Dolphins depth chart 2016: Arian Foster named starting running back, Laremy Tunsil left guard

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins saw last year’s starting running back, Lamar Miller, signed with the Houston Texans in free agency in the spring. Most of the offseason was spent with the presumption that second-year runner Jay Ajayi would assume the top spot on the depth chart, but instead, it will actually be the Texans’ former starter taking the Miami feature back role. Miami named Arian Foster the starting running back on Monday when they released their first official depth chart of the regular season.

“I think a little bit of the reason is experience; but at the same time I think Arian (Foster), from the time he’s gotten here, has really shown that, that is the correct spot for him to be in,” head coach Adam Gase explained. “He had a really good camp. He did everything we asked him to do as far as what we wanted to see in the preseason and he’s been very consistent in his knowledge of the offense in the short period of time that he was here – it was impressive to watch him (and) how quickly he picked it up.”

The Dolphins will hope Foster, who is coming off an Achilles tear he suffered against the Dolphins in Week 4 last year, will be able to return to the form that saw him gain 1,246 yards and score 8 touchdowns on his way to his fourth Pro Bowl selection in 2014. They also have to realize the 30-year-old Foster has not played in all 16 games in a season since 2012.

Miami also officially listed rookie Laremy Tunsil as the starting left guard. Drafted with the 13th overall pick, it was presumed all summer that Tunsil would eventually move into the starting lineup, but the team kept him listed as the second-string guard throughout the preseason. He will now start between Pro Bowlers, left tackle Branden Albert and center Mike Pouncey.

“I think Tunsil did earn it,” Gase said of Tunsil’s moving into the top spot. “I mean we made it hard on him. Obviously you guys … we talked about it so much. But he did; he earned it. He earned being in that spot.”

The full depth chart for the Dolphins is:


1st Team: Ryan Tannehill
2nd Team: Matt Moore
3rd Team: Brandon Doughty

Running backs:

1st Team: Arian Foster
2nd Team: Jay Ajayi
3rd Team: Damien Williams
Others: Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead (Injured)

Wide Receivers:

1st Team: Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry (slot), DeVante Parker
2nd Team: Justin Hunter, Jakeem Grant (slot), Leonte Carroo

Tight Ends:

1st Team: Jordan Cameron
2nd Team: Dion Sims
3rd Team: MarQueis Gray

Offensive Line:

1st Team:
Left Tackle: Branden Albert
Left Guard: Laremy Tunsil
Center: Mike Pouncey (Injured)
Right Guard: Jermon Bushrod
Right Tackle: Ja’Wuan James

2nd Team:
Left Guard: Dallas Thomas
Center: Anthony Steen
Right Guard: Billy Turner

3rd Team:
Center: Kraig Urbik

Defensive Ends:

1st Team: Cameron Wake, Mario Williams
2nd Team: Andre Branch, Jason Jones
3rd Team: Terrence Fede

Defensive Tackles:

1st Team: Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell
2nd Team: Julius Warmsley, Jordan Phillips


1st Team:
WLB: Jelani Jenkins (injured)
MLB: Kiko Alonso
SLB: Koa Misi

2nd Team:
WLB: Neville Hewitt
MLB: Mike Hull
SLB: Spencer Paysinger


1st Team: Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard
2nd Team: Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett
3rd Team: Jordan Lucas


1st Team: Reshad Jones, Isa Abdul-Quddus
2nd Team: Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens

Special Teams

Kicker: Andrew Franks

Punter: Matt Darr

Long Snapper: John Denney

Kick Returner: Jakeem Grant, Kenyan Drake

Punt Returner: Jarvis Landry , Jakeem Grant



Kenyan Drake should be 3rd team, I predicted the O-line correctly in early july (really love the line), Kick Returner and Punt returner should be Jakeem grant starting at both, and I still think we should sign terrance knighton and pair him up with suh on the dline and trade mitchell, really feel like terrance knight with help our run D.

There won't be a Others when Pead comes back from injury

Williams is a DMW.

This has been the most predictable depth chart in years.

Warmsley, Steen, and Hull are positive surprises. Ajayi and Phillips are disappointing. Aside from that, most fans could have called this before training camp.

I would add Lippet to the disappointment side too

He's still a project; probably a 3 year project.

The good thing is that he’s shown improvement. Given his limited snaps last season, he should develop more and become something in 2017.

It really has ...

This has been the most predictable depth chart in years.

I would expect a 6-10 team from the year before to have more roster competition than it had this preseason.

Miami hasn't had any depth.

