Answers start coming this week. Not definitive answers, mind you. That will take months.
But when the Dolphins’ rookies convene over the next three days for a minicamp that is closed to the public, the coaches and front office will start gleaning insight into which of the healthy rookies will be ready to assume meaningful roles next season, and which of the low-round draft picks and undrafted rookies will prove worthy of a roster spot.
Healthy is the key word, because first-rounder Dion Jordan and third-rounder Dallas Thomas are recovering from shoulder surgery.
A look at how the rookies factor in at key positions:
“What’s there is a lot of competition,” general manager Jeff Ireland said. “You’ve got some real good veterans that have played very good football in their career. Then, you have some young guys we’ve drafted. I feel good about the position. We’ve got a lot of talent over there.”
Speedy seventh-round pick Don Jones, a safety at Arkansas State, also will compete for a roster spot at cornerback.
Ireland is encouraged because Sims dropped his weight from 280 to 260 since his season ended at Michigan State.
Oregon did not use him much as a hand-in-the-ground defensive lineman. It’s possible he could play a hybrid end/outside linebacker role in Miami, but the coaching staff will make that call.
“Could be,” Ireland said when asked if Jordan could end up at linebacker. “That’s what I like about him. He’s very versatile and he played linebacker there and he also rushed the passer.
“[When] we get our hands on him, [we will] see where the best place he’ll fit. We’ve got a great vision for him. Part of that’s going to be rushing the passer but the other part’s up to [coach Joe Philbin].”
Asked about the pace of his recovery from the shoulder surgery, Jordan said: “I’m doing well. Can’t give you a percentage. I’m not a battery. I tried it already, playing football with one arm. It doesn’t work.”
If the Dolphins believe Thomas is better suited to play guard than tackle — as many analysts do — he could compete with starter Richie Incognito. Backing up at both left tackle and left guard seems the most likely course for his rookie season.
“We’ve seen him play both positions,” Philbin said. “He’s got ability at both spots.”
“I really like this kid,” Ireland said. “He’s got a very good skill set. He can pass protect. Kind of paid his dues at Florida. He was a one-year starter. He runs it very well. He’s tough.”
Jenkins is “very quick, very athletic,” Ireland said. “He’s going to be a core special teams player for us.”
“We’re not giving the job away to Caleb or to Dan,” Ireland said. “They’re going to be in pretty good competition in camp.”
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