Friday, May 8, 2009

Dolphins Depth: Defense

We've drafted, the dread and speculation, the wait time, all gone. Yet as fans, it is true that this never really leaves. Speculation, like energy, just exerts itself into another direction, and for us Miami Dolphins, there are many directions in which this speculation can branch.

Miami attacked the skills position in this past draft, bringing in Cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, and safety Chris Clemons. They also drafted a project OLB in J.D. Folsom, and signed Defensive ends Ryan Baker and Orion Martin, and Nose Tackle Louis Ellis as undrafted free agents.

Hence, a reshaping of the defensive side of the ball is expected, and I assume it will look something like this:

D-Line: In 2008, the Miami Dolphins carried 10 Defensive linemen, including Hybrid LB/DE Matt Roth. Using the same number for available spots, Miami's Defensive Line should look similar to this:

Defensive Ends: We can assume that Miami's starting ends will consist of a rotation between Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, and Randy Starks. Lionel Dotson had a solid year, and seems to continue to show promise, and as of now John Denney is our Long Snapper. We also acquired Tony McDaniel this offseason from Jacksonville who has prototypical 3-4 DE size, and the versatility to play all 3 positions at the line for Miami. The last spot should be a battle between Rodrique Wright, and undrafted free agents Ryan Baker and Orion Martin, but it's likely neither of them make it so the Dolphins have room to carry additional linebackers.

  • My picks: Phillip Merling, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Lionel Dotson, Tony McDaniel and John Denney.

Defensive Tackles/Nose Tackles: Jason Ferguson is the starting nose tackle in our 3-4 scheme. Outside of that, it's likely a battle for 1 spot between Paul Soliai, Joe Cohen, and undrafted free agent Louis Ellis. I expect to see Soliai win the battle, but it's his last chance to prove himself.
  • My Picks: Jason Ferguson, Paul Soliai. Cohen and Ellis will battle for a practice squad spot.
Linebackers: In 2008, the Miami Dolphins carried 6 linebackers, not including Matt Roth, whom they listed as a hybrid LB/DE on the roster. That said, I will assume they'll carry more than last year. The Miami Dolphins linebacking corps should look similar to this:

Inside Linebackers: Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele will likely be the starters, similar to last season, and Reggie Torbor will be the immediate backup. Miami has more versatile OLB that can play ILB if the need arises.

Outside Linebackers: Joey Porter and Matt Roth are locks. The organization also seems to be extremely high on Canadian import Cameron Wake and Erik Walden. I believe that they will carry more than seven linebackers though, and thats where the battle ensues. Other candidates to make the team on the roster are William Kershaw, George Tearrius, Charlie Anderson, JD Fossom, and Quentin Moses.
  • My Prediction: Channing Crowder, Akin Ayodele, Reggie Torbor, Joey Porter, Matt Roth, Cameron Wake, Erik Walden, Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses. Folsom and Kershaw should battle for a spot on the practice squad.
Secondary: The Miami Dolphins carried 10 defensive backs last year, and with some differences, I expect to see the same number on the opening day roster this year. Here's how the Miami secondary should look:

Cornerback: Incumbent starter Will Allen will likely start the season opposite rookie Vontae Davis. Eric Green and Sean Smith should battle for the nickel and dime, and Jason Allen and Nathan Jones should be on the roster as well.

Safety: Newly signed Gibril Wilson will team up with Yeremiah Bell to create one of the hardest hitting safety tandems in the league. Chris Clemons has already impressed through rookie camp and will likely be the first alternate, with Tyrone Culver behind him.

  • My Predictions: Will Allen, Eric Green, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Jason Allen, Nathan Jones, Gibril Wilson, Yeremiah Bell, Chris Clemons, and Tyrone Culver. Joey Thomas, Will Billingsley, Scorpio Babers, Courtney Bryan and Ethan Kilmer should compete for two practice squad spots.


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