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Dolphins must get rookie impact in 2014

The Miami Dolphins had a disappointing finish as a .500 team for various reasons last season. The offensive line was awful, the run defense was inconsistent and the coaching staff didn’t get the team to finish strong -- particularly on offense.

An underlying reason the Dolphins failed to get over the hump in 2013 was the ineffectiveness of Miami's rookie class. That must change in 2014 if the Dolphins want to end their five-year playoff drought.

Current Miami rookies such as right tackle Ja'Waun James, receiver Jarvis Landry and guard Billy Turner cannot go the route of last year's rookie class led by defensive end Dion Jordan and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. The Dolphins must get immediate production from their first-year players. James, Miami's first-round pick, is projected to start at right tackle, while second-rounder Landry and third-rounder Turner are competing for significant roles on offense.

Mid- and late-round picks such as cornerback Walt Aikens, tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Jordie Tripp are all looking to add depth and compete to make the 53-man roster this summer. Here is my first projected 53-man roster for the Dolphins if you want to look at how many rookies I believe will make the team.

This is the first draft under new Miami general manager Dennis Hickey. Interestingly, Hickey selected a lot of players from small schools such as Liberty, Montana, Marist and North Dakota State. But those players must aim to immediately find roles this year -- and it starts Friday when the Dolphins take the field for their opening practice of training camp.