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Dolphins Filling Out Roster, But Plenty of Questions Left

Despite the everlong NFL lockout, the Miami Dolphins have still managed to fill out the roster through the draft earlier this spring.

While they failed to answer all of the pressing questions that they faced entering the off-season, they added some what hopes to be, integral parts to the offense. With the team filling the needs at center/guard, running back, tight end, and speed wide receiver/returner, the Dolphins offense should be loaded with even more weapons than we’ve seen in years.

While the team will undoubtedly be shedding some contracts, such as Ricky Williams, and possibly Ronnie Brown, and Tony McDaniel, the team is looking to retain at least one or two of those aforementioned players.

With free agency set to start later than usual this year because of the ongoing lockout, that should take care of even more roster spots. The Dolphins are believed to be taking an interest in DeAngelo Williams, and possibly Mike Sims-Walker, this off-seasons emphasis is undoubtedly the offensive side of the ball.

But the questions going into this season will not be how many holes the Fins need to fill, but who will start, and whether those players can be competent enough for the Dolphins to contend for a playoff birth this year.

Even though the Dolphins strong suit is defense, they have an enormous amount of depth on the defensive line, and also will be stretched thin at outside linebacker this season.

The Dolphins placed the franchise tag on Paul Solia, and Randy Starks and either Jared Odrick, or Tony McDaniel will get the start alongside him depending on whether or not McDaniel is retained.

At the linebacker spots, Channing Crowder, Karlos Dansby, and Cameron Wake will be the stars of this corps, with Koa Misi on the rise as well. But after the starting four, the depth behind them is a question mark. Who steps in if someone goes down with an injury? Who steps up if someones play is poor? The front four is solid, but I have concerns with our depth.

There is also a glaring question mark at free safety. Who will win the job this year, Reshad Jones, or Chris Clemons? Last year Clemons was the starter, and was decent until the end of the year when he was playing with a lower body injury. But with Jones showing promise in short stints last year, it may be his time to shine this season. But for now, the job is Clemons’ to lose. Either way, we have a lot of inexperience at the position, and this is shaping up to be the weak spot in the secondary. With the lockout shaping up to go deep into the summer, our corners may be faced to play on an island, without the reliability of the free safety up top.

While there are only a few concerns on the defensive side of the ball, the filling out of the offensive roster should be a roller coast of a ride to try and complete.

For starters, even though everyone is looking for the team to bring in someone to compete for the quarterback job with Chad Henne, the job will ultimately be his. He’s doing all of the right things this summer to help lead this team despite the team being locked out of the facilities. Along with him as being a lock to start are probably only Jake Long at left tackle, Vernon Carey at right tackle, Anthony Fasano at tight end, and Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess at wide receiver.

The other half of our offense is a mess. If the Dolphins retain Brown, there would be no need to pursue DeAngelo Williams. But at this point, it is looking like Brown would be their second option, behind Williams. Whoever is signed to work with rookie Daniel Thomas, they will most likely be working in a two-back system. Thomas is the back of the future, no matter who they bring in, and they will try to incorporate him into the offense as much as they can this season.

One of the main reasons the running game was so ineffective last year was because of the shaky offensive line play. This was mostly in part because of injuries and an influx of multiple starting groups throughout the season.

Head coach Tony Sparano is looking to settle his starting roster before the season, and with only two spots guaranteed filled, the Dolphins will need to fill the rest of the interior line.

The Dolphins do have choices to pick from though, such as Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, and Nate Garner. I expect those three to start, but it is up in the air at which positions they will play at. This will be one of the biggest questions going into the season, who will start, and where.

With Marshall, and Bess set to start, the backup spots will be most likely handed to Brian Hartline and rookie Edmond Gates. Gates is a speed receiver who will be a deep threat if he can show the coaches enough to get him playing time.

The Dolphins still have a lot of questions to answer heading into the season. They don’t necessarily need to fill  a lot of roster spots, but they need to figure out who will be their starters, and who can be a player for them, and who cannot.

Once the off-season activities startup, it should be a whirlwind process for the Dolphins, and monitoring who is making a move in camp and who is a disappointment.

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