Defensive Line (11, with one on injured reserve)
LE – Kendall Langford, Ryan Baker, Ikaika Alama-Francis
NT – Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Travis Ivey (undrafted rookie), Montavious Stanley
RE – Jared Odrick (first-round pick – UNSIGNED), Tony McDaniel, Marques Douglas, Lionel Dotson, Phillip Merling (IR – quadriceps injury)
Langford and Starks are the only locks as starters. Everything else is open, and will come down to production. The end who plays Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long the best will wind up starting on the right side. Where the ends line – left or right – up will be fluid, but the guys who generally end up on the right side are the better pass rushers. Baker will likely be cross-trained as a end, and nose tackle. The Dolphins will likely keep at least eight defensive linemen on the 53-man roster.
WLB – Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, Chris McCoy (seventh-round pick)
MIKE ILB – Karlos Dansby, A.J. Edds (fourth-round pick), J.D. Folsom
MOE ILB – Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins, Austin Spitler (seventh-round pick)
SLB – Koa Misi (second-round pick – UNSIGNED), Quentin Moses, Erik Walden
I’ve made Wake the starter over Anderson because he’s a superior pass rusher, and this unit needs a serious threat to quarterbacks. But if Wake doesn’t improve his run support he’ll get pigeonholed into the pass rushing specialist role he had last season. Most of the outside linebackers, expect Misi, will go back and forth from weakside to strong side. Anderson’s the most versatile, so he’ll probably serve as the primary backup on both sides if he doesn’t win a starting job, which is still possible.
CB – Vontae Davis, Will Allen (Injured), Evan Oglesby, Nolan Carroll (fifth-round pick), A.J. Wallace (undrafted rookie)
CB – Sean Smith, Jason Allen, Nate Ness (converted practice squad safety), Ross Weaver (undrafted rookie)
FS – Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones (fifth-round pick)
SS - Yeremiah Bell, Tyrone Culver, Jonathon Amaya (undrafted rookie)
Davis and Smith should only be pushed by Will Allen for their starting spot, and that will only happen IF Will Allen’s fully recovered from his ACL injury. But it’s highly likely the unit’s veteran will end up the nickel cornerback. Five cornerbacks and four safeties will likely be kept on the 53-man roster, which means Jason Allen, Oglesby, Carroll, Wallace, Ness and Weaver are competing for the two spots behind the top three. Their special teams contribution will be a significant factor. Amaya’s a prime candidate to land on the practice squad if he continues impressing, and maybe he has the potential to do more.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
P – Brandon Fields
LS – John Denney
K – Dan Carpenter
Returners – Davone Bess, Patrick Cobbs, Brian Hartline, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Taurus Johnson, Kory Sheets, Tristan Davis and Marlon Moore.