NFL Miami Dolphins

Predicting the Miami Dolphins’ Starters of 2014

Predicting Who Will Start For The Miami Dolphins In 2014

Ryan Tannehill Jets
Getty Images

Free agency and the draft have come and gone, and now the Miami Dolphins are another step closer to the start of the 2014 NFL season.

The next major step is training camp, where the veterans, rookies and fringe players will battle it out to earn not just a spot not just on the roster, but a place in the starting lineup.

Here is my early projection for who will be the week 1 starters for the Miami Dolphins in the 2014 regular season.

QB: Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill Dolphins
Getty Images

QB: Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill Dolphins
Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill is firmly entrenched as the Dolphins' starting quarterback and will ultimately be the key for the Dolphins this year. Tannehill has not had much protection in his first two seasons, but his poor play down the stretch last year will be a cause for concern. Veteran Matt Moore will once again be Tannehill's backup with third-stringer Pat Devlin on the outside looking in.

RB: Knowshon Moreno

Knowshon Moreno Broncos
Getty Images

RB: Knowshon Moreno

Knowshon Moreno Broncos
Getty Images

Last year, the Dolphins' running game was atrocious at best, but the Dolphins will be better this season now that former Denver Bronco Knowshon Moreno is on board. Moreno will be the unquestioned starter in Week 1 with Lamar Miller as the backup. Players like Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gillislee will compete to be the No. 3 back. Lining up at fullback will be tight end Charles Clay when the Dolphins use a fullback.

WR: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry

Mike Wallace Dolphins
Getty Images

WR: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry

Mike Wallace Dolphins
Getty Images

Mike Wallace will return as the team's top weapon, looking to improve on his somewhat disappointing season last year. Brian Hartline will once again be a steady and reliable weapon for Tannehill on the outside as the No. 2 receiver. At No. 3, rookie Jarvis Landry will win the job with Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie Matt Hazel all competing to be the No. 4 and No. 5 receivers.

TE: Charles Clay

Charles Clay Dolphins
Getty Images

TE: Charles Clay

Charles Clay Dolphins
Getty Images

After last year's strong performance, Clay will go down as the top tight end on the depth chart. Clay will also be featured at fullback and has the ability to line up wide, making him Miami's most versatile offensive player. Rookie fifth-round pick Arthur Lynch will win the job as the No. 2 tight end with Dion Sims and Michael Egnew fighting for the No. 3 job.

OT: Branden Albert (LT) and Ja'Wuan James (RT)

Branden Albert Chiefs
Getty Images

OT: Branden Albert (LT) and Ja'Wuan James (RT)

Branden Albert Chiefs
Getty Images

The Dolphins will feature two new offensive tackles this season as free agent Branden Albert will start on the left side with rookie first-round pick Ja'Wuan James starting on the right side. Albert comes to the Dolphins after being rumored to be traded to the team before the 2013 NFL Draft. James replaces Jonathan Martin, who was the victim of last year's bullying scandal. Veterans Jason Fox and Will Yeatman will provide good depth.

G: Billy Turner (LG) and Dallas Thomas (RG)

Dallas Thomas Dolphins
Getty Images

G: Billy Turner (LG) and Dallas Thomas (RG)

Dallas Thomas Dolphins
Getty Images

The guard position for the Dolphins will also feature two new starters as rookie third-round pick Billy Turner will start on the left side with second-year player Dallas Thomas starting on the right side. Both players are upgrades over Richie Incognito and John Jerry, who were the main instigators of the bullying scandal last year. Backing up Thomas and Turner will be veterans Shelley Smith and Nate Garner.

C: Mike Pouncey

Mike Pouncey Dolphins
Getty Images

C: Mike Pouncey

Mike Pouncey Dolphins
Getty Images

Mike Pouncey may have been a Pro Bowl player last year, but this year, the former Florida Gator has not acted like one lately. From his involvement in the bullying scandal last season to controversial tweets about James, the Dolphins center's leash will be shorter than usual. He will still start because he is a talented player, but watch out for undrafted free agent Tyler Larsen at center if Pouncey continues to self-destruct.

