Barry Jackson: Where the Miami Dolphins stand on defense, what’s ahead and who’s at risk of being cut

Tribune Content Agency

MIAMI — A look at where the Miami Dolphins’ defensive depth chart stands after the heavy lifting of free agency and three weeks from the NFL Draft:



— Under contract (11): Davon Godchaux, Christian Wilkins, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Zach Sieler, Gerald Willis, Charles Harris, Jonathan Ledbetter, Avery Moss, Taco Charlton, Durval Queiroz-Neto.

— What’s ahead: Expect the Dolphins to add at least one defensive tackle and another edge player in the draft — whether it’s a defensive end or outside linebacker.

There figures to be one or two additions to the likely defensive line rotation of Godchaux, Wilkins, Lawson and Ogbah. Sieler, who played very well in the Week 16 Bengals game, will get a long look in training camp and preseason. So might Ledbetter, who started the opener but was lost for the season in that game.

— Who’s at risk of being cut before training camp: Perhaps Queriroz-Neto; the Dolphins received an NFL exemption to keep him as an 11th player on their practice squad last season. Moss and Charlton could make it to camp, but the odds are against both making the roster, considering Charlton was a healthy scratch three of the final five games. Moss must do better work against the run, which was considered his strength when Miami claimed him off waivers last year.

Keep in mind that the Dolphins have 78 players under contract, own 14 draft picks and typically add a dozen or so undrafted rookies after the draft. Considering that teams cannot keep more than 90 players under contract at one time, a dozen or more players likely will need to be purged.



— Under contract (14): Jerome Baker, Kyle Van Noy, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan, Andrew Van Ginkel, Vince Biegel, Sam Eguavoen, Trent Harris, Calvin Munson, Jake Carlock, James Crawford, Jamal Davis and Terrill Hanks.

— What’s ahead: Miami figures to add at least three more linebackers with a chance to make the team in the draft process — at least one more inside linebacker and at least one more edge player.

— Who’s at risk of being cut before training camp: Any of the final five on that list — Munson, Carlock, Crawford, Davis and Hanks, simply because additional spots need to be created on the 90-man offseason roster.

Of the other nine, Baker, Van Noy, McMillan, Biegel, Grugier-Hill and Roberts presumably will be on the team; Van Ginkel has a very good chance; and Eguaoven and Harris made a case for a second season here with some good moments late in the year, particularly as pass rushers. But more will be added.



— Under contract (16): safeties Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Adrian Colbert, Steven Parker, Clayton Fedejelem and Montre Hartage and cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Nik Needham, Ken Webster, Jamal Perry (who changed his name from Jomal Wiltz), Tae Hayes, Cordrea Tankersley, Ryan Lewis, Nate Brooks and Linden Stephens.

— What’s ahead: Figure on at least two more being added in the draft — one safety and a cornerback. Though the Dolphins intend to play McCain at safety at this point — from all indications — there’s always the possibility that Miami could take a safety in the second round (such as Cal’s Ashtyn Davis) and move McCain back to nickel corner if that rookie seizes a starting job opposite Rowe.

— Who’s at risk of being cut: Probably Tankersley (hasn’t played in a year and a half after a major knee injury), Brooks and Stephens. Of the young cornerbacks added during the 2019 season, Hayes and Lewis were the most impressive. And Webster — claimed before the season after the Patriots cut the rookie seventh-round pick — had some good moments before going on injured reserve Dec. 10.



— Under contract (3): kicker Jason Sanders, punter Matt Haack and long snapper Taybor Pepper.

— What’s ahead: With tough decisions looming for spots on the 90-man roster, it’s questionable if Miami will bring in competition for any of its three specialists, unless there’s an undrafted player they really like.

Another option is simply bringing in players at those positions for tryouts but not signing them to the 90. But at the moment, teams aren’t permitted to bring players to their facility because of the coronavirus pandemic.



Haack, who had been a restricted free agent, signed his tender and will remain with the Dolphins on a one-year, $2.1 million contract.

Biegel, the other restricted free agent tendered by the Dolphins, hadn’t signed his tender as of Wednesday afternoon.


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