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Friday, August 30, 2013
Predicting the Dolphins' 53-man roster

By James Walker

The five-game preseason for the Miami Dolphins is officially in the books. Final roster cuts will be due for all teams on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Therefore, it’s a good time to provide our final 53-man roster projection heading into the 2013 season.

Here is how I view Miami's 53-man roster shaking out on Saturday:

Quarterbacks (2): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

Analysis: The Dolphins will debate heavily over the next 24 hours whether to keep three quarterbacks. It could go either way, but Pat Devlin is practice-squad eligible and I expect them to take advantage of it. Miami could use the third-quarterback spot to boost depth in other areas of need.

Running backs (3): Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee

Analysis: Three tailbacks are usually the norm for most teams. Jonas Gray was just starting to make a push for Miami to keep four running backs. But his struggles as of late most likely pushes him to the practice squad.

Fullback (1): Evan Rodriguez

Analysis: Rodriguez beat out Jorvorskie Lane this week due to his versatility and athleticism. Lane was released early on Tuesday. Rodriguez is a better receiver out of the backfield and also athletic enough to contribute on special teams.

Receivers (6): Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Marvin McNutt, KR Marcus Thigpen

Analysis: Miami will be fine at receiver if everyone stays healthy. But this group has some question marks behind the starters. Thigpen, a natural running back, gets stashed here due to the lack of depth and Miami’s need for another slot option.

Tight ends (3): Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Michael Egnew

Analysis: Dustin Keller’s season-ending knee injury weakens this group significantly. Miami must hope one of these young tight ends come of age fast. Perhaps Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland scans the waiver wire for additional help at tight end in the coming days.

Offensive line (9): Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Tyson Clabo, Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas, Will Yeatman

Analysis: The Dolphins need more quality depth here. Samuda and Garner both bring value as backups due to their position flexibility.

Defensive line (9): Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, Dion Jordan, Derrick Shelby, Kheeston Randall, Vaughn Martin

Analysis: This is Miami’s deepest area, especially if first-round pick Dion Jordan (shoulder) is ready for Week 1 of the regular season. A.J. Francis nearly gets a spot, but his play has tailed off in the past two weeks. Francis goes to the practice squad.

Linebackers (7): Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins, Austin Spitler, Jonathan Freeny

Analysis: Depth behind the starters is an issue here, as well. Trusnik and Spitler both are contributors on special teams. Jenkins is a rookie draft pick who needs more time to develop.

Defensive backs (10): Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jimmy Wilson, Kelcie McCray, Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, Nolan Carroll, R.J. Stanford

Analysis: Ten defensive backs are a lot. But I think you need six corners considering Will Davis and Jamar Taylor are not 100 percent to start the season. I predict Stanford gets one of the last roster spots until Davis and Taylor are fully recovered.

Specialist (3): Punter Brandon Fields, long snapper John Denney, kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Analysis: This group won’t change. Sturgis has actually kicked better in his first training camp and preseason after the release of veteran kicker Dan Carpenter.

Last five in: Stanford, McCray, Yeatman, Freeny, Spitler

Last five out: Devlin, Francis, WR Brian Tyms, WR Chad Bumphis, RB Jonas Gray

Agree or disagree with this roster projection? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or message me on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.