The Miami Dolphins kick off their 2021 season tomorrow with players reporting for training camp. While we are still a few weeks from preseason games and roster cuts, the team getting back into the building and starting to build toward September’s regular season is always a great moment. In just a few more days, we will have public practices and constant updates about the team.
Before we get there, we are going to finish the offensive side of our roster breakdown series, taking a look today at the offensive line. This series is moving position by position through the roster, working on a prediction for the Dolphins’ 53-man roster. Some of the positions, like quarterback, are pretty simple to project. Others like the wide receiver group could go multiple ways come final roster cuts.
The offensive line is actually fairly simple to predict at this point, despite 16 players currently being on the roster.
Matt Skura, center (28, 5th year)
Cameron Tom, center (26, 4th year)
Michael Deiter, center/guard (24, 3rd year)
Jermaine Eluemunor, guard (26, 5th year)
Robert Jones, guard (22, rookie)
Solomon Kindley, guard (24, 2nd year)
Durval Queiroz Neto, guard (28, Rookie)
Jesse Davis, guard/tackle (29, 5th year)
Robert Hunt, guard/tackle (24, 2nd year)
Larnel Coleman, tackle (23, Rookie)
Liam Eichenberg, tackle (23, Rookie)
D.J. Fluker, tackle (30, 9th year)
Jonathan Hubbard, tackle (23, 1st year)
Austin Jackson, tackle (21, 2nd year)
Adam Pankey, tackle (27, 4th year)
Timon Parris, tackle (25, 1st year)
The starting offensive line for the Dolphins is probably something like Jackson at left tackle, Davis at left guard, Skura at center, Hunt at right guard, and Eichenberg at right tackle. Kindley could push Davis for the left guard position, while Deiter could make an argument for the center role. That locks in seven players to the roster already.
The Dolphins added Fluker and Eluemunor this offseason, so it seems likely they will keep the two veterans as well; they could factor into the battles for starting roles as well. That gives the team nine offensive linemen.
The tough question actually comes with an undrafted free agent signing. The Dolphins really liked Jones and gave him a $130,000 guaranteed contract to get him to Miami, an amount over $100,000 more than they usually average on undrafted free agent guarantees. That seems to say they would like him to stick around for the season. Do they keep a tenth offensive lineman? Do they eat the money and risk him on waivers believing he would be an in-demand player? I think they look to him as a practice squad player and take the chance simply because of the roster numbers.
That leaves Tom, Queiroz Neto, Coleman, Hubbard, Pankey, and Parris as either roster cuts or eventual practice squad players. Queiroz Neto should be allowed to continue in the International Player Pathway Program, giving the Dolphins an additional practice squad slot for him as Miami continues to develop the Brazilian as an offensive lineman, though he will not be eligible to be called up to the active roster if the team uses the practice squad exemption on him. Coleman, despite being a draft pick, just sees the numbers not in his favor for a roster spot and likely ends up on the practice squad. Hubbard spent last season on the practice squad and he could land there again. The Dolphins seem to like Pankey, so finding a way to stash him on the practice squad would make sense, but he could find a job somewhere else in the league as a depth addition as well. Tom and Parris are probably on the wrong side of the cut line.
Depth Chart Projection
LT: Austin Jackson
LG: Jesse Davis
C: Matt Skura
RG: Robert Hunt
RT: Liam Eichenberg
Durval Queiroz Neto**
* Assuming he clears waivers and/or does not sign with another team.
** International Pathways Program practice squad exemption.