Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Breaking down the Miami Dolphins' first depth chart

NFL teams traditionally release a depth chart during training camp. Although these can mean very little and are typically just thrown together by the team to feed to the media, it's impossible to not try and find some clues to the eventual 53-man roster that will be derived from the current crop of 90 players.

The Miami Dolphins released their initial depth chart of the 2012 training camp Monday, and it's safe to say there is a healthy mixture of the obvious and the surprising. Here are my thoughts on what was revealed...

(depth charts courtesy Ben Volin/Palm Beach Post)


Offense
WRLegedu NaaneeJulius PruittJeff Fuller*Rishard Matthews*
WR-slotDavone BessClyde GatesB.J. Cunningham*Chris Hogan
LTJake LongLydon MurthaRay FeingaWill Yeatman
LGRichie IncognitoEric SteinbachChandler Burden
CMike PounceyJosh Samuda*Ryan Cook
RGArtis HicksNate GarnerJohn Jerry
RTJonathan Martin*Andrew McDonald*Will Barker
TEAnthony FasanoCharles ClayJeron MastrudMichael Egnew*Les Brown*
WRChad JohnsonBrian HartlineMarlon MooreRoberto Wallace
QBDavid GarrardMatt MooreRyan Tannehill*Pat Devlin
FBJorvorskie Lane*Ryan MahaffeyJerome Messam*
RBReggie BushDaniel ThomasSteve SlatonLamar Miller*Marcus ThigpenJonas Gray*


Observations

  • No surprises at the quarterback position. David Garrard looks like the clear favorite to start in 2012, so the only question that remains is whether or not Matt Moore stays as the backup. If the Dolphins are comfortable with Ryan Tannehill being No. 2 (essentially meaning he'd be the starter if Garrard goes down) then Moore would probably be dealt for a draft pick like the the team did with Josh McCown in 2008.
  • I don't expect the Dolphins' fullback to have a huge role on the team, but it's surprising to see Jorvorskie Lane listed as a starter. With Charles Clay officially listed as a tight end, there aren't many good options at fullback with Lane, Ryan Mahaffey and Jerome Messam, who still doesn't seem to be 100% back from a knee injury. It'd be pretty surprising if a chunky former Indoor Football League player in Lane became the Dolphins' starting fullback.
  • Legedu Naanee's good camp is reflected here as he's listed as a starter, though Brian Hartline's injury hasn't hurt. The question with Naanee is if he can translate it to the regular season. He's always been a great specimen, but he's failed to establish himself as an NFL receiver in five seasons with Philip Rivers and Cam Newton throwing to him.
  • A bit shocking that Roberto Wallace is at the bottom of the depth chart, because the local media had been talking him up all camp. I love him on special teams, but perhaps he isn't as close to a roster spot as I thought. One would hope Clyde Gates still has a shot, too.
  • Also disappointing to see both drafted rookie receivers (Cunningham and Matthews) below the undrafted Jeff Fuller. Fuller himself seems like pure practice squad material, so perhaps only one of Cunningham/Matthews (if that) will make the practice squad.
  • Charles Clay officially moves to tight end and I suspect the team has big plans for him. I can't imagine they'd part ways with third-rounder Egnew either, and that means they've have four tight ends if Jeron Mastrud is kept as a blocker.
  • Ray Feinga continues to work at tackle (where he played last preseason) and is reportedly down to 315. I'm not sure if it'll be enough to secure a roster spot unless Nate Garner is cut.
  • It doesn't bode well for Ryan Cook and Will Barker that two undrafted rookies are ahead of them on the depth chart. Josh Samuda might lock up the backup center job, and though I don't suspect Andrew McDonald lands a roster spot, it doesn't seem like Barker will, either.
  • John Jerry being third on the depth chart at right guard is no surprise. His body doesn't fit the scheme and it seems like the new staff has had no interest in keeping him. He's as much a goner as anyone.


Defense
LEJared OdrickDerrick Shelby*Jarrell Root*
DTRandy StarksTony McDanielChas Alecxih*
DTPaul SoliaiKheeston Randall*Isaako AaituiRyan Baker
RECameron WakeOlivier Vernon*Jamaal WestermanJaquies Smith*
SLBKevin BurnettGary GuytonJonathan FreenyShelly Lyons*
MLBKarlos DansbyAustin SpitlerCameron Collins*
WLBKoa MisiJason TrusnikJosh Kaddu*
CBSean SmithNolan CarrollJonathan WadeTrenton Hughes*Marcus Brown
CBRichard MarshallVontae DavisQuinten LawrenceKevyn Scott*
SChris ClemonsJimmy WilsonTyrell JohnsonKelcie McCray
SReshad JonesTyrone CulverAnderson Russell


Observations

  • Although I'd always said undrafted end Derrick Shelby had a good chance to make the team, it's surprising to see him with the second team and veteran Jamaal Westerman third behind another rookie in Olivier Vernon. Still, it wouldn't surprise me to see them keep five ends total, especially with Odrick a part-time interior guy.
  • It appears seventh-rounder Kheeston Randall is the inside track for a potential fourth defensive tackle spot, which isn't surprising because Ryan Baker and Isaako Aaitui just don't offer much upside. One wonders if Tony McDaniel and his $3 million salary could be on the chopping block.
  • The top backups at linebacker aren't surprising, and for now it seems like Austin Spitler is holding off undrafted rookie Cameron Collins for a backup middle job. I wouldn't be surprised if Guyton or Trusnik gets cut, however, depending on how fifth-rounder Josh Kaddu is progressing.
  • Perhaps the biggest shock of the depth chart, Vontae Davis is officially listed as a backup behind Sean Smith and free-agent addition Richard Marshall. This has been reflected in practices and it's clear the team feels the need to send Davis a message right now. I can't imagine Marshall is truly beating him out, because Davis is by far the most talented and proven corner on the roster.
  • Tyrell Johnson is practically gone after doing nothing in camp, but Anderson Russell has been shining at times and may have a shot at a fifth safety/special teams spot. It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Culver or Wilson gets cut, but I don't see it happening.


Special Teams
PBrandon Fields
KDan Carpenter
KODan Carpenter
HBrandon Fields
KORMarcus ThigpenLamar Miller*Steve SlatonClyde Gates
PRDavone BessMarcus ThigpenClyde GatesRishard Matthews*
LSJohn Denney


Observations

  • Marcus Thigpen might be listed as the primary kick returner, but I don't see him making the team because he doesn't contribute in other areas. Lamar Miller and Steve Slaton seem like the obvious choices here, although Gates could factor in if he somehow makes the team.
  • Just FYI, if Davone Bess continues to return punts, I'm going to shoot myself. He's fairly sure-handed as a returner, but he has no big return ability. It's just awful to watch.

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