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Dolphins training camp 2023: Building the roster - Defensive Line

As we get closer to the start of the Miami Dolphins’ 2023 training camp, we continue to build our 53-man roster projection, moving to the defense for the first time.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins will have their full roster in training camp in just a few days, with the rookies already at the team facility while the veterans report on Tuesday. As we get closer to seeing the players back on the practice field, we continue to work our way through each position group on the team.

We have completed our look at the offense, and now are moving over to the defensive side of the ball. Our series started with the quarterbacks, followed by the running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, fullbacks, and offensive line. We stay at the line of scrimmage today as we take a look at the defensive line.

Off-the-field question marks surround the Miami defensive line, especially when it comes to possible contract extensions and the return of players injured in 2022. However, when it comes to the on-field expectations for the group, they could not be higher. This group should prove to be an elite piece of what should be an elite defense for the Dolphins.

Who is on the 90-man roster?

Josiah Bronson
Randy Charlton (R)
Raekwon Davis
Anthony Montalvo (R)
Emmanuel Ogbah
Brandon Pili (R)
Zach Sieler
Jaylen Twyman
Christian Wilkins

What should we expect in training camp?

We are going to look at the defensive line as a group, instead of outside and inside players. Miami’s 3-4 defensive system, with three defensive linemen and four linebackers in the base scheme, does align itself for a nose tackle and two defensive ends, but then using linebackers as the edge rushers. That also leads to situations where Ogbah is listed as a defensvie end, but could find himself standing up as a linebacker or Wilkins is listed as a defensive tackle, but really plays as a defensive end in the three-man front. The Dolphins may not use the Brian Flores-era amoeba defense as much, but the defensive linemen do not necessarily align into a “defensive tackle” and “defensive end” category as much as they are all defensive linemen, able to play in multiple spots.

Wilkins sits atop the depth chart, with the only questions for him on when or if a contract extension gets completed and just how big a Brinks truck is needed for the signing bonus on that contract. Miami has an absolute star player entering his prime on their defensive line. Will salary cap issues cause them to allow him to walk in 2024 or will they be able to make the math work?

Ogbah is returning after a torn triceps muscle ended his 2022 season prematurely. After leading the team with nine sacks in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Miami missed Ogbah’s presence up front last year. After sustaining the injury in November, the only real question mark for Ogbah is when will he feel his triceps is 100 percent.

Sieler is not Wilkins, but he is a really good player will see plenty of playing time this year. He should not have any issues in training camp. Davis should be the starting defensive tackle/nose tackle for the line.

That really gives Miami four starters for three positions heading into the season. This is where Ogbah could be asked to stand up as a linebacker - though then he will likely be competing with Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, and Andrew Van Ginkel in that role.

Behind the top four defensive linemen, Miami’s depth falls off quickly - but last year seemed to show the coaches were comfortable with Wilkins, Sieler, and Davis manning the line.

That leaves Bronson, Charlton, Montalvo, Pili, and Twyman to fight for depth positions. This is a place where Miami could look to add a veteran in camp to provide depth, especially if they can land a defensive tackle/nose tackle type who can spell Davis in the middle of the line.

2023 53-man roster projection

Raekwon Davis
Emmanuel Ogbah
Brandon Pili (R)
Zach Sieler
Christian Wilkins

This almost became just a four-man defensive line group, but that feels really light. Pili makes the roster to give Miami depth, and because some undrafted free agent is going to make an impact this summer. Pili, out of USC, could be that player.

While this feels dangerously light, knowing the Dolphins have options to be able to add linebackers as defensive ends would mitigate the apparent risk to this group. Adding a veteran interior lineman would help, with Pili likely a practice squad option then.