A battle that intrigues me in Miami Dolphins is the Defensive Tackle position. Here Jordan Phillips is battling incumbent starter Earl Mitchell for the honor of playing next to Ndamukong Suh, in the middle of the D-Line.
This battle is a battle of youth vs experience. The question is whether the young, talented Phillips can be consistent enough to take the starting job he was drafted for last year. So far reports have neither player asserting himself, so Mitchell may have a slight edge by default, for now.
Another battle going on involving numerous backup players is the cornerback job opposite of Byron Maxwell. If Xavien Howard hadn’t been injured, this would be his job to lose. Now several players are fighting it out, to impress coaches enough to be named starter. Players like Tony Lippett, Bobby McCain, Jordan Lucas, Ifo Ekpre Olomu and Chimdi Chekwa will be showing their best to coaches, to be named the 2nd starter. However, in today’s NFL you actually need three starting caliber corners because of all the three wide sets offenses run over 60% of the time. If the Dolphins are having trouble finding a second starter next to Byron Maxwell, I’m wondering how they will find a quality third corner, from this group. I think it is almost a given they will sign at least one or two free agents with starting experience before the season starts. This group may be the team’s Achilles Heel.
The last group I’m looking at is of course, the Offensive Line. It is almost scary to think that Dallas Thomas can be better than this year’s 1st round pick Laremy Tunsil. But Thomas had been getting the starters nod during the first week of Training Camp. The set positions are Center Mike Pouncy, LT Branden Albert, and RT Juwan James. Players like Billy Turner, Jermon Bushrod, Jamil Douglas and Kraig Urbik are fighting with Tunsil and Thomas, for the two starting guard spots.
Although this position is considered a weakness right now, the Dolphins do have talent and potential here. If everyone plays up to par, the Offensive Line can be a real strength for this team. I know Ryan Tannehill hopes so…
Like most NFL teams, the Dolphins can ill afford injuries to their starters. As Adam Gase builds this team, I expect both starters and back-ups will get stronger at all positions. When this happens, the Dolphins will win more often.
For now, cross your fingers and hope the Dolphins don’t have to reach too far down the depth chart of their roster, to find starters.