Miami has entrenched starters, some good, some not as good. However, younger players haven’t stepped up. Chris McCain is a perfect example. He was moved to DE full-time this year and still couldn’t move up the depth chart.

The good news is that at least 2 rookies will start and another 3 should get playing time. That’s a deviation from the prior coaching staff, who would have red-shirted them. Who knows, perhaps they become good players quickly and initiate a turnaround of the franchise?

They haven't had any depth ... That's why I would think there would be more roster churn.

I actually want more young guys playing. More rookies and 2nd year players should be playing and hopefully will be once the season starts. At some point, there won’t be a reason for old veterans taking snaps away from younger player.

There aren't really many places on the team where the guy starting is old and holding back a young guy.

Even Earl MItchell is only 28. I know there’s the whole Koa Misi delusion syndrome fans have, but he still manages to win a job every year. Other than Foster though (which Ajayi was given every shot), what position are we really talking about?

At some point there won't be a reason to play a number of guys who don't project to the 2017 roster and beyond ...

I could see at some point this year where Tunsil is the LT and Albert should be benched or traded. Tunsil is the future LT, Albert isn’t. The same with Cameron and Bushrod and Foster on offense. Play Turner and Steen (if Pouncey is healthy and playing C) at OG. See if they can play for 2017.

I’d do the same with Williams on the DL. Misi, while a starter for Miami, isn’t good enough. Give another player a chance.

The problem is two fold for Miami. 1) They have older players starting who won’t be on the roster when Miami is good in a couple of years. 2) They have some players starting because they are the best on the current roster but the coaching staff knows aren’t good enough. In both cases, at some point this year, Miami needs to see if the Rookies or 2nd year players can play and improve the position.

Couldn't you say the same thing about the vets? They need to play to see who you want to pay for a longer term. <img src="//" alt=":smile:" class="emoji">

It seems way too early to assume that things are going to go so bad that we have to worry about all of this.

How does this happen though?

First of all, the coaches will and should play the better players. Secondly, there aren’t any veteran players playing over younger players. Koa Misi, for example, isn’t starting over a young player that needs snaps. Same goes for the DEs. Fede and Branch are the only younger players in that rotation. Fede is a 7th round pick and Branch simply isn’t good. Miami’s only real hope for youthful talent at that position is Dion Jordan.

The only positions on the team you could make this argument for are RG, RB, and NT. With NT, Phillips will still get significant reps. At RG and RB, it’s not like the coaches didn’t give younger players the opportunity. Ajayi and Turner has every opportunity to cement a starting role and didn’t. Even then, they’ll both get plenty of snaps this season (I don’t like Bushrod at RG & I think Turner takes over before midseason).

Exactly, I don't see it either.

The only player would be Carroo over Stills, but I thought Carroo was drafted a year early to give him time. He will probably even get reps too at some point too. None of it really needs to be forced though.

It happens because the coaches make it happen.

You can get to a point in the season where even playing the better player isn’t making the team better now or in the future. It is diminishing returns. When you identify that someone isn’t playing the position well enough and won’t be part of the future, you replace that person. It doesn’t matter at that point if you get a little worse. It may be determined that the backup won’t be part of the future as well, and you need to get rid of them too. But now you have made a decision on 2 players instead of the 1. That moves the team forward.

I’m going to start calling it the "Taylor Trap". You draft a player, intend on playing him, but always bring in someone else to take his snaps because they are marginally better at the time. You then put off an evaluation of that young player for years. That’s what happened with Jamar Taylor. That could happen again this year with a number of young players again.

Why do we know that Dallas Thomas or Billy Turner aren’t good OG’s? Because the have played. Do we know if Vigil could be a starting LB? Do we know if Fede could be a rotational DE? Do we know if Sims could be a starting TE? Do we know? No and neither does the coaching staff or FO because they would rather get a marginal NFL starter who is slightly better right now get the majority of snaps instead of developing young players.

Misi isn’t a good LB. He isn’t a starter for a lot of teams in this league. If he was on Seattle, he probably wouldn’t make the roster. At some point, a competent FO and Coaching Staff doesn’t play him anymore. They replace him.

What Miami has been very poor at as an organization is settling for marginal players. It’s always win now at all costs and what that has done is prevent them from getting better. They don’t play young players and recognize too late if they can play at all because they don’t see the field. It’s why Miami hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. They don’t let their young players play opting for veterans who aren’t that good. Right now, Miami on both offense and defense are playing marginal veterans over younger players. Until that changes, the leap in talent on the field necessary won’t be there for Miami to make them a playoff contender.

But, they are doing that and have been doing that.

