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Dolphins depth chart: Building Miami’s all-time team

How does an all-time 53-man roster fill out for the Miami Dolphins? We start with Dan Marino and go from there.

Houston Oilers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

As we close in on the 2023 NFL Draft, I thought it might be fun to build the Miami Dolphins’ depth chart. Not their current depth chart, we did that recently and will take a look again after the draft, but rather their all-time depth chart. The rules were pretty simple - we had to fill out the 53-man roster as if we were trying to play a game with it this season. We could not stack five quarterbacks onto the roster because that is not going to give us the team we would need for the season.

Below you will find my 52 players selected with some discussion about each position group. I only selected 52 players because I wanted to see where you would add another player. This gives you a chance to fix what I messed up. Who did I forget? You can let me know in the comments.

Now, on to my version of the Dolphins’ all-time depth chart:

Quarterbacks (3)

Dan Marino
Bob Griese
Tua Tagovailoa

The first two were the obvious options for the position. Selecting Tagovailoa over players like Chad Pennington, Ryan Tannehill, Jay Fiedler, Earl Morrall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, etc. simply came down to passer rating. Tagovailoa has a 95.0 career passer rating, the highest in team history for anyone who has thrown at least 15 passes. I really thought I was going to go with Pennington or Tannehill here, but Tagovailoa felt like the better choice.

Running backs (4)

Ricky Williams
Mercury Morris
Ronnie Brown
Jim Kiick

The running backs come down to two pairs of runners. Williams and Brown became the Wildcat offense, while Morris and Kiick were together for the Dolphins’ Super Bowl runs in the 1970s. That is a combined 18,772 rushing yards with a 4.3 yards per carry average and 143 touchdowns. There are power and speed options in the group, and it feels perfect.

Fullbacks (2)

Larry Csonka
Lousaka Polite

Yes, I am absolutely cheating by putting Csonka in the fullbacks group because he is Miami’s all-time leading rusher but he technically was a fullback so I get to have him here without using a spot from above. I am going to keep two fullbacks, though, because Csonka was a rusher, while Polite was a true blocking fullback who would get the one-yard gain when it was needed. This gives me more options, but it does mean I have to lose a spot somewhere else on the roster to create the extra spot for the fullback position.

Tight ends (3)

Randy McMichael
Keith Jackson
Jim Mandich

If this were the 2022 offseason, Mandich would probably have not made the list, with Mike Gesicki sliding into the depth chart. However, the down season Gesicki had last year just turned me off of putting him onto the all-time depth chart. Anthony Fasano could make a case for landing on the list as well, while Durham Smythe is in position to continue to rise up the rankings.

Wide receivers (7)

Mark Duper
Mark Clayton
Paul Warfield
Chris Chambers
Nat Moore
O.J. McDuffie
Oronde Gadsden

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle could very easily be placed on this list, but I will wait at least another year before I make that move. I really thought about putting Jarvis Landry on here as a slot receiver option.

Offensive Linemen (9)

LT: Richmond Webb
LG: Bob Kuechenberg
C: Jim Langer
RG: Larry Little
RT: Norm Evans
Dwight Stephenson (C)
Jake Long (T)
Keith Sims (G)
Tim Ruddy (C)

When you do not have Hall of Fame selection Stephenson starting at center, you know your team’s offensive line has had some serious talent on it. Webb and Keuchenberg should both be in the Hall of Fame, Langer and Little are in the Hall of Fame, and Evans was a two-time Pro Bowl selection as he manned the right tackle position from 1966 through 1975. Long was such a dominant player at the left tackle position until his body broke down, while Sims and Ruddy are incredible options to have as back-end depth players. All of this, and I do not even have a three-time Pro Bowl player for the Dolphins (four times for his career) on the list as Mike Pouncey gets snubbed - despite having played and received the all-star selection at both center and guard.

