at the roster works through all of the players, from the returning veterans to the undrafted free agents, with no particular order of how we run through the roster.

The series breaks down what the player 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. We have completed a look at wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, running back Buddy Howell, wide receiver DeVante Parker, defensive end William Hayes, and wide receiver Isaiah Ford. Today we move to the defense with safety/cornerback Walt Aikens.

2017 Review

Aikens was a fourth-round pick by the Dolphins in 2014, and has primarily played as a reserve safety and cornerback, while excelling on special teams. He played in all 16 games for Miami last year, recording two defensive tackles as well as seven special teams tackles.

Why he will progress

The Dolphins did not re-sign Michael Thomas this year, a player who was the primary reserve safety and special teams captain. Aikens could slide into the exact role for Miami this year - though the selection of Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft will give Miami three starting safeties (with Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald) for what is normally two positions. Aikens has been playing more as a reserve cornerback as well, which should give him the versatility to fill a role for Miami.

Why he will regress

The selection of Fitzpatrick could hurt Aikens’ ability to get on the field on defense. Aikens is a strong special teams player, but the Dolphins will likely be looking for the next version of Thomas on the roster, and Aikens has to prove he can fill that position.

Chances of making the 53-man roster

Aikens feels like he is a lock for the roster, primarily as a special teams ace. He signed a two-year contract with the club in March, with all of his 2018 salary guaranteed.