The Miami Dolphins open their 2023 training camp next week, with the rookies scheduled to report on July 18. The veterans get another week off before reporting on July 25. As the Dolphins close out the offseason and get ready to ramp up for the 2023 season, it is time to take a look at the top training camp position battles to watch.
This is really two position battles, or maybe even three, in one. Miami is locked in at left tackle, where Terron Armstead will start, and they are locked in at right guard with Robert Hunt. The other three positions on the line have question marks, some bigger than others.
The center position should be locked down by Connor Williams, but he has opened the door to being replaced as he holds out looking for a new contract. If he reports when training camp opens, maybe everything settles back down and he resumes his role as the starting center. If he does not, Liam Eichenberg worked as the center through the offseason training program and minicamp, playing well as he transitions to the position, including earning the team’s orange jersey recognition as the top practice performer.
Assuming Williams does return to his position at center, the left guard position is a battle between Eichenberg and Isaiah Wynn. Eichenberg has struggled to lock down a role on the offensive line and to play consistently there. Wynn joined the Dolphins this year and, despite having served as the starting left tackle for the Patriots for most of his four years there, moving to right tackle last year, he could be asked to move inside and play guard. This would appear to be Eichenberg’s position to claim, but this might be a close position battle.
It could be interesting to see if Eichenberg claims the center position, would Miami move Williams back to left guard, where he played prior to joining the team in 2022?
At right tackle, the Dolphins are expected to have Austin Jackson return to the top of the depth chart, but the 2020 first-round pick has not been a lockdown tackle through his first three seasons. To be fair to him, he missed almost the entire 2022 season due to injury, but he has a lot to prove this year. If he does not immediately show he is ready to be the blind-side blocker for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Miami could look to Wynn or Cedric Ogbuehi to challenge for the role.
Wide receiver depth
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are the clear top two on the depth chart and may be the best duo in the league. Behind them, however, is a question mark. The Dolphins expected Cedrick Wilson, Jr., to serve in the third-receiver role last year, but it never really materialized. He could fight his way into the role this year, but he will have competition. The team added Robbie Chose and Braxton Berrios this offseason to provide them options behind Hill and Waddle. They also have River Cracraft, Erik Ezukanma, Braylon Sanders, Freddie Swain, Chris Coleman, and Daewood Davis to add depth - but there are obviously not enough roster spots to keep everyone.
Chosen, Berrios, and Wilson will likely battle to be the slot/third receiver. Berrios has the added benefit of likely being the team’s primary returner on special teams. If Miami were to keep all three of them, that slots five wide receivers onto the roster already, likely leading to losing developing players like Cracraft or Ezukanma.
The receiver battle during camp will be a busy one.
This battle might be more about who gets to see playing time than it is Miami trying to find an answer to a hole. Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey are obviously the top two cornerbacks, but injuries forced Miami to rely on other players last year, with Kader Kohou and Nik Needham stepping into much larger roles than expected. Now, the Dolphins have to figure out who will be the primary nickel cornerback after seeing both Needham and Kohou work outside last year.
The sleeper in the position group might be Trill Williams. After tearing his ACL in August last year, the 23-year-old could come back this year and make an impression. It is tough for a cornerback to come back from a major injury and immediately trust that he can be as explosive as he is used to being, with Williams having to prove he is 100 percent healthy, both physically and mentally.
Miami drafted Cam Smith with their third-round pick this year, their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. How he factors into the cornerback rotation will have to be seen as well.
Finally, Noah Igbinoghene’s role with the team has to be decided as well. Like Jackson, Igbinoghene was a first-round pick in 2020, but he has not performed up to the expectations of that pick. He is only 23 years old, so there is still a possibility for him to develop, but he is going to have to show up early in camp and prove he is worth a depth cornerback position.
Tua Tagovailoa is locked into the top spot on the depth chart at the quarterback position, but behind him is just a question mark. Does the newly added Mike White claim the primary backup role or does 2022 seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson take the spot? Thompson is in his second year in the offense and saw playing time, including three starts, one in the playoffs, for Miami last year. Is that enough to earn him the second spot on the depth chart? White and Thompson have plenty to prove this summer.
Jevon Holland is a rising star in the league, but who will be next to him? Brandon Jones feels like a forgotten player after tearing his ACL during the season. Similar to Trill Williams, Jones could be slowed as he works to come back from the injury, but he feels like a perfect compliment next to Holland if he is ready to play. Miami added DeShon Elliott this offseason in a move to add depth and competition to the position group. The former University of Texas teammates could find themselves battling to start next to Holland this year.