DE: Cameron Wake (LDE) and Olivier Vernon (RDE)

Cameron Wake Dolphins
Getty Images

DE: Cameron Wake (LDE) and Olivier Vernon (RDE)

Cameron Wake Dolphins
Getty Images

Defensive end won't have many questions this season as both Cameron Wake and Oliver Vernon will return as starters. Wake made the Pro Bowl once again in 2013, and Vernon had a breakout season last year. Backing them up will be 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan, who will split time between linebacker and defensive end, and Derrick Shelby. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick will also split time between defensive end and defensive tackle.

DT: Randy Starks (LDT) and Earl Mitchell (RDT)

Randy Starks Dolphins
Getty Images

DT: Randy Starks (LDT) and Earl Mitchell (RDT)

Randy Starks Dolphins
Getty Images

Defensive tackle will be an intriguing position for the Dolphins this season, especially with former Houston Texan Earl Mitchell joining the fray. Mitchell will start this season alongside veteran Randy Starks to give the Dolphins two good run-stuffers up the middle. Backing them up will be Odrick, the best pass-rushing tackle on the team, and Anthony Johnson, an undrafted rookie free agent.

OLB: Koa Misi (SLB) and Dion Jordan (WLB)

Koa Misi Dolphins
Getty Images

OLB: Koa Misi (SLB) and Dion Jordan (WLB)

Koa Misi Dolphins
Getty Images

Miami's linebacking corps was not one of their strongest units last season, and nothing much has changed this season. Veteran Koa Misi will start once again on the strong side with Jordan now starting on the weak side. Jordan, however, will line up all over the field, causing matchup problems as a pass rusher. Backing them up will be veteran Philip Wheeler, who struggled last year, and second-year player Jelani Jenkins.

MLB: Dannell Ellerbe

Dannell Ellerbe Dolphins
Getty Images

MLB: Dannell Ellerbe

Dannell Ellerbe Dolphins
Getty Images

As one of Miami's biggest free agent signings last season, middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe didn't have as good of a season as he did with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, but he will once again be the starter. However, don't be surprised at all if rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Jordan Tripp gives Ellerbe a good push at middle linebacker in training camp. Jason Trusnik will be the No. 3 MLB and a key special teams player.

CB: Brent Grimes (LCB) and Jamar Taylor (RCB)

Brent Grimes Dolphins
Getty Images

CB: Brent Grimes (LCB) and Jamar Taylor (RCB)

Brent Grimes Dolphins
Getty Images

Despite being one of the strongest units on last year's defense, the cornerbacks have a chance to get even better with two solid veterans and two key young players now healthy. Brent Grimes, a Pro Bowler last season, will start on the left side with second-year player Jamar Taylor getting the first opportunity to start on the right side. Veteran Cortland Finnegan and young players Will Davis and Walt Aikens will round out the rotation.

FS: Jimmy Wilson

Jimmy Wilson Dolphins
Getty Images

FS: Jimmy Wilson

Jimmy Wilson Dolphins
Getty Images

With former FS Chris Clemons now with the Houston Texans, the Dolphins will give the starting job to Jimmy Wilson at first. If Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, starts to struggle, then the Dolphins have an excellent backup option in former Detroit Lion Louis Delmas. Delmas could also see some time at strong safety, and current strong safety Reshad Jones could also spend some time at free safety.

SS: Reshad Jones

Reshad Jones Dolphins
Getty Images

SS: Reshad Jones

Reshad Jones Dolphins
Getty Images

After being a Pro Bowl player in 2012, Jones took a step back in 2013 and is one of the few remaining players back from last year's team. More pressure will be on Jones this year, especially without Clemons, but Jones could also see a change of position this year too. Delmas could see some time at strong safety, but Jones' primary backup will be special teams player Jordan Kovacs.

Special Teams

Brandon Fields Dolphins
Getty Images

Special Teams

Brandon Fields Dolphins
Getty Images

The Dolphins will return a majority of their special teams players from a year ago, but their key players from 2013 will be starters again in 2014. Kicker Caleb Sturgis struggled late in the season, but he showed some early promise by making his first 10 field goals of the season. Punter Brandon Fields and long snapper John Denney are among the best in the business and will start again. Return duties will be held by Marcus Thigpen.