Friday, August 29, 2008

Final 53-Man Roster Predictions: Defense & Special Teams

This is the second part of my final roster predictions, with this entry covering the defense and special teams. As stated in my offensive predictions (as in predictions on offensive players, not predictions that are offensive), I am predicting the 53-man roster based only on the players currently with the franchise. I will note, when applicable, when a player is a candidate to get replaced by another team's cut.

Defensive end

In: Kendall Langford, Phillip Merling, Vonnie Holliday, Randy Starks, Rodrique Wright
Out: Lionel Dotson

Not a ton of surprises here. Wright is the only real question mark, but he's had a good preseason and I like his potential and fit in the defense. The two high-drafted rookies have really impressed, Langford in particular. Meanwhile, seventh-round pick Dotson had been invisible prior to the Saints game and I think it's too little too late. He may, however, have earned himself a shot at the practice squad.

Nose tackle

In: Jason Ferguson, Paul Soliai
Out: Anthony Toribio

Ferguson is a lock as starter and is clearly a force in the interior line. Soliai has a ton of potential and has followed up a disappointing rookie season in 2007 with a strong camp and preseason. The team would be crazy to part ways with Soliai at this point, and you can be sure he'd be snatched up by a division rival immediately. Toribio, an undrafted rookie from Carson-Newman, has failed to stand out.

Outside linebacker

In: Joey Porter, Matt Roth, Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses, Rob Ninkovich
Out: Junior Glymph, Titus Brown, Maurice Fountain

If everyone had just listened to me from the beginning, Matt Roth could have been working at outside linebacker this whole time instead of just the last week or two! As it is, Roth is now the favorite to start on the strong side opposite Joey Porter. Behind those two, Quentin Moses and Charlie Anderson are not locks but will both make the team in my estimation. (Especially Moses, who I still feel has a ton of potential.) Ninkovich and Glymph are the favorites for a potential fifth and likely final outside linebacker spot and while Glymph has the Cowboys connection, Ninkovich has been more impressive in preseason which is why I'm giving him the nod. Brown hasn't stood out and Fountain, a recent addition, has very little pro experience.

Inside linebacker

In: Channing Crowder, Akin Ayodele, Reggie Torbor, Edmond Miles
Out: Kelly Poppinga

Crowder and Ayodele are entrenched as starters and Torbor seems to be the top backup. Miles is undersized for the scheme, but he's a very good special teamer which is why I'm initially giving him a spot here. Granted, he could easily be replaced by another team's cut, or he could give way to a player at another position (strong safety perhaps?). Poppinga, the brother of Packers starter Brady, just hasn't shown much of anything.

Cornerback

In: Will Allen, Andre' Goodman, Michael Lehan, Nathan Jones, Joey Thomas
Out: Will Billingsley

Out of the six players the Dolphins have at the position, the five most likely to make the team are blatantly obvious. Billingsley is very inexperienced and raw and is more of practice squad material. Meanwhile, Allen and Goodman should start with Lehan seeing plenty of playing time as well. Thomas and Jones are both former Cowboys who can hold down the No. 4 and 5 jobs, though neither will be completely safe until the season opener.

Safety

In: Chris Crocker, Jason Allen, Renaldo Hill, Yeremiah Bell
Out: Courtney Bryan

It seems Chris Crocker has become the favorite to start at free safety, while Renaldo Hill has had a strong preseason while recovering from a torn ACL. Jason Allen has had his moments too, and while he hasn't totally earned a roster spot I think the team will keep him around and continue to develop him. As a former first-rounder, it wouldn't be ideal to cut him anyway.

With the surprise release of Keith Davis, Courtney Bryan is the lone backup to Yeremiah Bell at strong safety. I still don't think Bryan makes the team, and if Bell has a true backup (as opposed to one of the free safeties doubling as one) it will likely come from another team.

Special teams

In: Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, John Denney
Out: Olindo Mare, Matt Turk, Ed Perry

Okay, so none of these guys actually have competition on the team right now. There's nothing to predict here.

Players most likely to be replaced by other teams' cuts:
1. Edmond Miles
2. Joey Thomas
3. Nathan Jones
4. Rob Ninkovich
5. Rodrique Wright

Most likely practice squad candidates:
1. Will Billingsley
2. Anthony Toribio
3. Lionel Dotson
4. Titus Brown
5. Maurice Fountain

And so concludes my final roster predictions for the Miami Dolphins in 2008. We'll know within the next two days how on (or off) the mark I was, and regardless of how well I did I'll be here with all the details on Miami's cuts as well as their additions that likely follow.