Projecting Miami Dolphins' Starting Lineup Pre-2014 NFL Draft
What would the Miami Dolphins' starting lineup look like if the season began today?
This isn't a question that's being posed quite yet, for there is still plenty of offseason to go, and the NFL draft is only one week away.
Despite that, the Dolphins have most of the players on their roster who will be in the starting lineup already, and they have already began OTAs and workouts with the team.
Here's our still-too-premature look at Miami's starting lineup.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill
Unless somehow Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater falls to the Dolphins at No. 19 (and they feel like making a pick that will infuriate me into writing an angry article), Ryan Tannehill will be the Dolphins' starting quarterback next season.
There's no reason to think Tannehill won't start for the Dolphins, unless he gets hurt in training camp or in the preseason.
Tannehill has already worked with his receivers this offseason (save for one), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, and seems to be taking a leadership role early on.
The more Tannehill immerses himself in the Dolphins' new offense, the better off Miami will be.
Running Back: Knowshon Moreno
Nothing against Lamar Miller (who will get his fair share of carries this season), but Knowshon Moreno will be Miami's starting running back.
It will be interesting to see what kind of production Moreno can bring the Dolphins, as last season he ran for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns on 241 attempts. That's good, but he did have in front of him a good offensive line, and it's not like he was the point of emphasis on offense for the Denver Broncos that defenses attempted to neutralize.
It won't be Moreno's rushing ability that makes him the starter, but rather his use on passing plays. Last season, he had 60 catches for 548 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly, he did well in pass protection.
Pro Football Focus ranked Moreno as its top free-agent running back of 2014, and the Dolphins might have a steal here.
- WR1: Mike Wallace
- WR2: Draft Pick
- WR3: Brian Hartline
Is it just me or are the Dolphins spending a lot of time talking to wide receivers this offseason? On Tuesday, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins show an interest in Marqise Lee of USC.
You could make the argument that receiver is Miami's deepest position, so why would it use a high draft pick on a wide receiver who could start right away?
The fact that three of Miami's receivers (Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns) are coming off major knee injuries suffered last season is one reason why Miami might be looking at receivers, but with all of this looking around, I don't see how it doesn't draft one.
It might not be Marqise Lee in the first round, but don't be surprised if Miami spends one of its first two picks on a receiver.
Tight End: Charles Clay
I have dreams of Charles Clay and Eric Ebron in two-tight end sets, dreams that are dashed by the crushing reality of Ebron being selected somewhere in the top 10.
Could Miami select a tight end later in the draft? It's a possibility, with Adam Beasley reporting that Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins could drop to the Dolphins in the second round. While I would like that to happen, I see the Dolphins being more likely to go wide receiver in the early rounds, not tight end.
This makes Charles Clay their one starting tight end, with Dion Sims getting some playing time as well.
- LT: Branden Albert
- LG: Shelley Smith
- C: Mike Pouncey
- RG: Dallas Thomas/Possible Free-Agent Signing
- RT: Draft Pick
The right side of the Dolphins offensive line is still in flux despite the fact that the left side is pretty much set for 2014.
Expect the Dolphins to use one of their first three picks on a right tackle, with right guard being filled out with either Dallas Thomas, Sam Brenner, Nate Garner or a late free-agent signing.
Defensive Tackles: Randy Starks and Jared Odrick
New free-agent acquisition Earl Mitchell will get plenty of playing time in Miami's defensive tackle rotation, but the starting jobs will likely go to Randy Starks and Jared Odrick.
This move will likely be due to continuity, as Odrick and Starks have played together along the defensive line since 2010 and last year played some snaps together at defensive tackle.
Mitchell will get his run and plenty of snaps, but he will have to greatly outperform Odrick or Starks to get the official starting job.
Defensive Ends: Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon
I'm not going to close the door on Dion Jordan winning a starting job at defensive end, as the Dolphins could (and should) use him more frequently.
However, Cameron Wake is a cornerstone of the defense (and franchise), while Olivier Vernon is coming off a great sophomore season.
Expect a rotation at defensive end, where you might not only see Wake and Vernon, but also Vernon and Jordan or Wake and Jordan.
- Strong-Side linebacker: Koa Misi
- Middle Linebacker: Draft Pick
- Weak-Side Linebacker: Dannell Ellerbe
I sincerely hope the name at middle linebacker is C.J. Mosley, who at this point would be my choice of first-round pick (if he's on the board).
Either way, Miami will have a new middle linebacker this season, whether it's Mosley or a second- or third-round pick.
I'm somewhat tempted to see the Dolphins move Misi to the middle and draft Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, but middle linebacker requires instincts that thus far I haven't seen in Misi.
Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes and Jamar Taylor
The Dolphins are expecting a lot out of second-year player Jamar Taylor, and I am too.
Despite the signing of Cortland Finnegan, I'm still pretty confident in the tools and talent that Taylor possesses and see him winning the starting job at cornerback alongside Brent Grimes.
As for Taylor's fellow second-year player, Will Davis, he will likely see the field as a nickelback and when the Dolphins start off with three corners in the secondary.
Safeties: Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas
Miami jettisoned Chris Clemons in favor of Louis Delmas in the hope of bringing more big plays to its secondary.
Delmas likely will start for the Dolphins—barring an injury, an excellent camp from one of the other young safeties on the team or the possible selection of Louisville's Calvin Pryor in the draft, per the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley.
I don't see the Dolphins drafting Pryor, and I'm not too sure any of the other safeties on the roster can take the job from Delmas.
- K: Caleb Sturgis
- P: Brandon Fields
- LS: John Denney
- KR/PR: Damian Williams
With the exception of the return duties, expect more of the same.
I wouldn't be surprised if Caleb Sturgis saw some competition brought in at kicker, which is something the Dolphins should consider if they aren't already.
The return duties should be one of the fiercest training camp battles of the summer, as Damian Williams should challenge the incumbent Marcus Thigpen for the role. More players could be added to that battle as the offseason progresses.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com.