Miami Dolphins: 5 Unexpected Players Who Will Be Pivotal to Team’s Success

Miami Dolphins: 5 Unexpected Players Who Will Be Pivotal to Team's Success

lamar
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

The Miami Dolphins will look to clinch their first postseason berth in six years in 2014. In order for the Dolphins to improve upon their 8-8 season and improve upon their sub .500 record from last season, certain veteran players will need to step up their game and make their presences felt as the 2014 season progresses. Here are five under-the-radar players who will be pivotal to the team's success next season.

5. WR Rishard Matthews

Rishard Matthews
Robert Mayer - USA Today Sports

5. WR Rishard Matthews

Rishard Matthews
Robert Mayer - USA Today Sports

Though Brandon Gibson is currently slotted as the Dolphins' slot receiver, Gibson will be recovering from a serious injury. Rishard Matthews took over the slot role after Gibson's season-ending injury, and excelled in the role during the last half of the season. Matthews had 41 receptions for 448 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. If Matthews can emerge as a favorite target of Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins' offense will improve drastically.

4. DT Earl Mitchell

Earl Mitchell
Getty Images

4. DT Earl Mitchell

Earl Mitchell
Getty Images

Earl Mitchell will be filling some very big shoes in South Florida next season. He will be replacing Paul Soliai, who had been with the franchise since 2007. The Dolphins ranked 24th in stopping the run last season, so Mitchell and the returning Randy Starks will be key in making sure the Dolphins can hold steady in defending the run.

3. CB Jamar Taylor

Jamar Taylor
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

3. CB Jamar Taylor

Jamar Taylor
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

Jamar Taylor was a second-round draft pick by the franchise in 2013. He played in just nine games as he struggled in returning from sports hernia surgery. The Dolphins re-signed Brent Grimes, but Nolan Carroll and Dimitri Patterson won't be back with the team in 2014. Though free agent Cortland Finnegan was signed, Taylor will have the opportunity to emerge as a starting corner in the Dolphins' backfield next season.

2. TE Charles Clay

charles-clay
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

2. TE Charles Clay

charles-clay
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

It's hard to say Charles Clay is an under-the-radar player when he caught 69 passes for 759 yards and six touchdowns last season, but oddly enough, Clay is still an under-the-radar player. All eyes will be on Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, Knowshon Moreno and Brian Hartline, but Clay's role as Tannehill's security blanket will go a long way toward dictating Miami's fate in 2014.

1. RB Lamar Miller

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Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

1. RB Lamar Miller

lamar
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

Knowshon Moreno was signed to be the Dolphins' starting running back next season, but that doesn't mean Lamar Miller doesn't remain a part of Miami's future plans. Miller will still receive his share of carries in the backfield provided he beats out Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee during training camp for the backup RB job. Expect Miller to serve a complementary role to Moreno in 2014.


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  • Cody J. Strahm

    Really confused by this list. Hard to justify Charles Clay or Lamar Miller being under-the-radar. Not household names on a national stage, but anyone who has watched the Dolphins play over the past year knows how vital each will be the team’s success in 2014.