The Miami Dolphins have started their rebuild, with an eye toward the 2020 offseason when they are expected to have over $100 million in salary cap space and around 10 draft picks. This year’s team is about setting the foundation of the team as general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores put their visions in to place.
With the first week of free agency complete, a lot has already changed for the Miami Dolphins. Starters like Cameron Wake, Ja’Wuan James, and Ryan Tannehill have either left via free agency or been traded. How does Miami’s depth chart shake out as of March 18? We break down the roster and attempt to project the lineup - with the assumption that the base defense is still a 4-3 formation, though plenty of 3-4 styles will likely show up as well.
This will obviously be the focal point of the team, and the Dolphins’ addition of Fitzpatrick this weekend is clearly providing the team with a veteran presence in a quarterbacks room expected to be full of younger players developing. The Dolphins are expected to select a quarterback in either the 2019 or the 2020 NFL Draft, so Fitzpatrick is the starter and mentor until that rookie is ready to play.
Running backs (2)
The Dolphins will add to the running backs group for depth and special teams players, but the top two seem set and should be able to provide the team with a solid ground game in 2019.
Tight ends (5)
The Dolphins are tight end happy right now, which really just means they are heading into the season trying to find a combination of players that works. Gesicki should step forward this year after struggling as a rookie - which is pretty standard for a tight end. Allen and Walford as free agent additions will fit into the depth chart somewhere. O’Leary and Smythe could end up fighting for one last roster position during training camp and the preseason.
Wide receivers (6)
The wide receivers group is actually pretty strong if everyone stays healthy. Stills and the recently re-signed Parker should take the top positions, then Wilson and Grant will add in for multiple receiver formations.
Offensive linemen (6)
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Isaac Asiata
C: Daniel Kilgore
RG: Jesse Davis
RT: Zach Sterup
To say the Dolphins need to add depth at offensive line might be a slight understatement. The loss of James at right tackle is still bothersome, but the Dolphins could be planning an offensive line heavy Draft, which could bolster the depth - and the starters - on the line. Tunsil and Davis are probably the only locks in the starting lineup, and Davis could kick outside to right tackle if needed. Kilgore at center is solid, if he is healthy.
Defensive ends (5)
Quinn’s roster spot is not a lock, as the Dolphins are reportedly looking to trade him and could release him, despite having $1.1 million turned into guaranteed money last week. Harris has to step up and show why he was a first-round pick. Woodard, Carradine, and Valoaga are all depth options at this point. This is another place where Miami could look in the draft to bolster the roster.
Defensive tackles (5)
Miami could be solid at defensive tackle, or they could need help. This feels like a coin-flip position right now, but if Godchaux and Taylor continue to develop like they have flashed, with both of them entering their third season, the Dolphins will be set with young defensive tackles.
WLB: Jerome Baker
MLB: Raekwon McMillan
SLB: Kiko Alonso
The Dolphins likely head into the season with the same three starters at the linebacker position as last year. If the Dolphins shift to a 3-4 primarily, or the coaches adjust anything here, Alonso playing more of the middle linebacker/inside linebacker would make sense. Allen should be a primary reserve option. The rest of the group will likely need to make an impression in training camp/preseason and show they can contribute on special teams.
Tankersley is the big question mark in this depth chart. Something happened last year that made him fall out of favor with the coaches, and he just never seemed to find his confidence after that. If this coaching staff can get him back to playing like he did the second-half of his rookie year, he could be the starter opposite Howard, allowing McCain to move back to primarily a nickel cornerback role, and the Dolphins would be set with three strong players at the three primary cornerback spots. McTyer, Rowe, Armstrong, and Davis could all push Tankersley for that role, as well as provide depth and special teams play. If the coaches are not convinced Tankersley is the right player opposite Howard, Miami could look to select a cornerback early in the Draft in April.
The safety position is weird, but should be flexible enough that Brian Flores’ defense can use them well. Jones, Fitzpatrick, and McDonald are all three starters, and Flores has three-safety defenses that can use all three of them. Aikens (and Fitzpatrick) can provide depth at cornerback as well.
Special Teams (3)
Long Snapper (1)