Early predictions for the Dolphins final 53: Defense


DE Dion Jordan
Defensive Line


IN:  Cameron Wake,  Dion Jordan, Olivier Vernon,  Randy Starks,  Jared Odrick,  Earl Mitchell,  AJ Francis, Derrick Shelby

OUT: Isaac Autui, Terrance Fede,  Kamal Johnson,  Tevin Mims,  Anthony Johnson,  Garrison Smith

What to expect:  Even with the departure of DT Paul Soliai, this defensive line unit is still loaded with talent from top to bottom.  Led by Cam Wake, the defensive ends are fast and athletic while the defensive tackle position has both size and depth.  Dion Jordan is poised for a breakout season and should see far more snaps this year at defensive end, and Olivier Vernon will look to build on a terrific sophomore year (11.5 sacks).  Third year pro Derrick Shelby was impressive last season in his limited role and should make the roster specializing on special teams.  I expect newly acquired DT Earl Mitchell (Texans) to rotate with Jared Odrick and Randy Starks as starting DT's with AJ Francis beating out Isaac Autui for the final tackle spot.

Linebacker

IN: Dannell Ellerbe,  Phillip Wheeler, Koa Misi,  Jelani Jenkins, Jordan Tripp, Jonathan Freeny, Jason Trusnik

Koa Misi
OUT:  Chris McCain, Tariq Edwards,  Derrell Johnson,  Marcus Thompson,  Andrew Wilson

What to expect: This group will be especially interesting to watch once training camp opens up. Koa Misi has been working as MLB during OTA's with Dannell Ellerbe moving to his regular strong side position. Misi, a seasoned vet, fits the mold of a MLB but results will remain to be seen. From a fan prospective, it can't get much worse than last year from this group. I applaud the late round addition of LB Jordan Tripp and think he can be a day one contributor especially on special teams. I also expect big things from second year LB Jelani Jenkins who showed signs of improvement late last season. I have Jonathan Freeny and Jason Trusnik slotted to make the roster yet again this year, but believe the Dolphins could, and probably should, add a veteran linebacker to fill one of those roster spots before the season begins.


Cornerback


IN:  Brent Grimes,  Jamar Taylor,  Cortland Finnegan,  Will Davis,  Walt Aikens,  Don Jones

OUT:  Anthony Gaitor,  Jalil Brown,  

What to expect:  Brent Grimes will hold it down.  The pro bowler proved that last season.  The big question here is, who will hold down that #2 spot?  Last years rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis failed to show up in year one so the coaching staff brought in veteran CB Cortland Finnegan to push the young guys.  The Dolphins also drafted CB Walk Aikens, a big bodied corner to compete and play special teams.  I expect a hard battle among Taylor, Finnegan and Davis for the #2 role, but expect Jamar Taylor to eventually win the role to play opposite Grimes.  Don Jones will also make the roster for his great special teams play despite his offseason suspension.


Safety


IN:   Reshad Jones,  Louis Delmas, Jimmy Wilson, Jordan Kovacs, Michael Thomas

OUT:  Demetrius Wright

What to expect:  Not going to lie, this group scares me a bit.  Reshad Jones took a big step backwards after a big pay day and a great 2012 season. The Dolphins aren't sure what they are getting from newly acquired FS Louis Delmas who has only played a 16 game season once in his career.  The lack of depth in this unit is what scares me the most.  Jimmy Wilson has shown signs of good play, but is often inconsistent.  Michael Thomas hasn't been given an opportunity to show what he can do yet, and if Jordan Kovacs makes the team, it will be strictly as a special teams player.  On the bright side, Delmas shows an extreme passion for the game and will hopefully become a vocal leader for this defense.  I assume the Dolphins will give Jimmy Wilson a bigger role either at FS or continue to plug him in as the nickle corner if nobody from the CB unit steps up.  This group will likely ride with Jones and Delmas roaming the secondary, but  It wouldn't surprise me if hey bring in some more competition once first cuts are through.  


Special Teams


IN:  Brandon Fields P,  Caleb Sturgis  K

OUT: Everyone else

What to expect:  Brandon Fields is the most consistent player on the entire roster, and statistically the best punter in the NFL over the last 3 years.  End of story.  Caleb Sturgis had his ups and downs last year as a rookie, but I fully expect him to become more consistent with his accuracy in his 2nd year.  If not, maybe south Florida resident David Beckham still has some leg left.  

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