Barry Jackson

A position by position look at how Dolphins offense stacks up and looming battles

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a November 2016 game against San Francisco. He has had two major knee injuries since, and he's at the center of everything the Dolphins offense is planning for the 2018 season.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a November 2016 game against San Francisco. He has had two major knee injuries since, and he's at the center of everything the Dolphins offense is planning for the 2018 season. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Where the Dolphins’ offense stands after the draft:

QUARTERBACK

▪ Lock: Ryan Tannehill.

▪ Likely: Nobody

▪ Competing for a job: Brock Osweiler, David Fales, Bryce Petty.

▪ Comment: Though Osweiler has far more guaranteed money in his deal than Fales ($720,000 to none), don’t rule out the possibility of Fales beating out Osweiler if Osweiler is really bad in preseason. Osweiler is the clear favorite, based on experience and pedigree, but he won’t be here in mid-September if he’s awful in August. Unless Adam Gase can transform Osweiler into the 2015 version, then the Dolphins failed in an effort to upgrade over Matt Moore. If passer rating is used as a gauge, then Miami actually downgraded.... Petty had the league's worst passer rating last season.

RUNNING BACKS

▪ Locks: Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore.

▪ Likely: Kelan Bellage (would be shocking if he doesn’t make the team).

▪ Competing for a job: FAU undrafted rookie Gregory Howell, Senorise Perry, Brandon Radcliffe.

▪ Comment: Bellage should play a lot on special teams, but whether he gets snaps will depend in part on whether Drake and the durable Gore stay healthy and in part on whether he does enough in preseason to warrant some work…. If he gets offensive snaps as a third back, his best chance to make his mark might be as a pass receiver out of the backfield; he’s among the best in this NFL draft class in that area...

Don’t discount Howell, who ran for 2419 yards and averaged 5.2 per carry in four years at FAU…Perry had 8 carries for 30 yards in limited work for the Dolphins last season – his first game action since 2014 with the Bears…Radcliffe, undrafted last year out of Louisville, joined Miami’s practice squad last November after stints with the Colts and Titans. He averaged 6.5 per carry as a senior at LouisvilIe.



TIGHT ENDS



▪ Locks: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe.

▪ Likely: Nobody.

▪ Competing for jobs: A.J. Derby, Gavin Escobar, MarQueis Gray, Thomas Duarte.

▪ Comment: The Dolphins figure to keep four, with Derby and Escobar slight favorites if they play well in training camp and preseason. Miami believes Derby can be an asset in the passing game…. The Dolphins love Smythe’s blocking and believe he’s a better receiver than he’s given credit for and want to utilize him in that way, too… Gesicki could be Miami’s best pass-catching weapon at that position in many years…

Who starts could depend on whether Gesicki becomes a competent blocker in the next few months. If his blocking is a liability, Smythe or Derby could emerge as a starter initially... Gray wasn’t happy about his playing time last season but it’s difficult to see that changing unless the rookies and Derby disappoint in camp… Duarte, a skilled pass catcher, has worked to improve his blocking.



WIDE RECEIVERS

▪ Locks: DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson.

▪ Likely: Jakeem Grant.

▪ Competing for jobs: Leonte Carroo, Isaiah Ford, Malcolm Lewis, Drew Morgan, Francis Owusu, Rashawn Scott.

▪ Comment: Grant will be on the team barring something catastrophically bad in preseason, but the question is whether Miami can create the offensive snaps he warrants after signing two receivers to replace Landry… Carroo must hope the Dolphins keep six receivers and that he shows far more than he has in his first two seasons…

The Dolphins want a long look at Ford, the 2017 seventh-round pick whose rookie season was wiped out by a knee injury…

The plan is to more evenly distribute targets among the top four receivers than Miami did with Landry on the roster….

The battle to start in three-receiver sets should be interesting; Amendola started eight times in his 15 games for the Patriots last season and Wilson started seven of 13. Both have extensive experience playing the slot. Stills was also very good when he received occasional work in the slot.



OFFENSIVE LINE

▪ Locks: Laremy Tunsil, Ja’Wuan James, Daniel Kilgore, Josh Sitton, Jesse Davis.

▪ Likely: Sam Young, Ted Larsen.

▪ Competing for jobs: Jake Brendel, Isaac Asiata, Sean Hickey, Zach Sterup, Eric Smith, Roebbens Joseph, undrafted rookie Purdue guard

David Steinmetz, undrafted rookie William & Mary guard Connor Hilland.

▪ Comment: Davis is the clear front-runner for the one open spot on the offensive line (right guard)… Young almost assuredly will be the third tackle and Larsen has the inside track to be the top interior backup...

Brendel has a good chance to stick at backup center with the flexibility to play guard; he played very well filling in for Mike Pouncey in the second half of last October’s win at Atlanta….

So that would be eight linemen with Young, Larsen and Brendel as the top backups in this projection. The ninth and 10th jobs are tossups….

Asiata will need to battle to make the team; The Dolphins told him after the season that he needs to get stronger and his feet need to get quicker. He’s not being counted on for a significant role…

Joseph, the one new non-rookie addition in the “battling for jobs”category, spent last season on the Ravens’ practice squad… One of the missions this summer – though a not particularly exciting one – is determining which of the three young developmental tackles (Smith, Hickey, Sterup) has the best chance of evolving into a capable backup.

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