The Miami Dolphins will finish their 2018 preseason schedule tonight when they visit the Atlanta Falcons. After the game, the team will have to start making some tough decisions, with the league’s 53-man roster limit deadline coming at 4pm Eastern on Saturday. How will Miami’s regular season roster look when that deadline is reached?
Through the first three games, the Dolphins have been fairly vanilla. They showed a little more during last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, but still are not going all out as of yet. Tonight’s game should be a showcase of the depth of the team and the players the coaching staff want to see one last time before the cuts are made. As for the starters, expect a cameo appearance from a few of them, but none of that group are expected to play any meaningful time.
As the final preseason game approaches, we update our depth chart prediction for the team:
I started this projection with a prediction I do not want to see happen. The Dolphins at this point appear to be considering allowing the backup quarterback competition to spill into the regular season, which would mean both Fales and Osweiler are on the roster. I still think Fales is the ultimate winner as Tannehill’s understudy, but at this point, I think both could make the roster just because there does not seem to be a consensus either way.
Running backs (4)
No changes to the running back position. Drake, Gore, and Ballage are locked into the top three positions, and Perry should make the team as a returner and special teams player.
Wide receivers (5)
There are plenty of players who are fighting for a sixth receiver spot, including Leonte Carroo, Isaiah Ford, and Francis Owusu. This used to be Ford’s position, but he has disappeared in the preseason and Miami does not appear to need a sixth wide out at this point. If one of the group dominates tonight, they could claim a roster spot, but for now, the Dolphins head into the season with just five receivers (on my projection).
Tight ends (4)
No change here. I nearly removed Derby, because I do not think he is locked onto the roster, Miami has only kept three tight ends the last few years, and they could use the roster spot somewhere else, but yesterday I predicted in my bubble watch article that the team would keep him, and I am not ready to change that.
Offensive linemen (9)
The starting offensive line has been set for the entire summer. It is the guys behind them that are question marks and, after Saturday’s Ravens game, that has not changed much. I still went with Young, Larsen, Asiata, and Brendel, though any of those players (minus Young and maybe Larsen) could be left off the roster in favor of someone else. Asiata has been quiet this preseason, which probably is a good thing when you are talking about an offensive lineman. Brendel has barely been able to practice, but the team seems to like him and he can provide depth whenever his calf is fully healed.
Defensive ends (6)
The Dolphins intend to rotate defensive linemen a lot this year, which means they are likely going to keep a lot of linemen. Hayes when healthy, gives them the flexibility to play defensive end and defensive tackle, while the top four on the depth chart are all pass rushers and Malveaux is a developing option in the rotation. No changes here from last projection.
Defensive tackle (4)
No changes here as well. Kendall Langford could make a case tonight for a roster spot, in which case Malveaux probably falls off the roster, but for now, I do not think he makes the team. That leaves four defensive tackles plus Hayes.
A slight adjustment to the linebackers sees Poling drop to the practice squad while Allen slides onto the roster. The linebacker group as a whole is a question mark, so this could be - other than maybe McMillan and Alonso - a different looking group by Friday.
No changes here. Fiztpatrick could move from the safeties to the cornerbacks on the list, but I think home for him is safety even if he is playing as the primary nickel cornerback. Lippett could be more on the bubble than previously thought, mostly because he is still working his way back from the Achilles injury that cost him all of 2017. Adam Gase is expected to play Lippett as much as possible on Thursday to see if he needs to be on the roster.
No change. The two strong safeties, the jack-of-all-trades, and the special teams ace.
Special Teams (3)
John Denney - Long Snapper
Matt Haack - Punter
Jason Sanders - Kicker
No change here. Sanders and Greg Joseph enter the final week of the preseason about even in the position battle, which gives the spot to Sanders based on his draft stock.
Practice Squad (10)
Quentin Poling - Linebacker
Jalen Davis - Cornerback
Thomas Duarte - Tight end
Mike Matthews - Center
Buddy Howell - Running back
Claudy Mathieu - Defensive end
Cornell Armstrong - Cornerback
Drew Morgan - Wide receiver
Jamiyus Pittman - Defensive tackle
Eric Smith - Tackle
The only change here is to add Poling in place of Cayson Collins.