The Miami Dolphins have released their first depth chart of the 2023 season. Joint practices start against the Atlanta Falcons today leading up to their first preseason contest this Friday evening; we’ve finally made it to some meaningful (as meaningful as preseason can be) Miami Dolphins football.
2023 Dolphins’ first depth chart. pic.twitter.com/EB8zxaTpGi— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) August 8, 2023
We’ll review some interesting positions, but one thing stands out immediately: Mike McDaniel is sticking with familiar players. The only newcomers set to start (at this point in the season) are Jalen Ramsey (injured), David Long, and Jake Bailey. Other free-agent acquisitions and draft picks are backups at their given positions. They’ll be forced to earn playing time this training camp and preseason (as they should). Let’s look at some of the more contested spots and what this depth chart may indicate.
As was expected, Austin Jackson (RT) and Liam Eichenberg (LG) will be given every opportunity to hold onto their starting spots for the 2023 season. This makes sense for the Miami Dolphins; they’ve invested time and money in developing these players and both have sought-out traits for their positions. Not to mention Liam Eichenberg is under contract for the next two seasons on an inexpensive, cost-controlled rookie deal.
If they struggle through the preseason, they could begin to lose first-team reps to players like Isaiah Wynn, Robert Jones, or Cedric Ogbuehi. These two spots are worth keeping an eye on through camp, as they’re the two biggest weaknesses on the offense so far.
This wasn’t an area of concern (or interest) until Jalen Ramsey suffered a meniscus injury earlier in training camp. While reports about his recovery have been optimistic, he won’t be back until the midpoint of the season-likely later. Prior to that injury, it looks like the Dolphins were going to utilize Howard, Ramsey, and Kohou (nickel) as their big three corners in 2023.
While many (myself included) have pointed to the impressive rookie Cam Smith as the prime candidate to step up in Ramsey’s absence, he’s buried on this depth chart behind players like Noah Igbinoghene, Nik Needham, and Justin Bethel. While this feels more like making a rookie earn his keep (as De’Von Achane is similarly buried) than actually being reflective of their opinion on him, it’s worth monitoring through the preseason.
Mike White has been penciled in as the backup quarterback since he was added in free agency, but it’s still surprising to see him surpass Skylar Thompson (who has an extra year with this offense/coaching staff) this early in the process. Thompson was the darling of Dolphins fans last preseason and the hope has to be that he develops into a capable (backup) NFL quarterback.
While the new emergency QB rule means that both Thompson and White will be (essentially) active each week, it will be interesting to see how they perform this preseason. If Thompson can overtake White, it would save the Dolphins a ton of money over the next couple of seasons to have a capable backup on a 7th-round rookie deal.
Some coaches put more thought behind early depth charts than others, so we won’t really know what they’re thinking until we see some preseason action. This Friday will be our first indication of which players can climb up from their spot on the depth chart and which will be camp casualties over the coming weeks.