Updated 53-Man Roster Projections for Dolphins Post-Week 3 of Preseason

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyContributor IAugust 25, 2014

Updated 53-Man Roster Projections for Dolphins Post-Week 3 of Preseason

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    The Dolphins need all the talent they can keep to have a successful 2014 season.
    The Dolphins need all the talent they can keep to have a successful 2014 season.Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins’ Week 3 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys not only produced a 25-20 victory, but also provided clarification on which bubble players should make the final 53-man roster. Projecting the final roster can be difficult because coaches and the front office will have their favorites due to what happens behind closed doors and during practices.

    But we can make some educated guesses based on who has been injured and who has received playing time earlier than others. 

    Let’s project the final 53-man roster for the Dolphins, and don’t forget to leave your thoughts on who will make the team in the comments section below.


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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

    The Dolphins seem destined to enter the season with just two quarterbacks after they released developmental quarterback Pat Devlin.

    Current third-string quarterback Brady Quinn is unlikely to make the final roster, as he registered zero offensive snaps in Week 3 against the Cowboys. His signing was likely to prevent arm fatigue with Tannehill and Moore, who are roster locks at this point.

    Despite a bloated $4 million salary, Matt Moore is capable of playing at a high level. He should be considered one of the best backups in the league and can start a few games if need be.

Running Backs

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, Damien Williams, Mike Gillislee 

    Lamar Miller is a lock to make the roster, as he will enter the season as the starting tailback. Although his statistics thus far have been mediocre, he’s been the victim of lineup changes along the offensive line. His abilities as a pass protector were underrated last season, and he is deserving of at least half of the carries.

    Although debuting in Week 3, Moreno has locked up his roster spot as well. His play against the Cowboys was impressive, as he showed precise cuts on running plays and stellar pass protection. He missed the first two preseason games due to a minor knee surgery, so the Dolphins might keep an extra back on the roster for insurance.

    According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Damien Williams has been the most impressive rookie of training camp practices. He’s played with the first team throughout the preseason, so it’s safe to say he’s also on the roster.

    The decision between injured backs Mike Gillislee and Daniel Thomas is going to be tough. A hamstring issue has sidelined Gillislee, and Thomas just returned to practice last week, according to Jackson.

    Gillislee gets the nod here over Thomas because he reportedly looked good before injury. Thomas hasn’t looked like a quality back since being drafted, so keeping him would be a head-scratching decision.

Wide Receivers

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams

    One of the Dolphins’ deepest positions, wide receiver has only one tough roster decision: Damian Williams or Armon Binns. Williams’ ability to replicate the skill set of Mike Wallace and work as a punt returner should make him the favorite.

    And of course, his 54-yard reception in Week 3 won’t hurt his chances either.

    The Dolphins have some talented young players in Matt Hazel, Kevin Cone and Ryan Spadola, but they’re more likely to end up on the practice squad for development.

Tight Ends

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Arthur Lynch, Harold Hoskins 

    The early release of third-year tight end Michael Egnew was a bit surprising, but he was yet to show his value to the Dolphins offense in his career.

    That leaves budding star Charles Clay and a pair of young players as locks on the roster. Sims saw significant time with the first team against the Cowboys, tallying 38 snaps as a fullback and tight end. Lynch is recovering from an undisclosed injury, per the Sun-Sentinel’s Chris Perkins, but releasing a mid-round draft pick so quickly is rare.

    Hoskins is certainly intriguing, and his projection is based off coach Joe Philbin’s former employer's, the Green Bay Packers, routine of keeping four tight ends. If the Dolphins follow suit, either Hoskins or Kyle Miller will make the team. Hoskins is similar to Clay, and his touchdown against the Cowboys will help his argument to make the team.

Offensive Line

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    LT Branden Albert, LG Daryn Colledge, C Samson Satele, RG Shelley Smith, RT Ja’Wuan James, OT/G Billy Turner, OG Dallas Thomas, OG/T Nate Garner, OG/C Sam Brenner, C Mike Pouncey (PUP list) 

    This projection is pretty easy as well.

    Despite the poor play of Dallas Thomas, he’s still going to be the second-string guard. He lost his starting position in Week 3 to Shelley Smith, and Smith played well enough to keep the job until further notice.

    The only lineman that could make the team as the 10th player on the depth chart is tackle Jason Fox. Fox was out for chunks of the offseason with leg and chest injuries, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. His return in Week 3 yielded poor results, earning a minus-1.5 Pro Football Focus grade in 44 snaps.

Defensive Line

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    DE Cameron Wake, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Derrick Shelby, DE Dion Jordan (suspended), DE Terrence Fede, DT Randy Starks, DT Jared Odrick, DT Earl Mitchell, DT A.J. Francis, DT Anthony Johnson

    The Dolphins have tremendous depth along the defensive front and could see their released players claimed by other teams.

    The main targets would be rookies Terrence Fede and Anthony Johnson, who have outplayed their draft positions (Fede was a seventh-round pick; Johnson was an undrafted free agent). With the knee injuries to Fede and A.J. Francis, according to the Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, Miami likely stocks up on extra linemen until Dion Jordan returns from his four-game suspension.


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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler, Jelani Jenkins, Jordan Tripp, Jason Trusnik, Chris McCain

    The Dolphins’ biggest problem area is linebacker, so they’re likely to use some roster spots to develop some of the young players that have flashed at the position through training camp.

    Ellerbe, Misi and Wheeler are the starters entering the season, as the veterans still give the Dolphins the best chance to win early on. Their play as a unit has been slightly better than their 2013 performances.

    Rookies Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain have played well for a fifth-round pick and undrafted player, respectively. They could conceivably see snaps early in the season as a rotational piece, and then possibly enter the starting lineup if their development continues.

    Jelani Jenkins and Jason Trusnik are nice backups, with Jenkins having some upside left if he can be more efficient at reading plays.

Defensive Backs

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    Cliff McBride/Getty Images

    CB Brent Grimes, CB Cortland Finnegan, CB Jamar Taylor, CB Will Davis, S Walt Aikens, S Reshad Jones (suspended), S Louis Delmas, S Jimmy Wilson, S Don Jones, S Michael Thomas

    The Dolphins defensive backs have separated themselves from the fodder on the depth chart this preseason, and there’s little debate that this group will make the roster.

    At cornerback, the Dolphins possess an impressive blend of veteran talent in Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan and second-year studs Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. That’s a solid base of talent to enter the season with. Jimmy Wilson will likely move back to cornerback once Reshad Jones returns from suspension.

    Safety is well established as well, with Louis Delmas being a first-year Dolphin and Michael Thomas having the versatility to play cornerback and safety. Don Jones is a special teams contributor, so he needs to stay as well.

Special Teams

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    P Brandon Fields, K Caleb Sturgis, LS John Denney 

    Brandon Fields is arguably the top punter in the league, so his roster spot is secure barring an injury. The Dolphins offense might not be planning on punting as much in 2013, but he’s a valuable player for this team.

    Caleb Sturgis could be placed on injured reserve if another talented kicker is released because he’s been battling a groin injury for nearly a month, according to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel.

    Sturgis had a poor rookie season, but was an excellent kicker at the University of Florida. Kickers that are injured can bounce around the league, but Miami might want to keep Sturgis if he can be a contributor. Otherwise, he could haunt the team like former Dolphin kicker Dan Carpenter did in 2013.

    All stats used are from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required) or Sports-Reference.com. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.com.

    Ian Wharton is a NFL featured columnist for Bleacher Report, contributor for Optimum Scouting and analyst for FinDepth. You can follow and interact with Ian Wharton on Twitter @NFLFilmStudy