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Miami Dolphins Roster Grades by Position 2017

Dolphins roster Miami Rocks Via Flickr


Miami Dolphins Roster Grades by Position 2017

We’re taking a hard look at the roster heading into the 2017 season. In order to properly grade this Dolphins roster, let us rewind to last off-season. New Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is forced into an ugly cap situation. Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Rishard Matthews have all signed elsewhere. The 2016 season will be rough, maybe the Dolphins win 8 games?

Surprise, they won 10 games, made the playoffs, and were essentially a quarterback away from being a contender. The formula that Grier, Tannenbaum and Gase have developed is in full swing. After hitting home runs in free agency, things look excellent heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.



The skinny: In a strange way, this position looks deep heading into the season. Ryan Tannehill looked calm and collected last year before the injury. It appears things have clicked for him and the game is slowing down. No surgery on the knee means he will be ready for training camp. Matt Moore proved last year he can get the job done if called upon. Brandon Daughty is an unproven guy, although he put up big numbers at Western Kentucky.

Grade: B+ Contingent on Tannehill picking up where he left off last year.

Running Back

The skinny: Nobody was a free agent on the Dolphins roster this year. Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, and Kenyan Drake all produced last year. Drake is a great change of pace back who has some real speed. Ajayi will again get the bulk of the carries this year. When the blocking was there, Ajayi often would explode for big runs. Three 200-yard plus games didn’t happen by accident. If the passing game gets going, look for this group to really shine.

Grade: B- It all depends on the rest of the offense unfortunately. When the passing game doesn’t develop, and the blocking isn’t there, the Dolphins rarely reach the 100-yard mark.

Wide Receiver

The skinny: All three main receivers return, bringing some long needed continuity. Jarvis Landry says he will participate in OTA’s, which is positive news. Devante Parker has real potential, which we saw in flashes last year. If Parker can stay healthy, Kenny Stills is a guy who can take the top off the defense. Stills lead the team in touchdown receptions last year, expect that to continue this season.

Grade: A- Landry is a special player, who led the team in receptions and yards last year. Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo are solid backups. This is a position Miami can finally stop drafting at, and focus on other needs.

Offensive Line

The skinny: For almost a decade the Miami Dolphins offensive line has been a punch line in the NFL. However, things are changing in Miami. Brandon Albert was an excellent player, but could never stay healthy. Miami shopped him to Jacksonville, and picked up guard Ted Larsen. Laremy Tunsil’s true position is left tackle, so he will slide outside. Jermon Bushrod is back at guard after starting all 16 games last season. Mike Pouncey should be back at center, but always catches the injury bug. Larsen, Anthony Steen, and Kraig Urbik will all compete for the right guard position. Ja’Wuan James struggled at times last season, but is still the second best available tackle they have.

Grade: C This group can never stay healthy, someone is always hurt. If they all are healthy and play like they did during the six-game winning streak last year, this could be a special position in 2017. Look for Miami to draft a lineman early in the draft.

Tight End

The skinny: The middle of the field was not attacked last year, laregly because the options weren’t great on the Dolphins roster. Dion Sims has signed with Chicago, and Jordan Cameron finally is retiring after suffering four concussions in the last few years. Enter Julius Thomas, who had back to back years with 12 touchdown receptions when he was in Denver under Gase. Rated the best blocking tight in in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, Anthony Fasano is a seasoned veteran, who runs crisp short routes. MarQueis Gray will break the rotation, look for him to improve in his blocking this season.

Grade: B+ The last two years in Jacksonville, Thomas was injury prone and inconsistent. While this position has potential, nobody has proven anything in Miami.


Defensive Line

The skinny: After finishing 30th in rushing defense last year, the defensive line needs to step it up. It could be a scheme problem, the wide 9 defense focusing on pass rushing more than stopping the run. Cameron Wake and Andre Branch both inked 2-year deals.  Run-stopping defensive end William Hayes was acquired via trade from the LA Rams, adding another edge threat. Pro bowler Ndamukong Suh will occupy the middle, while Jordan Phillips starts beside him. Other Than those two, the depth at defensive tackle is extremely thin.

Grade: B- The defensive line is being addressed during the draft, there’s no doubt about that. The collection of star power is hard to ignore, but they need to put it all together.


The skinny: Since there are some free agents that are still out there, this is a hard position to judge. Kiko Alonso has returned to his former rookie self. Picking up Lawrence Timmons is an upgrade in the middle, letting Alonso play outside and use his athleticism. Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull and Deon Lacy are some name to watch, but expect Miami to play more nickel than we’ve seen in recent years.

Grade: C+ The overall depth is just not there. Outside of the starters, the backups are unproven and inexperienced. Drafting a young guy who can make an immediate impact has to be a priority in Miami.

Defensive Back

The skinny: There were some serious growing pains in 2016. Injuries, and inexperience took a toll on the passing defense. The Dolphins roster is very young, so after a couple years hopefully they can take the next step. Versatile safety Reshaad Jones returns after signing a long-term contract. Nate Allen will play alongside Jones at free safety, after playing for the Raiders last season. Allen is a rangy safety who brings some experience to the position. At corner, Byron Maxwell and last years second round pick Xavien Howard round out the starters. Corner Tony Lippett possess some real ball skills, and Bobby Mccain is best at nickel.

Grade: B- Consistency at corner needs to happen before they can take it to the next level defensively. Jones and Allen form one of the better safety tandems in the AFC,  while Walt Aikens has been a contributor at safety for a few years and should be in the rotation.

Overall Grade

The Miami Dolphins roster is finally looking like a playoff-caliber team. Needs have been filled, and now looking ahead to the draft, Miami can be flexible. They have the luxury to select best players available, since free agency has gone so well. After having a second year under Adam Gase, expect the offense to improve. Defensively, new defensive coordinator Matt Burke has some big shoes to fill. This Dolphins team has the potential to be the best in quite some time.

Overall Grade: B-



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