Pre-Camp Analysis: Defensive Line

As we start heading closer to the 2007 training camp, we break down the Dolphins position by position, analyzing what they did in the offseason and what to expect in the upcoming season. We continue our series with a look at the defensive line.

Who's new: DE Mkristo Bruce (undrafted rookie), DT Marquay Love (undrafted rookie), DT Paul Soliai (draft)

Who's gone: DE Kevin Carter (released), DE David Bowens (UFA, N.Y. Jets), DT Frederick Evans (released), DT Jeff Zgonina (UFA, Houston), DT Dan Wilkinson (released), DT Manny Wright (released)

Who's back: DE Jason Taylor, DE Matt Roth, DT Rodrique Wright, DT Steve Fifita, DT Kevin Vickerson, DT Keith Traylor, DT Vonnie Holliday, DT Chase Page

What happened in the offseason: The Dolphins had the most veteran depth on the defensive line in the league the last two seasons, but a lot of that depth disappeared when the team said goodbye to Kevin Carter and Dan Wilkinson and lost David Bowens and Jeff Zgonina in free agency. There remains a solid core, however, thanks to Jason Taylor and the ability to re-sign free agent-to-be Vonnie Holliday.

What to expect: The Dolphins have three prime-time starters on the defensive line in Taylor, Holliday and nose tackle Keith Traylor, so this again should be a strong area. The big concern here is whether Matt Roth, who lacks ideal size for the position, can do the job as the replacement for veteran Kevin Carter, who was a solid and dependable defensive end for two seasons. The Dolphins also are hoping for big things from fourth-round pick Paul Soliai, and they'll need that because Traylor has slowed down in the second half of each of the last two seasons, partly because of injuries and also because of his age. There were many observers who considered Soliai a steal in the fourth round, so there's reason for optimism there.

What we think: There's just no way the Dolphins will be quite as good along the defensive line as they were the last two years because their depth simply was amazing. The Dolphins might have taken a big gamble when they let Carter go because of Roth's size and the fact that he needs to prove he can be an every-down lineman in the NFL. It also was a shame to see the Dolphins lose David Bowens, who not only was a very good third-down pass rusher but an important contributor on special teams as well. The bottom line, though, is the Dolphins have perhaps the best defensive lineman in the game (Taylor), one of the most versatile (Holliday) and perhaps the toughest run stopper around (Traylor).


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.