Does Roth Have a Role?

Most of the buzz around the Dolphins in recent weeks has centered around one of last year's two starting defensive ends, but the suspicion is the other one will find himself in the news at some point as well. And the thinking is that Matt Roth isn't going to like what's going to happen to him.

One look at Roth, and it's tough to envision exactly how he fits into the Dolphins defense next season.

Even though new coach Tony Sparano has refused to state it publicly, it's obvious the Dolphins will be going with a predominantly 3-4 defense in 2008, and that leaves Roth on the outside looking in.

He got his first shot at a starting job last season, but the team employed a 4-3 as its favored based alignment. And Roth, to be kind, was rather unimpressive.

It's actually fair to say he looked physically overmatched at defensive end, and his final stats of 44 tackles and three sacks would reflect that.

The bad news for Roth is he was able to play in space a lot more in a 4-3 than he ever would in a 3-4, where defensive ends do a lot more dirty work and usually are bigger guys.

Roth is listed on the Dolphins roster at 6-4, 272, and that's about at least 10 to 15 pounds lighter than you can have a guy at that position. On top of that, Roth has short arms.

Taylor also is too small to play defensive end in the 3-4, but he's more than athletic enough to make the move to outside linebacker, which he did fairly enough under Nick Saban's hybrid defense in 2005 and 2006.

Roth is out of luck when it comes to that. He's not nearly quick enough to be a major factor as a blitzer and he probably would struggle badly in coverage.

None of this has changed since Saban made Roth a second-round pick in 2005, but the hope was that Roth's high intensity would help compensate for his physical shortcomings.

Unfortunately, it hasn't played out that way so far. Roth was a backup behind Kevin Carter in his first two seasons before he got his shot last year.

That more than likely will be the only shot he'll get to start for the Dolphins. The team has stocked up on defensive linemen in the offseason, and several of them fit the mold of the 3-4 defensive end.

The list of guys who look like better candidates for the defense than Roth include second-round pick Phillip Merling, third-round choice Kendall Langford, free agent pick-up Randy Starks, as well as 2006 seventh-round pick Rodrique Wright. And then, of course, there's Vonnie Holliday, who will make the move from starting defensive tackle to defensive end.

So, you see, there are a lot of guys that Roth will have to beat out for a roster spot, let alone a starting job.

But it just doesn't look like that's going to be happening. Instead, we're likely to see Roth in the transaction section in one form or another.

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