Defensive Linemen (6)

Jason Taylor
Bob Baumhower
Cameron Wake
Tim Bowens
Vern Den Herder
Bill Stanfill

Okay, this needs a little massaging. Is Taylor a lineman or a linebacker? Should we have gone with interior linemen and edge rushers to match Miami’s current 3-4 scheme? I think the easiest way to do this is just to use their most played position - was it on the line or was it as a linebacker? Some of the skill sets may overlap, but if you look at today’s team, there is no reason why Emmanuel Ogbah could not work as a linebacker, but he is playing as an edge-rushing defensive lineman in a 3-4 scheme. It is not a clean alignment all the time.

Taylor is the obvious top piece to the linemen, while Baumhower is the top defensive/nose tackle. Wake, Bowens, Den Herder, and Stanfill all have to be on the depth chart, but it does mean I am missing some good linemen like Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, and Daryl Gardener.

Linebackers (6)

Zach Thomas
Nick Buoniconti
A.J. Duhe
Bryan Cox
Channing Crowder
Kim Bokamper

The linebackers group is dominated by interior/middle linebacker types, but can you really argue against most of these options? Thomas, who finally made the Hall of Fame this year, is the top choice, while Buoniconti is another Hall of Famer. Duhe provides edge rushing, qualifying for the linebacker role by spending five years there compared to three years as a defensive end. Cox was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with Miami averaging over 100 tackles a season during five years with the team. Crowder played his entire six-year career with Miami, and he had up-and-down seasons, but when he was on, he was on - making me feel good about having him as a depth option for the defense.

I broke my own rule here by putting Bokamper in the linebacker group, but I feel okay about it. He started his career with four seasons as an outside linebacker, with five years as a defensive end, playing 60 games at linebacker and 67 at defensive end - but starting 59 at linebacker and 44 on the line. He could go either way, and I felt like he had to be on the roster, so linebacker it is.

Cornerbacks (5)

Sam Madison
Patrick Surtain
Xavien Howard
Tim Foley
Brent Grimes

No one should be able to complain about the selection of Madison and Surtain as the top two on the depth chart, while Howard is definitely in position to challenge for one of those spots, especially with another strong year this season. Foley spent 11 seasons with the Dolphins, including the Super Bowl years and would provide good depth. Grimes was only with the team three years, but he was selected to the Pro Bowl each of those years and he was a Second-Team All-Pro selection one year. You could definitely come up with other players, like Curtis Johnson or Terrell Buckley, who could replace Grimes, but in a defense where you could play Grimes as the nickel cornerback, you have a good secondary.

Safeties (4)

Jake Scott
Dick Anderson
Brock Marion
Jevon Holland

There are several options available for the safety position, but these four, including Holland going into just his third season, give Miami a lot of options. They can cover, they can play in the box, they can blitz, and they can play centerfield. This feels like a good group of players manning the back end of Miami’s defense.

Special Teams (3)

K: Olind Mare
P: Reggie Roby
LS: John Denney

Kicker was a hard one to pick. Cody Parkey and Jay Feely both lead the team with a 91.3 percent field goal conversion rate, but they each only attempted 23 field goals. Jason Sanders is second at 82.9 percent, and qualifies for all-time lists with 152 attempted kicks, followed by Dan Carpenter’s 81.9 percent on 155 attempts. I really thought I was going to either go with Garo Ypremian or Pete Stoyanovich with this selection, but everything just kept pointing to the 10 years Mare was Miami’s kicker, with an 80.9 percent conversion rate on 303 attempts.

Roby did not have the best average in team history (Brandon Fields), the best net yardage average (Thomas Mortsead), nor the most kicks in side the 20 (Brandon Fields), but you cannot convince me he is not the right choice here.

I really like Blake Ferguson, the team’s current long snapper, and I hope he remains with the team for a long time. But there is no denying 14 years of Denney as the long snapper on this depth chart.

That brings us to the 53rd spot. Who did I forget? Where would you add the last player on the roster? Would you provide additional depth somewhere? Could a special teams player be added to round out the roster? Let us know who your 53rd player would be.