Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dolphins trim roster to 53

The deadline for final cuts came and went this afternoon and the Dolphins parted ways with 17 players to get down to the 53-man limit. Keep in mind that although certain players did not get cut today, it does not mean they are safe for the regular season. The team is sure to add some players from other teams' cuts, which will push some more guys off the roster.

For now, here are the team's final cuts, along with some brief analysis.

CB Will Billingsley

Billingsley had intriguing physical tools but was way too raw to make the roster over the likes of Nathan Jones and Joey Thomas. He could be a project on the practice squad.

LB Titus Brown

Brown is a solid pass-rushing prospect but did not stand out in preseason. He too is a candidate for the practice squad.

S Courtney Bryan

Even with the release of Davis, Bryan didn't have a good chance to make the roster as Yeremiah Bell's backup. If the Dolphins don't add anyone else, a free safety like Renaldo Hill will probable double as a backup strong safety. As a Cameron signing with no practice squad eligibility, it seems unlikely he'll return to Miami.

C Mike Byrne

The writing was on the wall for my boy Byrne when he didn't play in the final two preseason games. Not surprisingly, I've been told he isn't in consideration for the practice squad right now.

WR Jayson Foster

Foster's size will always be a negative and he failed to make up for it with any impressive special teams play in the preseason. I expect he could make he practice squad, but if Armstrong gets cut in favor of a waiver claim, Armstrong would probably jump him in line for that.

LB Maurice Fountain

Fountain never really had a shot to make the team. He's had on great year in af2 and a barely notable year in the arena league. The talent just isn't there.

LB Junior Glymph

Glymph had a slight edge having been in camp with the Cowboys last season, but Rob Ninkovich easily outplayed him for a reserve outside linebacker spot. He'll probably continue to be a journeyman.

T Daren Heerspink

He may have been only one of four tackles on the roster, but he never showed enough to warrant an active roster spot. The Dolphins will look at other teams' cuts for tackle depth.

RB Lex Hilliard

Hilliard showed very little in the preseason, averaging 2.8 yards per carry in mop-up duty in the preseason. Fellow sixth-rounder Jalen Parmele made the team and is far and away the better prospect. I'm not even sure Hilliard has earned a roster spot at this point.

FB Reagan Mauia

Some fans (and EA Sports, who rated him an 89 in Madden 09) might be surprised, but I'm not. I had initially expected Mauia to make the team because of his upside, but Boomer Grigsby clearly outperformed Mauia in camp and preseason and this was clearly the right choice. Mauia is overrated as a blocker, he's not a good ball carrier, he can't catch the ball and he doesn't play special teams. Of course, he'll probably end up on the Patriots and rush for 100 yards against us.

LB Edmond Miles

This is one of the two cut I did not predict, though it's certainly not surprising. I had Miles making the roster solely because of his special teams play, but I fully realize he's very undersized for the scheme and understand this move completely. The Dolphins will look for a more appropriate backup inside. (Ahmad Brooks, please.)

TE Matthew Mulligan

Perhaps the least surprising cut of all. Mulligan entered camp as the sixth tight end and only moved up to fifth because Aaron Halterman went on injured reserve. A pure blocking tight end, I'm not sure he has a future in this league.

TE Justin Peelle

A surprise to some, Peelle was simply beat out by Ryan as the No. 3 tight end. Ryan showed good blocking skills in the preseason and even made a great touchdown catch against the Saints. Peelle will catch on somewhere else.

LB Kelly Poppinga

Another guy that really never had a prayer. Poppinga was invisible in the preseason and clearly is not older brother Brady, who starts for the Packers.

G/T Pedro Sosa

This might not be the end for Sosa in Miami. The most recent signing on the team, Sosa wasn't around long enough to contribute right away, but he should be a practice squad candidate and, if so, could be activated during the season.

G Matt Spanos

I initially had Spanos making the roster, but he was a guy I felt would be replaced by a waiver claim and wouldn't be around at the season opener. With Spanos already cut and only eight offensive linemen on the team, it seems another cut down survivor will get the axe instead of Spanos. He is a candidate for the practice squad, but I'd prefer Sosa.

DT Anthony Toribio

3-4 teams often only keep two nose tackles and Toribio had little chance of making the roster with Jason Ferguson and Paul Soliai ahead of him. His future in the league might not extend far behind this preseason.

Overall, the players that were cut that I did not predict were Edmond Miles and Matt Spanos. Making the team that I did not predict were Anthony Armstrong and Lionel Dotson. Other than that it seems I was right on, but then again there weren't many hard predictions here. It's the sign of a team that's really lacking depth and still rebuilding.

Of the guys that survived the final cuts, I'd consider these five the most likely to be cut in favor of outside players prior to the season opener:

1. Anthony Armstrong
2. Lionel Dotson
3. Quentin Moses
4. Rob Ninkovich
5. Ike Ndukwe

If I had to make one specific guess, I'd say that one of the sixth receivers (likely Armstrong) will be cut in favor of a ninth offensive lineman. There is no way the team goes into the regular season with only eight offensive lineman.

Remember, the Miami's roster will not be finalized until the Jets and Dolphins square off on Sept. 7, so keep checking back for any roster moves the team makes over the next week.