Howard could have easily gotten veteran competition that wasn’t going immediately onto pup. Landry didn’t need to start his rookie year. Tannehill pretty much won his job as a rookie (even though injuries helped). Not every player needs to be thrown in there to know what they are (good or bad). There was enough buzz in camp last year to know that maybe starting Thomas and Turner was going to be bad.

The young players still have to deserve a starting spot and not be given it just because they are younger.

Otherwise you’re setting a terrible precedent that unless you’re a star player it won’t matter if you are a superior talent because the coaching staff is just going to give the job undeservedly to the younger player. Not to mention that having steady players who aren’t terrible at their jobs makes it easier for those younger players who will be starting and take less pressure off of them and allow them to succeed.

I would agree with you if the Dolphins were choosing inferior talented veterans over younger players and not giving them a shot to succeed but that clearly isn’t the case. Players like Ajayi, Turner, Thomas, Lippett, Phillips, etc… were given every chance to win a starting job and didn’t perform and shouldn’t just be handed a starting job because they are young.

But you get caught in this trap in the NFL by not playing young players for a marginally better veteran ...

The trap is once the regular season starts, practice time (especially in pads) is limited and the 1st team gets all the reps. So the young player, who may become the better player, doesn’t get a shot for the entire year because his reps are limited. That means coaches are playing a veteran who has probably already hit their ceiling, which isn’t very high, in favor of a slightly worse younger player who could have a higher ceiling but won’t get the reps for another year. It’s a circular trap. The team doesn’t get any better because the veteran isn’t any good and the young players aren’t getting reps.

That’s Miami in a nutshell over the past several years. Finnegan, Sheppard, Misi, are just a few examples of veterans in the last couple of years that everyone knows aren’t good starters in the NFL. They are starters on bad teams and they prevent teams from getting better by taking snaps away from players that could become better. Watch Sunday’s game against Seattle. Seattle is a championship level defense. Tell me where Misi would fit in on that defense? He isn’t a starter. He probably isn’t even a backup. If that’s the case, why should he be a starter in Miami on a defense that isn’t that good anyway? What are the chances he is going to get better? You know, I know, everyone knows he isn’t good enough, so what’s the point?

Who cares if you are replacing bad with bad? I’d rather have young bad with the potential to improve over old bad with no potential.

This trap doesn't seem to hurt teams like the Patriots or Packers who usually have their younger players start as depth.

There’s a difference between never giving a young player a chance to prove himself and succeed and making them earn playing time and not rewarding them for just being younger and having "potential". Sure, if there is very little difference than I’d prefer the younger player to get the starting nod over the veteran but in most cases this hasn’t been the case.

Miami has failed because the young players weren’t good enough to force players like Finnegan, Sheppard and Misi out of starting jobs. These players shouldn’t just be given jobs just because they are young they need to show actual improvement in practice, preseason or as backups and justify that they are good enough to get consistent snaps. All you’re doing by giving them snaps without showing any actual ability is telling the rest of the team that performance doesn’t matter and creating a bad precedent. Not to mention that while players like Misi shouldn’t be starters on a good team they still have value in not being terrible and making other player’s jobs around them tougher. After all isn’t it a lot easier on a young CB when he has a good pass rush and thus an easier job for him to be able to slowly transition from college player or backup to NFL starter?

I care about creating an environment that promotes competition and effort and doesn’t reward players for just being young. I also care about playing players who can at least do their job somewhat decently and not just give someone else a job who is completely terrible at it and making the rest of the team’s jobs harder because of it.

BB has succeeded

…because he has an awesome QB….plus his system. Not to mention he doesn’t mind getting rid of older players for newer ones. Those newer players…given the chance…always seem to play up to expectations.

We know what our vets can do. We have absolutely no idea what our backups can do.

Practice is limited. Practice doesn’t do shit except go over the playbook.

I agree

We seem to bring in stop gap players all the time. They’re on their way out. We never let our younger players get out there. Those players we bring in are released by a team for a reason. That reason usually being they’re injury prone…or have lost a step.

I can’t sit here and tell you stats that prove one player that deserves a spot over another…but I know I’ve seen plenty of younger players…play better than vets….and I’ve wondered why they aren’t given a chance over a marginally better player…who doesn’t offer shit.

Known commodity < Younger player with a potentially higher ceiling.

To be fair, its kind of hard to build depth when you have churned the roster 3 time since 2007

That averages up to a roster churn once every three years.

The fact that Gase only took one player from another teams cuts...

Tells me he feels he has depth.

Or really that the depth he has is bette than the depth cut by the other 31 teams

Either way...

…it’s a good sign to me.

Mitchell is dissapointing

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