New head coach Joe Philbin has released his first draft of his 2012 Miami Dolphins depth chart. He was clear that all positions/situations are fluid. This is the first of potentially several different drafts of the depth chart that the ‘Phins will go with when they open the season on September 9 at Houston Texans. Despite the fact that there will be changes, the current depth chart does have its share of surprises.
The most important position in any offense is QB. No surprise here as Philbin lists veteran David Garrard as the main man, followed by last years guy Matt Moore. Rookie Ryan Tannehill is third currently, but has a beat on the #2 spot. Ideal scenario is to be able to ease Tannehill into the NFL scene, but Miami drafted him #8 overall so he will be the starter at some point soon. Right here, right now, the QB is Garrard. This is one spot that could see change as A) Moore is a better in-game QB than practice QB so he may yet be heard from as a legit starting threat B) Tannehill is getting better and better, at an impressive pace.
Currently rookie Lamar Miller is listed as the #4 running back. #1 is a clear choice in Reggie Bush. Daniel Thomas and Steve Slaton enter the preseason as default #2 and #3, but I think Miller could end up surpassing both of them. ‘Phins traded up to draft Thomas in 2011 so I would think he will get a good opportunity to produce. Slaton is in great shape, and is versatile as he can contribute on special teams as well. Still, I think Miller can/will climb the depth chart. He is a legit home run threat with every touch, and is rapidly learning the offense.
Chad Johnson, Legedu Naanee, and Davone Bess are listed as the starting WRs. These are 3 guys who have looked good so far, and could remain on top of the depth chart even when a guy like Brian Hartline returns from injury. Julius Pruitt and Jeff Fuller are listed as top subs. Interesting as these two have as many NFL receptions as you or I have. Pruitt has become a valuable special teams contributor so I think he will get a roster spot, while Fuller is an undrafted rookie with ties to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman (and also Tannehill).
The Dolphins have long needed a play-making safety who can create turnovers. New defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has a reputation of putting his players in positions to create turnovers. This could be a close battle as Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Tyrone Culver, and Jimmy Wilson all have talent. So far Jones and Clemons are the front-runners, but Coyle is just getting started with these guys.
Big names like Ochocinco and Tannehill were added this off-season. A lesser known guy who is making big moves on the depth chart is cornerback Richard Marshall. It was widely thought that the CB duo of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith would enter their 4th season as starters, but Miami signed Marshall and have been pleased with what they have seen. The practice after Marshall was listed as #1 Davis actually got the time with the first unit, while Marshall returned to his usual spot as the nickelback. This may be a wake-up call attempt from Philbin to try and kick-start Davis to his potential, especially when you consider how valuable nickelbacks have become in the passing-era we are currently in. Marshall is an excellent nickelback.
Rookie Jonathan Martin is lead man for the right tackle spot, while fellow rookie Jorvorskie Lane leads the fullback list. Lane was undrafted, and has as zero NFL experience, but he has ties to coach Sherman and this style of offense. Lane was a TD machine at Texas A&M, but was merely decent during his only season under Sherman. A fullback will not be prominent in Miami’s west-coast offense, especially with the versatility of a guy like TE Charles Clay, but Lane has a good shot at contributing to this roster.
Defense has some rookies looking good too. Oliver Vernon is listed as a back-up defensive end, and undrafted rookie Derrick Shelby is on the back-up list right behind starter Jared Odrick.
Again, this is only draft numero uno of the depth chart. Minds/opinions/strategies/injuries etc could change weekly, in some cases daily. I am of the opinion that we can only go on what we have, and so far draft #1 is all we have. More to come…
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