Quarterbacks: Jay Cutler and Matt Moore
Miami, like last season, has kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. As expected, new Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler will start and will be backed up by Matt Moore. Cutler will play under his former offensive coordinator, Adam Gase. Cutler had his best statistical season under Gase, throwing 21 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. He also had a career high quarterback rating of 92.3. Cutler has been solid since joining Miami and looks to build off a solid preseason to lead the Dolphins back to the playoffs for the second straight season.
Running Backs: Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake, and Senorise Perry
Ajayi looks to build off his breakout season a year ago. Ajayi broke out with 1,272 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns and an average of 4.9 yards per carry, despite getting his first start in week 5. From week 5 on Ajayi was second in rushing to only NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott. Behind Ajayi is Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. Both Williams and Drake are solid options when Ajayi needs a breather.
Both have shown they have big play ability with Williams having 6 total touchdowns last year (3 receiving 3 rushing) and Drake taking a kickoff 96 yards against the Jets to essentially win the game. Look for Miami to lean on their strong rushing attack from last season to help ease the load on Cutler.
Wide Receivers: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant, and Leonte Carroo
Arguably the strongest unit on the team, the receiving corps is filled with talent and is returning all five key contributors from a season ago. The big three of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills will again be the 3 on top the depth chart. Last season Landry led the team in catches with 94, and receiving yards with 1,136. Stills led the team in touchdowns with 9, and all three had more than 700 yards receiving. Parker has been making plays all offseason and during preseason and is expected by many to have a breakout season.
Another receiver that made strides this offseason was Jakeem Grant. The 2nd year man out of Texas Tech had a strong showing in the final two preseason games scoring touchdowns from 69 and 65 along with a pass interference call to get the on the 1 yard line. This unit looks to have another strong showing this season.
Tight Ends: Julius Thomas, Anthony Fasano, and MarQueis Gray
The tight end unit lost 2 starters from last season and replaces them with what they hope to be better options. Gase and Julius Thomas were together in Denver where Thomas put up two straight seasons of 12 touchdown receptions. Behind him is former Dolphin Anthony Fasano.
Fasano was brought back primarily for blocking purposes as he ranked atop the league in terms of blocking as a tight end. Gray has made solid strides this season. The Dolphins can get some solid use out of any their options at tight end.
Offensive Line: Laremy Tunsil, Anthony Steen, Mike Pouncey, Jermon Bushrod, Ja’Wuan James, Sam Young, Jesse Davis Isaac Asiata, Eric Smith, Jake Brendel, and Ted Larsen
The Dolphins will begin the 2017 season with a starting offensive line of Laremy Tunsil(LT), Anthony Steen(LG), Mike Pouncey(C), Jermon Bushrod(RG), and Ja’Wuan James(RT). The offensive line still looks to be a weak part of Miami’s roster, and losing starting left guard Ted Larsen for half the season does not help.
With three rookies making the roster on the offensive line this unit is very young. Dont be suprised to see Miami look to pick up an offensive lineman. Perhaps Alex Boone could be an option going forward.
Defensive Line: Andre Branch, William Hayes, Cam Wake, Charles Harris, Terrence Fede, Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, and Vincent Taylor
The defensive line is the strongest unit on the defense. They will need to have a strong year if the defense wants to perform well. Rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux had a good camp and preseason and is in a tight competition with Jordan Phillips for the starting defensive tackle position opposite Suh.
Rookie defensive end and 1st round pick Charles Harris had a slow start to the preseason, as he is still looking for his first sack. However, he did have some hurries. He has time to develop as he sits behind Cam Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes.
Linebackers: Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Hull, Chase Allen, Rey Maualuga, and Justin March-Lillard
The linebacker unit is still thin, just like last season. A season-ending knee injury to starting middle linebacker and 2nd round pick Raekwon McMillan really hurt the unit in terms of depth and playmaking ability. The Dolphins did bring in veteran Rey Maualuga, but he has yet to see action. However, he is expected to play Week 1 against Tampa Bay.
Although Mike Hull may start in the middle, depth is thin with Chase Allen and newly signed Justin March-Lillard as the reserves. Miami’s big signing to this unit was the addition of former Pittsburgh Steeler, Lawrence Timmons. TImmons has shown he has not lost a step this offseason and Dolphins hope that is the case when the season begins.
Cornerbacks: Xavien Howard, Byron Maxwell, Bobby McCain, Alterraun Verner, Cordrea Tankersley, Torry McTyer, and Walt Aikens
The Cornerback group took a big hit when Tony Lippett was lost for the season with a torn achilles. Miami made a good move by signing Alterraun Verner late in the offseason. Verner came to Miami just hoping to make the team and is now in a battle for the starting boundary spot with Byron Maxwell.
With Bobby McCain again expected to start in the slot, Dolphins hope Xavien Howard turns into the true number one corner many expect him to be. Meanwhile two rookies, 3rd round pick Cordrea Tankersley and undrafted free agent Torry McTyer will continue to develop behind them.
Safeties: Reshad Jones, Nate Allen, Michael Thomas, and Mo Smith
Pro-Bowl safety Reshad Jones returns to the secondary after missing most of the season. Jones brings playmaking and grit to the backend of the defense. He will have to wait to play with fellow safety TJ McDonald as he is suspended for the first 8 games.
Nate Allen looks to step into the starting role and is expected to hold it down until McDonald returns. A big surprise this offseason was the play of undrafted safety out of Georgia, Maurice Smith. Smith has played well since being signed to Miami and looks to learn a thing or two from fellow former Bulldog, Reshad Jones.
Special Teams: Cody Parkey(K), Matthew Haack(P), and John Denney(LS)
While Denney returns for his 13th season as Dolphins long snapper he is joined by a brand new punter and place kicker for the second time in three years. Dolphins surprised many of their fans when they claimed Parkey off waivers and cut Andrew Franks.
While Parkey is the more accurate kicker fans remember him from missing a field goal and losing the game for the Browns against the Dolphins last season. As for punter Matthew Haack he out performed former punter Matt Darr this offseason. Haack is a left footed punter which evidently gave him the edge over Darr in the end.