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2021 NFL Draft review: A look at the Miami Dolphins’ roster and 53-man projection - Updated with McCain release news

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, with the Miami Dolphins adding seven new rookies. While the team has not yet announced their undrafted free agent signings, we can still get a good idea of what the roster looks like today, and update our 53-man roster projection for the regular season.

I previously took a look at the 53-man roster back in March. Obviously, that was just a swag to try to find where Miami could be looking to fill roster spots in free agency and the Draft. Now, we are past the Draft so it is time to see how well the roster has been rounded out for the year.

Quarterbacks (2 roster / 1 cut)

Starter: Tua Tagovailoa

Depth: Jacoby Brissett

Cut: Reid Sinnett

Notes: Thank goodness the talk of the Dolphins moving on from Tagovailoa is over now. This is clearly his team and the coaches/front office is building it around him. Brissett gives the team a veteran with starting experience to fill in if needed. Sinnett could land on the practice squad.

Running backs (4/2)

Starter:
Myles Gaskin

Depth:
Salvon Ahmed
Malcolm Brown
Gerrid Doaks (R)

Cut:
Patrick Laird
Jordan Scarlett

Notes: The biggest issue fans have with the Dolphins’ draft class is the lack of a top-tier running back. Adding Doaks late in the selection process offsets that a little, but he is not coming in to take the reins of a position that struggled last year. Miami is betting on Gaskin to continue to break out as he was late last year. Ahmed is a solid number two, though Brown could slide into that role. I wanted to find a way to keep Laird, but the numbers do now work right now.

Offensive linemen (9/5)

Starters:
Austin Jackson
Solomon Kindley
Matt Skura
Robert Hunt
Liam Eichenberg (R)

Depth:
D.J. Fluker
Michael Deiter
Jesse Davis
Larnel Coleman (R)

Cut:
Adam Pankey
Durval Queiroz Neto
Jonathan Hubbard
Cameron Tom
Tyler Gauthier

Notes: The five players listed as starters are likely the top five players heading into camp. There will be plenty of competition throughout camp, so this could change. Do not be surprised if Michael Deiter makes a strong case for the starting center role. Fluker probably serves as the team’s swing tackle, while Davis continues to play the utility role. Pankey and Coleman could fight for the final roster spot if Miami can only keep nine based on the numbers as I have it here. Queiroz Neto is officially listed as a guard now after starting his career as a defensive tackle, he probably ends up on the practice squad again.

Tight ends (4/2)

Starter:
Mike Gesicki

Depth:
Hunter Long (R)
Durham Smythe
Adam Shaheen

Cut:
Chris Myarick
Cethan Carter

Notes: The Dolphins added Long during the Draft, but I do not think he costs Smythe or Shaheen a roster spot. Gesicki and Smythe should start the year as the main players in a two-tight end set, with Long being brought into the rotation slowly. Tight ends always seem to have a difficult transition to the NFL, so a slow rookie campaign could be ahead of Long, but he will turn the corner at some point. Shaheen provides depth in every aspect of a tight end role.

Wide receivers (6/5)

Starters:
DeVante Parker
Jaylen Waddle (R)
Will Fuller V

Depth:
Preston Williams
Albert Wilson
Malcolm Perry

Cut:
Lynn Bowden, Jr.
Jakeem Grant
Allen Hurns
Mack Hollins
Kirk Merritt
Kai Locksley
Robert Foster

Notes: The wide receiver position is going to be a battle all summer. The only sure thing seems to be Parker, Waddle, and Fuller at the top of the depth chart. The other 10 receivers on the roster could all have arguments made to make the roster and arguments on why they should be released. Williams has to prove he is able to stay healthy, Wilson has to prove he is ready to play after his opt-out year, and Perry has to become more consistent. Grant has to prove that (a) he can cleanly catch the ball and (b) is not being replaced by Waddle and safety Jevon Holland in the return game if he wants to force Miami to keep seven receivers. If you want to switch out Perry for players like Bowden, Grant, Hurns, Hollins, or Merritt, it really is not that big of an argument.

Defensive line (7/4)

Defensive ends:

Starters:
Christian Wilkins
Emmanuel Ogbah
Depth:
Zach Sieler
Jason Strowbridge

Nose tackles:

Starter:
Raekwon Davis

Depth:
Benito Jones
John Jenkins
Adam Butler*

Cut:

Nick Coe
Jonathan Ledbetter
Tyshun Render
Notes: There really is not a lot of adjustment here. Coe, Ledbetter, Render, and Butler can fight their way onto the roster, given that I only have seven players here for the rotation - but since it is only a three-man front, that is not as short as it seems.

Update: I added Butler on to the roster with the news of Bobby McCain being released.

Linebackers (8/3)

Starters:
Andrew Van Ginkel
Jerome Baker
Benardrick McKinney
Jaelan Phillips (R)

Depth:
Elandon Roberts
Sam Eguavoen
Calvin Munson
Vince Biegel

Cut:
Brennan Scarlett
Kylan Johnson
Duke Reily

Notes: The four linebackers in the starting group should all be locks to make the roster. The depth group should include Roberts and Eguavoen, with the rest potentially battling for a position.

Cornerbacks (5/4)

Starters:
Xavien Howard
Byron Jones

Depth:
Noah Igbinoghene
Nik Needham
Jamal Perry

Cut:
Terrell Bonds
Justin Coleman
Javaris Davis
Tino Ellis

Notes: This seems really light for a position group that has seen injury issues in the past. However, I think there is a possibility Miami looks to their safeties to be the depth if it is needed.

Safeties (5/2)

Starters:
Bobby McCain
Eric Rowe
Jevon Holland (R)

Depth:
Brandon Jones
Clayton Fejedelem

Cut:
Brian Cole
Nate Holley

Notes: I am leaving McCain and Rowe at the top of the depth chart here, despite thinking the team could move McCain back to nickel or release/trade one of the two. Holland is going to see plenty of playing time this year, and Jones should too. Those two seem to be the future of the position for the Dolphins. Fejedelem makes the team primarily as a special teams contributor.

Update: With the report that the Dolphins will release McCain, I have slid Holland into the starting position. Jones could make case for that spot as well.

Kicker (1)

Jason Sanders

Punter (1)

Michael Palardy

Long snapper (1/1)

Blake Ferguson

Cut:
Rex Sunahra