Way-too-early Dolphins 53-man roster projection

The Miami Dolphins and coach Mike McDaniel are currently in the middle of their OTAs with one more coming on Thursday before they get a full week off.

During this time the coaches and members of the front office are doing a lot of teaching with some evaluating to best prepare these players for training camp, preseason games and, eventually, playing meaningful NFL games.

Since Brian Flores’ firing, McDaniel and Chris Grier have done extensive work to improve their roster with the hopes of getting their team to the playoffs this year.

While the start of actual football is so far away, it’s never a bad thing to take a look at who they have on the roster, and who could be suiting up once September goes around.

Here’s our super early 53-man roster projection for 2022.

Tua Tagovailoa

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The top two spots are guaranteed at this point. Miami will have to make a decision on just how many quarterbacks they want on the roster. Even if Skylar Thompson doesn’t make the final 53, there’s a pretty strong chance he (or someone else they bring in to compete with him) will be on the practice squad.

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Salvon Ahmed, Gerrid Doaks and ZaQuandre White miss the cut in this projection. This gives the Dolphins the most experienced group heading into the season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the three that missed the cut stick around on the practice squad.

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Wide receiver is one of the most interesting groups to watch this offseason. Hill, Waddle, Wilson Jr. and Ezukanma are all guaranteed a spot this year, so that leaves two or three spots up for grabs.

Williams, Bowden Jr. and Trent Sherfield seem to be in competition for those. This would, again, give them the most experience at this position. However, there’s a chance that Bowden starts the year on PUP or IR, as McDaniel has noted that he’s still working to come back from injury.

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Cethan Carter didn’t seem to be in the offensive plans for the future in Flores’ tenure, so this could change, but it feels like he’s the one out here. Miami could save $2.5 million by moving on from him before the season, giving them more money to potentially carry over into next season.

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Obviously, the performance of the offensive line will be something we will all monitor closely before the season starts. This group gives the Dolphins a decent mix of veterans and young players to grow and develop under the tutelage of offensive line coach Matt Applebaum.

There will likely be a mix of linemen who get kept around for the practice squad, but there are a couple of guys that they may want to move on from. They may be able to get a late-round pick for a guy like Solomon Kindley and releasing Greg Little would save another $1.5 million.

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Miami’s biggest decision to make on the defensive line will be Adam Butler or John Jenkins.

Butler saw the most opportunities of his career last season, playing 52.5% of defensive snaps, but his production didn’t really increase. He still hurried the quarterback 19 times, hit them three times, and sacked them twice.

Jenkins, on the other hand, was a healthy scratch for most of the season, playing in just seven games. Once Davis returned, Jenkins played just 17 snaps in their final 13 games.

The question here is: are Butler’s contributions worth the $4.15 million cap hit in 2022?

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10 may be a lot of linebackers, but they have so many different roles in this defense and on special teams that it only makes sense to have a bunch. The only two cuts at the position were Calvin Munson and Darius Hodge, who could both be back on the practice squad if that were the case.

They just have a lot of young talent and a lot of role players right now. It seems like Miami is seeing what they have at the position this season. After the year, there’s a good chance that half of the group is gone.

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There are no surprises here. The only cuts were Javaris Davis and Kader Kohou, who could make the practice squad if they have strong training camps. It’s still a little concerning that the Dolphins don’t have a ton of comfortable depth at the position, but this makes the most sense with what they have.

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McKinley’s leadership and knowledge of the game put him over a guy like D’Angelo Ross in this situation. He also had the ability to be productive on special teams, giving Miami the opportunity to move on from Clayton Fejedelem, whose release would save the Dolphins another $1 million.

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The only player being cut here is UDFA rookie punter Tommy Heatherly. It would take an extremely impressive offseason performance from him and a terrible one from Morstead for this to happen.

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