The Miami Dolphins completed their cuts down to the 53-man roster limit on Saturday, then picked up a couple of waiver claims on Sunday, followed by the signing of a free agent on Monday. Now, as the team looks forward to their Sunday regular season opener against the Tennessee Titans, things should start to settle down a little.
Which raises the question of, how will the 53-man roster be shaped into a depth chart? Currently, the team’s online depth chart is organized simply in the order of the first depth chart from the preseason, with players released removed from the chart - leaving example of the Dolphins having a first-team, second-team, fifth-team, and sixth-team tight end. We predict how the depth chart, which will be released this week, could be built:
The only debate at the quarterback position is who is two and three, Osweiler or Fales? And, at the end of the day, it does not really matter. The Dolphins are carrying four quarterbacks right now, which seems odd, but actually makes some sense. Head coach Adam Gase prefers Fales, but he has not performed well in the games. Osweiler has more experience if it is needed, while Falk is the developmental quarterback that Gase wanted in this year’s draft but could not get, and now has. At some point, Miami will likely release Osweiler or Fales, but for a few weeks, keeping four quarterbacks until one establishes himself as the true second-string seems fine.
This also feels fairly straight forward. Drake will be at the top, while Gore will see plenty of playing time. Ballage showed he is ready to make an impact as well, while Perry can contribute on offense, but is more of a special teams player right now.
The Dolphins seem to believe Parker and Grant will be ready for Week 1, with Parker taking his place atop the depth chart - more from potential he still needs to reach than anything else. Stills will probably be the top receiver for Miami (at least, according to my predictions), while Amendola will become the security blanket receiver. Wilson and Grant will have plenty of opportunities as the team exploits matchups. McEvoy will be playing catch-up with the playbook this week as he was added on Sunday via waivers.
Gesicki should be the primary tight end, with Gray filling in as the second tight end in most instances. Derby will probably be the other pass catching option, while Smythe will be primarily a blocking tight end - though he has good enough hands to be out on routes at time as well.
The starting offensive line is set with Tunsil at left tackle, Sitton at left guard, Kilgore at center, Davis at right guard, and James at right tackle. Behind them, Larsen will be the primary interior reserve, while Sterup has the tackle positions. Swanson gives the team a center option, though he has to catch up on the play book after signing on Monday. Sam Young was released this weekend, but he could be an option to re-sign either this week or after Week 1 in order to prevent his contract becoming full guaranteed.
UPDATE: As this was in the process of publishing, I saw the news that Young had been re-signed and Maurice Smith was released. Slide Young into the spot between James and Larsen, and he will serve as the swing tackle.
The depth chart for the defensive ends really does not matter as all five should see plenty of playing time. Wake and Quinn should be on the field first, with Harris and Branch rotating into the game regularly. Hayes will likely be the primary run stopping defensive end, while also moving inside to play defensive tackle. Wake could see his snap count down compared to last year, as the Dolphins look to save him throughout the season for pass rushing opportunities. In that case, I would expect Harris to see additional playing time.
Spence has been quiet this preseason, but he should be locked into the starting lineup. Phillips pushes ahead of Godchaux in this projection, but it is probably a coin toss as to who should be where. Taylor’s performance this summer proves he needs playing time as well. Look for all four of the players to rotate regularly this year.
The starting lineup should have McMillan in the middle, with Baker and Alonso on the outside. Allen will likely be the primary reserve linebacker, while Anthony will see playing time when needed and could work his way back up the depth chart after initially being seen as a starter candidate over Baker.
Howard and McCain should be the stop two cornerbacks. The blank spot above is Fitzpatrick’s nickel corner position, though he is listed in the safeties. Tankersley needs to prove he can be more consistent and could eventually re-earn the starter role, pushing McCain to nickel. McTyer has been impressive at times this summer, while Armstrong should provide solid depth.
Jones is a Pro Bowl strong safety, McDonald is a really good strong safety who can play free safety - at least as far as the Dolphins are concerned - and Fitzpatrick is a free safety who will play nickel cornerback. Expect to see all three of them on the field plenty this year. Smith provides depth while Aikens is a special teams ace.
UPDATE: Smith is out of the depth chart now with the addition of Young back to the roster.
The drafted rookie won the position battle.
Haack is the punter. What else to say?
The Dolphins released Denney and re-signed him in order to make roster space on Sunday, which may be the greatest phrase I have ever written on the site.